Author Topic: "Trigger" words  (Read 15880 times)

Wolfpack Mustachian

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #350 on: June 21, 2019, 01:18:21 PM »

I don't think the demand is "because of the color of the skin you were born with". I think it's because you've chosen to accept, to some degree, a society which benefits you are the cost of others.


This is an interesting part of the argument. How would one possibly choose to not accept the society or societal benefits? It would seem to leave only literally extricating yourself from the society. Would being an expat in a far flung corner of the world without any history of unfair advantages given to white people really be the only solution to fully eliminate culpability? Otherwise, from what I can see, there are no other ways to fully not accept the benefits and therefore have culpability, and if that's the case, then that's an unreasonable expectation. I'm not saying that you're saying any of this, just that it seems that you've set up an ethical framework that seems to intrinsically generate a catch-22 situation.

I agree: it's very difficult to reject society's benefits. There's the option you suggest, and at least one more I can think of. By why does that have to be a catch, rather than just a fact?

Just because the alternative is hard doesn't make a choice right.

Now, I'm not saying we should all reject society and move to some far flung corner (how many far flung corners are there?). I'm saying we should accept that we are responsible, to some degree, for the ills of our society, and work to correct them the best we are able.

Here's the issue with this line of thought. You didn't mention your other option, so I can’t speak to that, but for my option, as you mentioned how many far flung corners are there, and even beyond that, I can knock my own argument out of contention, because it could very easily be said that even the ability to move to that far flung corner is a result of monetary privilege, amongst others, so even that is fraught from an ethical standpoint.

The problem is this. You’re talking in terms of ethical culpability. I have very little to no experience in a lot of issues discussed on here, but we’ve arrived at one I have tremendous experience with :). My experience is from a religious background with different topics and situations, but the same impossible bar. Because that’s what we’re talking about here from a realistic standpoint. We’re not talking hard. We’re talking impossible. Hard is, for example, having a conversation with a close friend to correct them if they need correcting on one of these issues. Hard would be being willing to sacrifice your standing or even means of making an income because you took a stance on something where you could lose your job. You’re not talking about hard. You’re talking about impossible. Because they only way to avoid ethical culpability in your situation is to not exist. There is no, not being culpable in your situation with the exception of not existing altogether.

Again, I have intimate experience with this line of thought. It sucks. On top of that, it’s futile and ultimately harmful to the psyche. Guilt itself is of dubious benefit even when you are directly the one who did something that was wrong. What we’re talking about here is continual culpability about something you could be even be very actively fighting against because of a situation you have no means to control. It’s futile and actually detrimental overall. My life improved immensely when I stopped looking at things with what I need to feel bad for or apologize for and instead redefined everyone else, working to avoid anyone being “other” and viewing them as intrinsically worthy of love and compassion. My well being improved, and I improved in my interactions with them. I felt immense culpability for everything I did and yet was paralyzed and actually failed to do what I could to improve even mistakes I had made because the focus was on my culpability. My point is, if taken seriously, in my experience, the mindset you describe is intrinsically toxic. Encourage people to acknowledge the benefits they had from birth, sure. Decry the biases present in society, no problem. Work from a personal or in whatever sphere of influence you have to fight against these issues, we’re on the same page. As for maintaining a mental headspace of innate blame and a state of continual need to apologize for actions that I have not taken part in, no. I will actively fight against that when that perspective comes in my head, and I will encourage anyone willing to talk to me about it to avoid it as well. It is toxic.

Watchmaker

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #351 on: June 21, 2019, 02:06:40 PM »
Here's the issue with this line of thought. You didn't mention your other option
And I'm not going to. Going that direction will, I think, derail this interesting discussion.

Because they only way to avoid ethical culpability in your situation is to not exist. There is no, not being culpable in your situation with the exception of not existing altogether.
Yep.

Again, I have intimate experience with this line of thought. It sucks. On top of that, it’s futile and ultimately harmful to the psyche. Guilt itself is of dubious benefit even when you are directly the one who did something that was wrong. What we’re talking about here is continual culpability about something you could be even be very actively fighting against because of a situation you have no means to control. It’s futile and actually detrimental overall. My life improved immensely when I stopped looking at things with what I need to feel bad for or apologize for and instead redefined everyone else, working to avoid anyone being “other” and viewing them as intrinsically worthy of love and compassion. My well being improved, and I improved in my interactions with them. I felt immense culpability for everything I did and yet was paralyzed and actually failed to do what I could to improve even mistakes I had made because the focus was on my culpability. My point is, if taken seriously, in my experience, the mindset you describe is intrinsically toxic. Encourage people to acknowledge the benefits they had from birth, sure. Decry the biases present in society, no problem. Work from a personal or in whatever sphere of influence you have to fight against these issues, we’re on the same page. As for maintaining a mental headspace of innate blame and a state of continual need to apologize for actions that I have not taken part in, no. I will actively fight against that when that perspective comes in my head, and I will encourage anyone willing to talk to me about it to avoid it as well. It is toxic.

I respect your personal experience, but most of what you say isn't true for me (I've bolded the one line above I wholehearted agree with).

There are a lot of things that could be contributing to our different positions--you mention a religious background; my background is completely areligious so I don't carry any of the christian baggage associated with guilt. I also suspect we're not talking about the exact same thing when we use words like guilt and culpability; words are relative after all.

Part of my position is that you have "taken part", but that aside, I don't feel a "continual need to apologize", just an acceptance that I am not some righteous exception to the species. And I find that idea bracing and clarifying.

SpeedReader

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #352 on: June 21, 2019, 10:20:24 PM »
Returning to the OP's sentiments, here are my two cents:

If I never hear the word "micro-aggression" again it will be too soon.  It appears to mean an occasion where someone chooses to be offended by a word/action that clearly wasn't meant to be rude or offensive -- so trivial as to be called "micro" by the offended themselves.  The world does not need this.

