Trigger Warnings: Latest Censorship or End Thereof

Alex Seymour '17

Contributing Writer

A month ago, if you had asked me what I thought about trigger warnings, I would have rolled my eyes and told you I thought they were just a way for people to get out of things that challenge their worlds and make them uncomfortable. I believe people need to have their worlds challenged. But I have since had a change of mind.

Now, it occurs to me that these pieces of media that come with trigger warnings would have probably been burned or banned in another setting. The trigger warning takes power away from the would-be destroyers. These works can now stay intact, and it is up to the people to decide for themselves what they can and cannot handle.

Additionally, I have realized that trigger warnings give agency to the individuals rather than suits like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). When it comes to live broadcast, anyone who has participated in WOZQ knows that there are too many rules to keep track of. One cannot use certain words on air or play content that is considered to be obscene. These rules only scratch the surface. Furthermore, if one wants to hear unadulterated versions of shows and comedy specials, they have to pay for premium channels, which add a pretty penny to the monthly cable bill. If instead there were trigger warnings before certain programs on public channels, a person could make the choice to change the channel.

Trigger warnings would also significantly reduce conflict related to speech. If a person issued a trigger warning, they could be as foul-mouthed and politically incorrect as they wanted, and anyone who is inclined to be offended would know what they were getting into and not be taken by surprise.

If movies had trigger warnings instead of ratings, people under the age of 17 could make the choice to go to R-rated movies without a babysitter. Because let’s be honest, what sixteen-year-old wouldn’t love the ability to choose for him or herself?

The MPAA rating system for film is under constant criticism. Some argue that nudity should be more prevalent and violence less so. Others argue that films such as The King’s Speech, which have only received high ratings for language, should not be judged so harshly. All-purpose trigger warnings would be an easy fix.

I say we give the agency back to the people.