Special Snowflakes?

There have been several commentaries on an article about a student government request at one of the University of California branches. It seems that we now have a generation of young people so crippled by trauma of one sort or another that they needed to be warned when heavy weather is ahead in the literature they’re expected to read. What they want is trigger warnings for each work.

I’m not going to go into the pros and cons about whether this is a good or bad thing, or about the causes for the apparent inability to deal with literature that reflects real life. That’s been done well enough.

More important is what this means for writers. Are there really so many traumatized youngsters that respecting their sensitivities should be a consideration when we write a novel or story? More crudely, can this phenomenon, if it truly exists, affect the bottom line?

My personal view is that we’re obliged to be truthful to our characters. There has never been any time when a particular book would please everyone. Modifying what we write to suit some unknown set of readers who might be offended or disturbed by it is a betrayal of ourselves and our creativity.

Moreover, I believe this is a trend that shouldn’t be encouraged. There has already been too much mindless acceptance of the victim mentality. Acknowledging that there are people out there with trauma of varying degrees of seriousness doesn’t require us to be their protectors and therapists. Part of overcoming trauma is facing it. Individuals are entitled to whatever help is available. Beyond that, they have a choice. Learn to deal with reality or hide from it.

US Students Request Trigger Warnings in Literature

And here’s an excellent blog post, by Audrey Kalman that goes into some depth. Word Up


11 thoughts on “Special Snowflakes?

  1. Trigger Warning: I don’t give a good g*ddamn for their tender feelings. I write military scifi, my fans like the bloody true to life detail, and this includes people who have been through the real sh*t, and I really don’t care if it offends some Special Snowflake who has never been near a scary armed person in his life.

    1. Okay, tough guy. I’ve read some military SF that I really like. Are you familiar with Suan R. Matthews’ An Exchange of Hostages? It’s the first novel of a series. Very unusual, and very disturbing when it comes to violence, especially the first one. And that gives me an idea. I plan to do more book reviews, mostly SF, and military SF would be a good entry.

      I can understand the problem for someone who been the subject of rape or other violence. But you have to find a way to get beyond it, not cultivate it.

    1. How did I miss your post? It’s excellent. I’m going to add it to the end of my post. And why the heck is that stuff just getting big play now?

  2. OMG… Leave it to the coddled Californians to be the first to come up with this crap! It actually is kind of surprising because the senior classes graduating this month in Los Angeles can NOT read a complete sentence without having to sound out the two-syllable words! How in the world were they able to get their ridiculous request into writing? Who was the psychobabbler that assisted them in their quest to get out of more homework. If they are that overly sensitive, they should be in a special facility – NOT a place of learning.

    P.s. I live in Los Angeles, assist international exchange students from all over the world and would NEVER hear anything this stupid from students from any other country!

    1. Great rant, punctuation and all. Yeah, my first reaction about it being California would have sounded too much like a cliche, but it *is* the home of way-out ideas. But their literacy level is pretty much the norm now. The latest statistic is that 40% of American students can now be considered literate.

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