I am completely disdainful of the concept of "safe spaces" and "trigger words" in a college environment.  Students should be attending college to learn; to stretch their minds and become acquainted with people, experiences, and philosophies they may not have encountered before.  If you want to remain in your "safe space" bubble, stay the hell home.  Yes, this also applies to students making colleges ban speakers they don't agree with.  (Here's an idea:  just don't attend the speech if you don't want to hear it.  Or attend, hear them out, then respectfully challenge the speaker's views.)

My first exposure to the idea of "trigger words" was also from the college environment.  The idea was that students needed to be warned about "triggering" materials that might occur as part of the course work.  This strikes me as both ridiculous and impractical.  College students are (mostly) legal adults and on the verge of being expected to function as adults in broader society.  Expecting all others to anticipate what might upset you and to make your way smooth is going to lead to some serious disappointment in post-graduate life.

Note that I am not making a comment here against treating people equally, being civil and polite, or having the simple tact not to express obviously offensive language.  I am simply expressing my own opinion that "micro-aggressions", "safe spaces" and "trigger words" in their original incarnations annoy me intensely.

I understand that the usage of these terms can be frustrating, and I've certainly seen them misused. But let me push back against the idea that these terms have no value in their modern sense.

Micro-aggression - I think the key takeaway here is meant to be behaviors of yours that seem inconsequential to you (and might actually be pretty inconsequential in isolation) can have a cumulative affect on someone. If one white person watches you extra carefully in a store, you brush it off. If every time you go to the store it happens, it has an effect on you. The hope is that by discussing it, we'll better realize better how small behaviors multiply across time and society to have big effects.

Safe-space - I don't believe the idea is that your entire life should be a safe-space, just that everyone (students on campus, for example) should all have someplace they can go to get away from whatever threats or stress they experience in the world. That doesn't really sound unreasonable, does it? 

Trigger warnings - As you said, the idea of a trigger warning isn't that topics aren't discussed, just that (for example) sexual abuse survivors aren't blindsided by a discussion of rape. This to me feels like a good impulse. Like we as a society are better understanding and respecting mental health and the effects of traumatic stress. Sure, I don't feel like I need trigger warnings for anything, but my experience is not someone else's. If I had been raped, or was a soldier in a war, or whatever, I think I'd appreciate the heads up.

So none of those things bother me, apart from when they are grossly misused. I'm somewhat more worried by de-platforming, but I also think that been overblown to some degree. I'd love to hear your further thoughts, SpeedReader.
[/quote]

Your explanations make sense to me, Watchmaker.  But I find that I just don't like the word "micro-aggression".  I think it's because to my mind, aggression involves violence or threat.  Micro actions by definition don't rise to that level, so labeling them aggressions feels like an overstatement.  As a scholarly term of art to categorize "deplorable behaviors on an atmospherically oppressive but not overtly threatening level", I guess it's as good a word as any.  But when used to talk about an individual's behavior, it strikes my ear oddly.  Seems it would be clearer to describe the person's behavior as rude/racist/sexist/annoying/etc.

College students have a safe space to get away from stress; it's called their dorm room.  Or a friend's dorm room.  Or a counselor's office, library, church, pub, etc.  I respectfully submit that is not the meaning assigned. I stand by my previous example where students clamor for administrations to revoke speaker invitations.  They are demanding to be protected from ideas they disagree with, at an event they're not even required to attend.  So no, it is not reasonable.  It's in direct contravention to the principle of free speech. 

Re trigger warnings:  If you're going to be presenting material that's widely considered to be graphic or disturbing, yes, you should give people notice.  For example, I attended a healthcare equipment sales meeting where a doctor's presentation included slides of battlefield injuries.  Some people got out of that room in a hurry!  Another example:  in community theater we give notice to patrons when a show includes significant adult language/content. 

I don't think it's as clear-cut in reference to academic materials.  I've quoted a Psychology Today article that puts it better than I can:

"In the fall of 2015, Greg Lukianoff, First Amendment Lawyer and president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at NYU’s Stern School of Business, published an article in The Atlantic.2  In it, they detailed how college campuses may inadvertently promote mental habits identical to the “cognitive distortions” that cognitive behavioral therapists teach their clients to recognize and overcome. The pair argued that some campus practices—presumably intended to protect students from being harmed by words and ideas deemed offensive or distressing—seemed to be interfering with students' ability to get along with each other, and could even be having a deleterious effect on their mental health. Among those practices: training students to identify microaggressions (things people say or do, often unintentionally, that are interpreted as expressions of bigotry), turning classrooms and lecture halls into intellectual safe spaces (where students are protected from words and ideas they might find upsetting), and the issuing of trigger warnings: alerts about the potentially “triggering” content of written work, films, lectures, and other presentations.  A 2018 study out of Harvard—the first randomized controlled experiment designed to examine the effects of trigger warnings on individual resilience—may indicate that Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt were right about trigger warnings." 

"In 2014, Harvard Law professor Jeannie Suk Gersen published an essay in The New Yorker outlining the effects of trigger warnings on pedagogy, and how the concept of "triggers" had come to mean content that was generally upsetting, not just material that could trigger an emotional reaction from those with PTSD.  In their 2015 article, Lukianoff and Haidt used examples of requests for trigger warnings for things like misogyny, classism, and even privilege, and argued that “rather than trying to protect students from words and ideas that they will inevitably encounter, colleges should do all they can to equip students to thrive in a world full of words and ideas that they cannot control.”




Wolfpack Mustachian

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #353 on: June 22, 2019, 01:46:15 PM »
Here's the issue with this line of thought. You didn't mention your other option
And I'm not going to. Going that direction will, I think, derail this interesting discussion.

