Marcy Burstiner's "Warning: This Column Contains Objectionable Material" (Sept. 29) was the most reasonable piece I've read on the "trigger warning" issue in some time, though it is flawed. In spirit of full disclosure, I write horror novels and short stories, many of which I've been told should have trigger warnings. To that I say, "Read the description or look at the cover."
Burstiner won't watch "violent movies or television shows alone" because when an act of "extreme" violence is about to occur she closes her eyes due to being a "weenie" who "can't handle it." Why is she watching it in the first place then? And, more importantly, how does she define "extreme?" Our definitions may differ, and that is the problem.
Trigger warnings and safe places fail because the former is so broad it is meaningless and the latter simply can't exist. Burstiner states that "without the warnings" students "risk" the message that they aren't welcome in class or on campus. I would say they get the message that they are being treated as adults capable of making choices for themselves based on their life experiences.
Granted, Burstiner has a choice of what to watch (unless it is for her work), and a college student has naturally fewer choices. Students are smart enough to know that a course in, say, gender depictions in media may include an encounter in pornography much like they know they will hear "harsh" language when seeing a Tarantino film. People would have a right to be upset if they took a cooking class and were suddenly talking about rape, much like people would have a right to be up in arms if they went to see Disney's Beauty and the Beast and witnessed graphic evisceration.
Perhaps Burstiner has been hiding her eyes too much.
Doug Brunell, Eureka