Because they only way to avoid ethical culpability in your situation is to not exist. There is no, not being culpable in your situation with the exception of not existing altogether.
Yep.

Again, I have intimate experience with this line of thought. It sucks. On top of that, it’s futile and ultimately harmful to the psyche. Guilt itself is of dubious benefit even when you are directly the one who did something that was wrong. What we’re talking about here is continual culpability about something you could be even be very actively fighting against because of a situation you have no means to control. It’s futile and actually detrimental overall. My life improved immensely when I stopped looking at things with what I need to feel bad for or apologize for and instead redefined everyone else, working to avoid anyone being “other” and viewing them as intrinsically worthy of love and compassion. My well being improved, and I improved in my interactions with them. I felt immense culpability for everything I did and yet was paralyzed and actually failed to do what I could to improve even mistakes I had made because the focus was on my culpability. My point is, if taken seriously, in my experience, the mindset you describe is intrinsically toxic. Encourage people to acknowledge the benefits they had from birth, sure. Decry the biases present in society, no problem. Work from a personal or in whatever sphere of influence you have to fight against these issues, we’re on the same page. As for maintaining a mental headspace of innate blame and a state of continual need to apologize for actions that I have not taken part in, no. I will actively fight against that when that perspective comes in my head, and I will encourage anyone willing to talk to me about it to avoid it as well. It is toxic.

I respect your personal experience, but most of what you say isn't true for me (I've bolded the one line above I wholehearted agree with).

There are a lot of things that could be contributing to our different positions--you mention a religious background; my background is completely areligious so I don't carry any of the christian baggage associated with guilt. I also suspect we're not talking about the exact same thing when we use words like guilt and culpability; words are relative after all.

Part of my position is that you have "taken part", but that aside, I don't feel a "continual need to apologize", just an acceptance that I am not some righteous exception to the species. And I find that idea bracing and clarifying.

Our differing backgrounds and may be causing some terminology issues. However, from a logical standpoint, it's pretty clear cut. I can acknowledge that I have benefited from something without having culpability from it. I can even work to mitigate it for others who didn't benefit from it. I was born in a stable family who supported my education, encouraged me, etc. I have tremendous benefits from that. I admit it. I am not culpable for anything because of it. It would be a good idea for me to work to help others who weren't less fortunate, but I have nothing to apologize for.

Sol (if I may be so bold to speak for him) appears to fully admit that he has had benefits. I do as well. However, you were very clear above in your belief that there is no way, period, for me to not be ethically culpable. Culpability, guilt, apologies, they're all linked together. If my very existence is culpability, then your statement about not feeling a continual need to apologize doesn't make sense. You should be apologizing all the time. You are culpable all the time. There is no end until you die. I am totally down with apologies. People literally make fun of me for apologizing too much. However, when I know I have done something wrong, I apologize for the thing I have done wrong, because I have done something wrong. That's why you say you're sorry. The other reason to say you're sorry is empathy, which I have no problem with saying to people who have been discriminated against. I'm sorry you have been discriminated against. I'm not accepting culpability for it unless I have done the discriminating. Similar to I'm sorry that you're grandmother died. I didn't kill her, but I empathize with you and am sorry it happened. Again, I don't think anyone in this discussion would have a problem with that. We're talking about culpability though, which is beyond that.

My perspective on guilt is pretty all encompassing. It resonates with me ethically, philosophically, practically in my life and in the lives of others I have seen, even religiously despite my initial challenges (it has been a newfound understanding of Christianity as I grew and learned that helped me to realize the part you mentioned above about not seeing anyone else as other but that all are included in God's love, although I do a poor job at many times of displaying this). I said guilt is of dubious value, and I firmly believe it. It can help to guide us to apologies and attempts at recompense when we have done something wrong in the short term. Past the very short term, it tends to have very negative consequences. Guilt in my life and in the lives of so many others is extremely negative. I was a whole heck of a lot more guilt ridden when I was 10, but it comes from a negative, inward focused space. That's kind of in the definition.  You're focused on what you did or do. Instead, once I focused on others and their worth, I was in a positive space. What can I do to help people? Guilt didn't get me there. If I'm culpable for existing at all times, there's no getting beyond that. It's on you, and it's on you all the time. We aren't wired well for guilt long term. The guilt that has some benefit to slap us upside the head and say you are a jerk when you're actually ethically culpable for a wrong doing, when it lingers is just bad news. Let's keep the acknowledgements of advantages and recognition that others aren't in our situations without throwing on this negative, unnecessary, and damaging culpability, when the person hasn't actually done anything to be culpable. It's much better all around.

Watchmaker

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #354 on: June 22, 2019, 04:49:50 PM »
Your explanations make sense to me, Watchmaker.  But I find that I just don't like the word "micro-aggression".  I think it's because to my mind, aggression involves violence or threat.  Micro actions by definition don't rise to that level, so labeling them aggressions feels like an overstatement.  As a scholarly term of art to categorize "deplorable behaviors on an atmospherically oppressive but not overtly threatening level", I guess it's as good a word as any.  But when used to talk about an individual's behavior, it strikes my ear oddly.  Seems it would be clearer to describe the person's behavior as rude/racist/sexist/annoying/etc.

I think part of the value of the term was so that you could talk about how people's behavior might be harmful, without labeling the behavior as racist/sexist/etc, since people tend to shut down when that happens. But it sounds like you understand how the term could be useful, and I'd suggest whether you or I personally like the term wasn't part of the considerations when whoever coined it did so.

College students have a safe space to get away from stress; it's called their dorm room.  Or a friend's dorm room.  Or a counselor's office, library, church, pub, etc.
Sometimes students don't have those places, or those places aren't safe for them. College students often have poor support networks. If like-minded students and staff want to make sure students know there is a place and a community they can go for support, that sounds commendable, doesn't it? That's what I would mean when I talk about a safe-space.

I more understand the criticism when people try to impose a "safe" (i.e. criticism free) space unilaterally on others, like declaring the offices of a school newspaper to be a safe space. I can clearly see the dangers in that and I oppose such actions. But I've seen very few actual occurrences of things like that. How many can you name (remembering there are something like 20 million college students at any given time)?

The other real danger is when a safe space becomes the only space you occupy. I think it's critically important that college students (well I think it's important for everyone) spend time in the wider world with those they disagree with as well. But that's not an argument against safe spaces.

I respectfully submit that is not the meaning assigned. I stand by my previous example where students clamor for administrations to revoke speaker invitations.  They are demanding to be protected from ideas they disagree with, at an event they're not even required to attend.  So no, it is not reasonable.  It's in direct contravention to the principle of free speech. 

I'd classify what you're talking about here as de-platforming. I don't see how it's anything remotely like a contravention of the principle of free speech. Free speech doesn't guarantee you a platform, it doesn't guarantee you an audience, and it doesn't protect you from the freely exercised rights of others. That said, I think it's a bad thing anyway. Bad for two reasons: primarily because we should not be afraid to hear a position we disagree with, and secondarily because as a strategy it often backfires and results in more publicity for the speaker.

Like the imposed safe space issue above, I'm not convinced it's an important problem in terms of numbers of occurrences. But it's obviously culturally important, and I'm against it.

Re trigger warnings:  If you're going to be presenting material that's widely considered to be graphic or disturbing, yes, you should give people notice.  For example, I attended a healthcare equipment sales meeting where a doctor's presentation included slides of battlefield injuries.  Some people got out of that room in a hurry!  Another example:  in community theater we give notice to patrons when a show includes significant adult language/content. 

I don't think it's as clear-cut in reference to academic materials.  I've quoted a Psychology Today article that puts it better than I can:

My previous comments on this part should have been fleshed out more. I fully concede it's possible that trigger warnings do no good, or even that it's possible they cause harm. The research I've seen is mixed, and unconvincing either way so far. What I think is good is that we are considering mental health more and trying to offer better solutions (better than the old way of not discussing it at all). If trigger warnings aren't helpful, I'm confident the research will show that in time and we'll move on to a hopefully more efficacious system.

So after that, maybe we're not as far apart on these issues as it first looked? I share some of your concerns, but I think the intentions behind these things are mostly good and I think when applied moderately, these ideas are useful.

Part of my position comes from my own experience. I'm 36, but I happen to know a lot of very liberal twenty somethings, and despite all the jokes and complaints about their generation, I find them to be an incredibly caring, rational, and altruistic generation.

Watchmaker

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #355 on: June 22, 2019, 05:09:27 PM »
Our differing backgrounds and may be causing some terminology issues. However, from a logical standpoint, it's pretty clear cut. I can acknowledge that I have benefited from something without having culpability from it. I can even work to mitigate it for others who didn't benefit from it. I was born in a stable family who supported my education, encouraged me, etc. I have tremendous benefits from that. I admit it. I am not culpable for anything because of it. It would be a good idea for me to work to help others who weren't less fortunate, but I have nothing to apologize for.

Obviously, I disagree with you, but as I'll get to in a bit, we need to resolve the difference in our language to understand how much we disagree.

However, you were very clear above in your belief that there is no way, period, for me to not be ethically culpable.

That is incorrect. I do not believe that there is "no way, period", just that it is incredibly difficult.

My perspective on guilt is pretty all encompassing. It resonates with me ethically, philosophically, practically in my life and in the lives of others I have seen, even religiously despite my initial challenges (it has been a newfound understanding of Christianity as I grew and learned that helped me to realize the part you mentioned above about not seeing anyone else as other but that all are included in God's love, although I do a poor job at many times of displaying this). I said guilt is of dubious value, and I firmly believe it. It can help to guide us to apologies and attempts at recompense when we have done something wrong in the short term. Past the very short term, it tends to have very negative consequences. Guilt in my life and in the lives of so many others is extremely negative. I was a whole heck of a lot more guilt ridden when I was 10, but it comes from a negative, inward focused space.

It's sounds like your talking about the physical+emotional state of "feeling guilty". That's not what I mean at all. I don't feel that, and I agree that it's largely negative. I mean guilt in a factual sense. The understanding that I am responsible for my choice to accept the benefits of an unfair system that is biased towards me and against others. There's value for me (and , I believe, for others) in owning that choice.

SpeedReader

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #356 on: June 22, 2019, 09:37:20 PM »
So after that, maybe we're not as far apart on these issues as it first looked? I share some of your concerns, but I think the intentions behind these things are mostly good and I think when applied moderately, these ideas are useful.
[/quote]

I agree that we appear very close in our underlying opinions for the most part.  I agree with safe spaces for people under genuine threat -- shelters for domestic-abuse victims come to mind.  But demanding a space where one can be "safe" from ideas is dangerous nonsense. 

The college culture that popularized the meanings of these expressions has probably gotten a disproportionate amount of attention relative to the number of practitioners.  But undeniably, when a Harvard study is done to measure the impact, someone serious is paying attention to it.  I say "someone serious" to differentiate from conservative media outlets who pretend to their consumers that all liberals support the college extremists on this. I am tired of having that discussion with my relatives!  :-)

I see what you mean by de-platforming, and mostly agree with you.  I still believe that there's a freedom of speech concern in the sense that these students believe they are entitled to exist in a bubble free of speech/thoughts/ideas they don't like.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2019, 09:55:06 PM by SpeedReader »

sol

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #357 on: June 22, 2019, 10:36:28 PM »
I see what you mean by de-platforming, and mostly agree with you.  I still believe that there's a freedom of speech concern in the sense that these students believe they are entitled to exist in a bubble free of speech/thoughts/ideas they don't like.

De-platforming is a contentious issue, but compared to trigger warnings and safe spaces it's the one I find least prone to abuse.  Nobody is "entitled" to an invitation to speak at a university.  If the college circuit wants to stop inviting racist shitheads to campus so they can shout about how Obama is a Muslim (yes, that actually happened) then I'm kind of okay with it. 

Of course, the racists are really upset about not being invited to campus anymore.  That's fine, they are free to complain loudly about how upset they are, because I believe in freedom of speech.  That freedom doesn't mean I have to give you a microphone, though.

EricL

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #358 on: June 22, 2019, 11:46:13 PM »
Generally speaking I can get behind de-platforming.  Most platforms are private property of some sort and nobody's private property is required to post something they don't agree with.  YouTube doesn't have to post videos it doesn't agree with anymore than a home owner needs to put an "Elect Bernie" sign on their lawn next to their "Elect Trump" sign. 

That said, if people - especially people in authority - dictate what can and cannot be said to such a degree there's no venue to disagree, they actually lend credence to what they're trying to obscure.  Young people, ever searching to define their identity, clue in pretty quick into when authority figures meet their questions with smug platitudes and casual repression.  Platitudes made worse and nonsensical because the repression was so much easier.  Dissent goes underground and becomes "cool."  Instead of an academic subject for objective examination and argument, it becomes BS group identification.  Plus the repression itself becomes "evidence" of the repressed ideas' relevance.  The harder the authorities grip, the more relevant the ideas seem.   This has happened before.  It's happening now.  It will almost certainly happen in the future.

I know lots of liberals are tired of arguing basic points about race, sex, etc.  ("Yes.  The Holocaust happened!  The fucking Germans literally printed millions of files documenting it in excruciating detail.  Those pictures  ain't from the Civil War!")   They just want to shut down the resurgent BS.  I understand the sentiment.  It is exhausting.  But I think in the long run it's better to roll up your sleeves and dive back in and just do it just like people did 10 years ago, 20 years ago, and 50 years ago.  The world is not just.  Nobody wrote a contract with you that after a certain point in history everybody will be enlightened/see your POV.  Sometimes the goal turns out to be five miles farther than you thought.

Wolfpack Mustachian

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #359 on: June 23, 2019, 01:44:31 PM »
However, you were very clear above in your belief that there is no way, period, for me to not be ethically culpable.

That is incorrect. I do not believe that there is "no way, period", just that it is incredibly difficult.

No, the statement you just made above is incorrect. You said as much here:


Because they only way to avoid ethical culpability in your situation is to not exist. There is no, not being culpable in your situation with the exception of not existing altogether.
Yep.


Call me old fashioned :), but not existing is pretty much the bar for there being no way for it to happen.


My perspective on guilt is pretty all encompassing. It resonates with me ethically, philosophically, practically in my life and in the lives of others I have seen, even religiously despite my initial challenges (it has been a newfound understanding of Christianity as I grew and learned that helped me to realize the part you mentioned above about not seeing anyone else as other but that all are included in God's love, although I do a poor job at many times of displaying this). I said guilt is of dubious value, and I firmly believe it. It can help to guide us to apologies and attempts at recompense when we have done something wrong in the short term. Past the very short term, it tends to have very negative consequences. Guilt in my life and in the lives of so many others is extremely negative. I was a whole heck of a lot more guilt ridden when I was 10, but it comes from a negative, inward focused space.

It's sounds like your talking about the physical+emotional state of "feeling guilty". That's not what I mean at all. I don't feel that, and I agree that it's largely negative. I mean guilt in a factual sense. The understanding that I am responsible for my choice to accept the benefits of an unfair system that is biased towards me and against others. There's value for me (and , I believe, for others) in owning that choice.

Ok, so here's the issue with what you're saying. Of course I'm talking about the physical emotional state of feeling guilty. Of course I'm talking about the internals of it. That's all there is left in the argument.

We've both agreed that acknowledging the fact that we've benefited from the society is good. We've acknowledged the facts. That's a good goal of where to get people to. You keep trying to go beyond that. Beyond acknowledgment of facts is inevitably going to tie to internal assessment of responsibility - ergo, guilt. Additionally, you keep either using or at least allowing the language of ethics - we've talked culpability, you even mention the word guilt in your explanation here, etc. These ethical ideas in this context are of course tied to internal feelings of guilt. Otherwise what would be the point of extending beyond an explanation of the facts? The facts alone show that we've benefited, and others haven't. We can make with that what we want, but if we really believe that we're more fortunate than others, helping comes out of that.

What you've done here with linking ethics and assigning blame to anyone who is white and doesn't decide to commit suicide is to create this internal situation I have been talking about all along. It is using guilt, which is inexorably tied to feeling guilty. You can call it factual guilt all you want, it's still guilt. It's still assigning blame. These don't just exist intellectually. You've created a worst case of a worst case situation. Pretty much anyone progressing from "I earned it myself" to "I benefited from things and others aren't as privileged" that gets pressed into taking the leap into assigning blame to themselves for the situation is confronted with terrible options. First they are guilty and they are guilty all the time. So either they feel guilty all the time until they get tired of it and shut the emotion down, probably back lashing from it to some negative traits, or they are in the toxic situation I described above of continual guilt. Again, assigning of guilt is a terrible motivator outside of the short term. So, yea, they either don't take it seriously, or they do and feel bad a lot about it because why wouldn't you, you are factually guilty. But again, this is a worst case of a worst case situation, so it's more than just that. Not only do they either accept blame for infinite duration or shunt it off because they get tired of feeling like crap. They can't even do anything about the situation to get out of the guilt. That's where the worst case worst case comes into play. The only positive of there being guilt is to shock you short term to fix the problem - apologize, help remedy the harm. There's no end to remedying this harm in your book. You're just guilty. No exoneration. You've set a up a blame assigned game where you can strive the best you can to win by helping but never get out of the hole that you didn't actually dig yourself. I didn't really think it all the way through, honestly, until writing it now, but it's even more horrible than I initially imagined before I did think it through. Now most people won't take enough time to think it through, but innately, they know that they don't want to feel guilty about something they didn't do and couldn't fix even if they wanted to. It's bad for the people we're talking to about it. It's a bad way to try to bring people around. It's not practical. Why even go down this path? It's not even factual (or at least is debatable whether it's factual) to assign blame for people just living in the society they were born in, no different than people who were born with the crap end of the stick are doing. They're just living. This blame stuff is just bad bad bad.

Let's just stick with trying to get people to acknowledge they have benefited and avoid everything that comes with assigning blame beyond when they are actually doing something to contribute to the bad parts of society that we don't like.

Watchmaker

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #360 on: June 24, 2019, 02:06:23 PM »
However, you were very clear above in your belief that there is no way, period, for me to not be ethically culpable.

That is incorrect. I do not believe that there is "no way, period", just that it is incredibly difficult.

No, the statement you just made above is incorrect. You said as much here:


Because they only way to avoid ethical culpability in your situation is to not exist. There is no, not being culpable in your situation with the exception of not existing altogether.
Yep.


Call me old fashioned :), but not existing is pretty much the bar for there being no way for it to happen.

I don't think you're old fashioned, I just think you're not thinking through all the possibilities if you think those two statements are equivalent.


Ok, so here's the issue with what you're saying. Of course I'm talking about the physical emotional state of feeling guilty. Of course I'm talking about the internals of it. That's all there is left in the argument.

We've both agreed that acknowledging the fact that we've benefited from the society is good. We've acknowledged the facts.

Great!

Sorry, I don't have time to respond to everything you said individually. I'm on the road and about to disconnect from the internet for a while; I will come back to this conversation, but it will be a week or so.

But in short--I think you're reading some things into my words that aren't meant to be there (which is, of course, my fault for not being clearer). What I meant when I said guilt, and what you mean when you say guilt are clearly not the same. Let me try it in different words to avoid the ones that seem to be a source of disagreement.

-We are responsible for the the society we live in.
-If our society is unfair, that is because of choices we make.
-Because the unfairness is often amorphous and subtle, it can be easy for people to disavow their individual responsibility and say "I'm not part of the problem".
-It's healthier, more honest, and more productive to acknowledge that individual responsibility, particularly in the cases where you are a beneficiary of a bias.

Wolfpack Mustachian

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #361 on: June 26, 2019, 10:49:09 AM »
Thanks for the positive responses even when I've been snarky.

I'm genuinely confused to as to what you mean here:

However, you were very clear above in your belief that there is no way, period, for me to not be ethically culpable.

That is incorrect. I do not believe that there is "no way, period", just that it is incredibly difficult.

No, the statement you just made above is incorrect. You said as much here:


Because they only way to avoid ethical culpability in your situation is to not exist. There is no, not being culpable in your situation with the exception of not existing altogether.
Yep.


Call me old fashioned :), but not existing is pretty much the bar for there being no way for it to happen.

I don't think you're old fashioned, I just think you're not thinking through all the possibilities if you think those two statements are equivalent.


I eliminated my own possibility of escaping culpability by literally, physically escaping because that involves privilege. You haven't mentioned another option, and you commented yes to my question in direct response to everything that the only way to avoid culpability is to not exist. Since you said that you would have to not exist to avoid culpability, then I have to stand by what I said that if that's the bar for things, then the bar is impossible. Where am I misunderstanding the progression?

In regards to the other thoughts:


Ok, so here's the issue with what you're saying. Of course I'm talking about the physical emotional state of feeling guilty. Of course I'm talking about the internals of it. That's all there is left in the argument.

We've both agreed that acknowledging the fact that we've benefited from the society is good. We've acknowledged the facts.

Great!

Sorry, I don't have time to respond to everything you said individually. I'm on the road and about to disconnect from the internet for a while; I will come back to this conversation, but it will be a week or so.

But in short--I think you're reading some things into my words that aren't meant to be there (which is, of course, my fault for not being clearer). What I meant when I said guilt, and what you mean when you say guilt are clearly not the same. Let me try it in different words to avoid the ones that seem to be a source of disagreement.

-We are responsible for the the society we live in.
-If our society is unfair, that is because of choices we make.
-Because the unfairness is often amorphous and subtle, it can be easy for people to disavow their individual responsibility and say "I'm not part of the problem".
-It's healthier, more honest, and more productive to acknowledge that individual responsibility, particularly in the cases where you are a beneficiary of a bias.

I definitely think there's a disconnect between what we're meaning by our words but some on the substance as well at least from how I'm reading your points.

For the individual points, I would agree that we are somewhat responsible for the society we live in. At least, we have some responsibility to work toward changes we want to see. However, I do not really agree that if society is unfair it's because of the choices we make if the we drills down to all individuals.

Let's use politics as an example. Are we (all collective and drilled down to each individual person) responsible for everything bad that's happened the past few years with Trump. What if I didn't vote for Trump? What if I actively opposed him, campaigned for Clinton, spent 80 hours a week trying to get him not elected? I would say at some point on that spectrum, at least, I would bear no responsibility for it happening or the resulting decisions. I get that this line of thought can lead to apathy and a "well it's not my fault" attitude, but I think it's a good example to prove that the statement "If our society is unfair, that is because of choices we make." is not universally true.

I guess there are two points overall. One, I don't think that we individually have personal responsiblity for not eliminating bad situations overall and existing inside them. Society is too vast. We can benefit from someting and not be at fault for the something we've benefited from. The second part is the fact that we are talking about guilt even though we are looking at things differently. I think that if we use the term guilt, then the majority of people will have a hard time separating in their mind factual guilt as you say from an internal problematic guilt. That's been my experience. I also see parallells here to the improved terminology of biases. I think it's been a good step to call out unconscious biases in terms of how we handle situations and see people in our mind due to media presentation, upbringing, etc. Rather than call everyone racist, a very loaded term, we call it out for biases, and can even truthfully indicate that minorities often have these biases against themselves. It's something we can fight and work towards, but we remove the loaded term of racism when people aren't out there throwing out racial slurs, calling the police for no reason on minorities, laughing at racist jokes, etc. It makes it easier for people to acknowledge the issues even inside themselves and is actually very accurate. I think this is the same thing. Let's acknowledge the problem - a biased system which we benefit from but also fully factually, one in which we are born into and one that we can and should work to eliminate. I think we can focus on that with the same perspective as the biases without taking the leap to the blame part, which will alienate more people, feel like an attack, and ultimately not be a true black and white issue (there's a continuum of responsibility that we could discuss for the societal issues, it's not clear cut).

BTDretire

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #362 on: June 27, 2019, 05:52:59 PM »
By that same token, we should avoid using the words "kill," "murder," "snuff out," etc. in ANY context because someone in the company of our conversation may have been subjected to homicide (or a loved one)?  When my comedian friend gets off stage, I am no longer allowed to say "man you really killed it!" because someone in earshot could be triggered? This is a very slippery slope. Maybe we should all be mute so there is zero probability of unknowingly offending someone with a particular word or its usage?

Murder is quite rare (luckily), so relatively few people have been directly affected by a murder (and you'll never get a chance to offend a murder victim). Sexual assault is, sadly, much more common. In any decent sized crowd, there is a high likelihood of there being a sexual assault survivor.
 
A thought experiment: Imagine my sister was murdered. We go out for a game of tennis; my first fun activity since it happened. We beat our opponents easily. Are you going to say to me "We murdered them!"? Probably not, because you'd understand that could be upsetting. That's an extreme case, but my point is there are circumstances where pretty much everyone agrees you should censor yourself. We just all draw the line in different places.

  If your tennis opponent was just just jilted by someone she was madly in love with, and the score was 15/love should you say 15/zero?
This politically correct BS has gone to far.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2019, 12:52:29 PM by BTDretire »

ketchup

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #363 on: June 28, 2019, 11:12:42 AM »
By that same token, we should avoid using the words "kill," "murder," "snuff out," etc. in ANY context because someone in the company of our conversation may have been subjected to homicide (or a loved one)?  When my comedian friend gets off stage, I am no longer allowed to say "man you really killed it!" because someone in earshot could be triggered? This is a very slippery slope. Maybe we should all be mute so there is zero probability of unknowingly offending someone with a particular word or its usage?

Murder is quite rare (luckily), so relatively few people have been directly affected by a murder (and you'll never get a chance to offend a murder victim). Sexual assault is, sadly, much more common. In any decent sized crowd, there is a high likelihood of there being a sexual assault survivor.
 
A thought experiment: Imagine my sister was murdered. We go out for a game of tennis; my first fun activity since it happened. We beat our opponents easily. Are you going to say to me "We murdered them!"? Probably not, because you'd understand that could be upsetting. That's an extreme case, but my point is there are circumstances where pretty much everyone agrees you should censor yourself. We just all draw the line in different places.

  If your tennis opponent was just just jilted by someone she was madly line love with, and the score was 15/love should you say 15/zero?
This politically correct BS has gone to far.
I always thought it was "glove" for some reason....   I'm an idiot.

RetiredAt63

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #364 on: June 28, 2019, 12:30:06 PM »
By that same token, we should avoid using the words "kill," "murder," "snuff out," etc. in ANY context because someone in the company of our conversation may have been subjected to homicide (or a loved one)?  When my comedian friend gets off stage, I am no longer allowed to say "man you really killed it!" because someone in earshot could be triggered? This is a very slippery slope. Maybe we should all be mute so there is zero probability of unknowingly offending someone with a particular word or its usage?

Murder is quite rare (luckily), so relatively few people have been directly affected by a murder (and you'll never get a chance to offend a murder victim). Sexual assault is, sadly, much more common. In any decent sized crowd, there is a high likelihood of there being a sexual assault survivor.
 
A thought experiment: Imagine my sister was murdered. We go out for a game of tennis; my first fun activity since it happened. We beat our opponents easily. Are you going to say to me "We murdered them!"? Probably not, because you'd understand that could be upsetting. That's an extreme case, but my point is there are circumstances where pretty much everyone agrees you should censor yourself. We just all draw the line in different places.

  If your tennis opponent was just just jilted by someone she was madly line love with, and the score was 15/love should you say 15/zero?
This politically correct BS has gone to far.
I always thought it was "glove" for some reason....   I'm an idiot.
To totally sidetrack, it came from the French "oeuf" which is egg, because a 0 looks like an egg.

pudding

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #365 on: June 28, 2019, 03:02:30 PM »
When people say Huw-where   instead of where...    as in they put the h before the w.   Drives me mental!

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #366 on: June 28, 2019, 03:50:26 PM »
When people say Huw-where   instead of where...    as in they put the h before the w.   Drives me mental!

That's an annoyance, not a trigger.

BTDretire

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #367 on: June 28, 2019, 07:01:29 PM »
When people say Huw-where   instead of where...    as in they put the h before the w.   Drives me mental!

That's an annoyance, not a trigger.

 Don't try to tell him what his triggers are! That's certainly politically incorrect.

spartana

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #368 on: June 29, 2019, 08:40:23 AM »

2Cent

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #369 on: July 02, 2019, 02:45:52 AM »
As this thread is anyway getting off topic, what about Biden vs Harris?
Should Joe Biden be held to account for things he said 40 years ago?

Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #370 on: July 02, 2019, 05:22:40 AM »
Depends.  I certainly think he should be held accountable for knucklehead things he said on June 19, 2019 and on the debate.

I doubt anybody would have dredged up the fact that he had a cordial relationship with Dixiecrats Eastland and Talmadge if he hadn't brought it up himself.

There were good responses that Biden could have made to Harris's debate attack as well. Forced busing wasn't universally popular with Black Americans of the time. He could also have pointed to progressive legislation (if any) that passed because of his alliance with the Dixiecrats. But he just didn't make these points, for some reason. 

Dabnasty

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #371 on: July 02, 2019, 06:32:44 AM »
Depends.  I certainly think he should be held accountable for knucklehead things he said on June 19, 2019 and on the debate.

I doubt anybody would have dredged up the fact that he had a cordial relationship with Dixiecrats Eastland and Talmadge if he hadn't brought it up himself.

There were good responses that Biden could have made to Harris's debate attack as well. Forced busing wasn't universally popular with Black Americans of the time. He could also have pointed to progressive legislation (if any) that passed because of his alliance with the Dixiecrats. But he just didn't make these points, for some reason.

Ya, I don't judge him for his past but I am disappointed in his responses.

Saying he was able to work with politicians he disagreed with is a relevant and important thing. He was pointing out that it seems we've lost the ability to be civil in these situations. I don't think the offense taken by Harris and Booker was genuine and I don't think the way they interpreted his comment was fair, but his getting angry, while a normal human reaction considering his lifetime of fighting for civil rights, didn't look good and shows a weakness as a candidate.

Likewise, I didn't like Harris's framing in the debate. It felt disingenuous and she knew his stance on busing was too complex to give a simple answer in the time allowed. But while I didn't like it on a personal level, that kind of lawyerish attack may be just what is needed against Trump.

ETA: Oh geez, this is the trigger words thread? We should take this back to one of the many threads about presidential candidates.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2019, 06:36:01 AM by Dabnasty »

Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #372 on: July 02, 2019, 09:18:30 AM »
To get back on topic, I think a fair way of dealing with trigger words on this forum would be to use the
Spoiler: show
Spoiler function.


And it's not a bad idea to let students know if there is going to be trigger words or discussions in a classroom discussion. This allows the topic to be discussed without stressing people out, like those warnings on TV where they tell you that topics unsuitable for kids are about to come on. I'd raise my eyebrows if somebody started to talk about upsetting topics or bathroom topics at the dinner table, then privately take them aside to the woodshed and start whacking them with a two-by-four. But the same issues were raised in appropriate company I would probably be happy to join in the conversation.

I don't see a real issue with people learning to adapt their language to fit a situation, as long as important issues can be discussed frankly as needed.

SpeedReader

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #373 on: July 06, 2019, 07:05:45 AM »
To get back on topic, I think a fair way of dealing with trigger words on this forum would be to use the
Spoiler: show
Spoiler function.


And it's not a bad idea to let students know if there is going to be trigger words or discussions in a classroom discussion. This allows the topic to be discussed without stressing people out, like those warnings on TV where they tell you that topics unsuitable for kids are about to come on. I'd raise my eyebrows if somebody started to talk about upsetting topics or bathroom topics at the dinner table, then privately take them aside to the woodshed and start whacking them with a two-by-four. But the same issues were raised in appropriate company I would probably be happy to join in the conversation.

I don't see a real issue with people learning to adapt their language to fit a situation, as long as important issues can be discussed frankly as needed.

The problem isn't with the civility of giving a notice, it's with the expansion ad nauseum of what is a "trigger". 

Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #374 on: July 06, 2019, 10:17:51 AM »
To get back on topic, I think a fair way of dealing with trigger words on this forum would be to use the
Spoiler: show
Spoiler function.


And it's not a bad idea to let students know if there is going to be trigger words or discussions in a classroom discussion. This allows the topic to be discussed without stressing people out, like those warnings on TV where they tell you that topics unsuitable for kids are about to come on. I'd raise my eyebrows if somebody started to talk about upsetting topics or bathroom topics at the dinner table, then privately take them aside to the woodshed and start whacking them with a two-by-four. But the same issues were raised in appropriate company I would probably be happy to join in the conversation.

I don't see a real issue with people learning to adapt their language to fit a situation, as long as important issues can be discussed frankly as needed.

The problem isn't with the civility of giving a notice, it's with the expansion ad nauseum of what is a "trigger".

Yes and no. I think that people are a lot less careful about their speech than they used to be.  I'm only a Gen Xer, but I'm old enough to remember when words like
Spoiler: show
"rape" were not used to discuss anything but actual rape
,  instead of referring to trivial things like getting cheated on a deal, tricked, pwned, etc.

Poundwise

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Re: "Trigger" words
« Reply #375 on: July 06, 2019, 10:27:33 AM »
... and another thought. I've often wondered how social constructs like manners and taboos came about.  In many cases, they were attempts to solve a problem, though they caused problems of their own.

For instance, why was it taboo to discuss sexual abuse (of both children and adults) for so long, when daylight is the best disinfectant?  Is it possible that there have been several pressures leading to this conspiracy of silence?  As a parent, I find myself censoring my discussions in front of children in order to
- not scare them
- not give them too much to handle at once
- not give them "ideas"
and also in front of adults, I don't know who may have suffered abuse, and I don't want to upset them ("trigger" them).

But the silence also plays into the hands of abusers.

Thus as a society, we're trying to find a solution that allows all topics to be discussed, and yet provide an exit to people who do not want to participate in the discussion.