William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Columbia University Concludes All Western Civilization Triggering

That doesn't look like a Yes to me.

That doesn’t look like a Yes to me.

Word from Columbia University is that yet another female creature was triggered. Our victim was in her “Lit Hum” class—Columbia is, and soon to be “was”, one of the few schools which retained the classics of Western literature—when the professor stumbled across the myth of Persephone.

Now Persephone was out among her flowers—she and her mother were the gods responsible for asparagus and other greenery—when Hades pulled her under and laid her down. Homer has more details than Ovid, but neither description can be termed vivid. Well, Ovid mentions a “bosom”.

Anyway, the Columbia student claimed to be a “survivor” of a “sexual assault”, the nature of which was never revealed. Perhaps a male ogled her without permission. Skip it.

You won’t believe it, but this injured femme claimed “her professor focused on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text” and not on her victimhood! “As a result,” reports the Columbia Spectator, “the student completely disengaged from the class discussion as a means of self-preservation. She did not feel safe in the class.” She could have died!

I can’t speak for you, dear reader, but when I read that I wept.

The paper goes on to insist “many texts in the Western canon…[contain] triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom. These texts, wrought with histories and narratives of exclusion and oppression, can be difficult to read and discuss as a survivor, a person of color, or a student from a low-income background.”

Solution? Eliminate the texts. I say burn them in the campus’s sustainable wood-fired electricity generation plant. Waste not, want not. And listen: we’re talking megawatts here, because it’s not only Ovid that gets consigned to the flames.

Recall: Poseidon set down his trident and, without a signed contract of mutual consent, had his watery way with Medusa. All recall the sequel. She became the world’s first feminist and, long before Andrea Dworkin came on the scene, patented the now-familiar withering vituperative feminist scowl. And Medusa’s looks could kill! Whereas the best modern feminists can do is to make the priesthood looked darned appealing.

Don’t let’s forget that Zeus was a particularly randy god. A sneaky one, too. Turned himself into a swan so he could get past Leda’s vigilance. He also forced himself upon Antiope. And those are only the low-lights. Reading about the antics of Greek gods could trigger even a Filipino sailor.

Purge Plutarch! He embarrassed us all by denoting the unscheduled trip the Sabine women were forced to make when their men were absent from home. Now he might have kept his place in the canon, except that the unmannered brute told us what happened afterwards. Seems these Sabinian ladies took a shine to their deflowerers (you heard me) and reasoned that men as vigorous as all that would make good husbands. Plus, they didn’t want to see their daddies involved in a useless fight defending absent honors. Rome soon had a new crop of healthy, happy babies.

We’re going to have to burn all the copies of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, too.

In the interest of fairness to men, who hardly ever get to play at being triggered, who recalls what occurred when Lot’s daughters got him liquored up? A tale to put you off the bottle, men. And these events took place after Lot had protected his heavenly house guests from the aggravated buggery threatened by inhospitable Sodomites (the originals, you understand). And wasn’t Dinah set upon by a slavering Canaanite? She was.

Out goes the Bible.

Do we even need to discuss the Japanese army’s appalling behavior in Nanking? And, come to think on it, the behavior of most armies everywhere, everywhen? So much for military history. What about the endless series of pretty young things served up to Mao and infected with his syphilitic seed? Oh dear. Thing is, Mao’s aberrant treatment of the ladies was not as rare as one would like. Even a moment’s thought is enough to convince that all of history is triggering. Don’t even mention Shakespeare. No other solution but a complete canon purge can prevent survivors and students of color and of low-income from grief.

Does this mean high-income white men are made of sterner stuff? I’m just asking.

Keep moving. It’s worse that you thought. A professor allowed one class to suggest a book they should all read. A wounded student put up Toni Morrison. But “another student declared that texts by authors of the African Diaspora are a staple in most high school English classes, and therefore they did not need to reread them.” The paper said that this student’s remark “was not merely insensitive, but also revealing of larger ideological divides.” Like the chasm between well-written and victim-hyped literature.

Columbia’s Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board on Literature & Humanities isn’t happy about the freedom professors retain. “Experiences in the classroom,” they say, “all too often traumatize and silence students.” Traumatizing, dear reader, is a bad thing. Worst news is that “not all professors seem equipped to be effective facilitators in the classroom.”

The MAAB demands “a learning environment that recognizes the multiplicity of their identities.” To this end they’re going to shoot off “a letter to faculty about potential trigger warnings and suggestions for how to support triggered students.” They’re also going to set up a re-education camp for profs to teach them “to constructively facilitate conversations that embrace all identities”. Professors need to be made to acknowledge that Western culture has “created an unjust, unequal, and oppressive existence for many”. Not the MAAB members, naturally, who are living the high life.

Ending on an upbeat note, the MAAB noted that “many instructors have been receptive” and have “expressed dedication” to removing the last vestiges of civilization from Columbia.

Related: ISIS’ destruction of biblical Iraq: A bitter irony of history. Also, Universities? Nuke ’em From Orbit. It’s The Only Way To Be Sure.
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Thanks to Shotover for alerting us to this tawdry subject.

31 Comments

  1. I think I need to go slap a bunch of people–women mostly and I’m not particular about which ones. Followed by screaming in their faces to grow up, deal with life and shut the * up and get on with life. This idiotic “I’m a victim” bs is sooooo damaging to real women I cannot tell you how much I loathe these people. There are not words to describe, both how the whiney woman and spineless administration need to be put in their places. They are vile creatures that damage society and people stand by and let them. Why????? If people really believe that constantly believing one is traumatized and a victim is the way to live–that is a sadistic, evil belief letting us know where this group belongs. Kind people believe one gets better and gets on with life.

    How about we eliminate women, people not white and low-income from the rosters. Okay, colleges would close because the feds only pay for these people and there aren’t enough other people to fill rosters, but at least we would not have $50,000 useless diplomas from universities that teach NOTHING. Another colossal waste of taxpayer money. And where are the alumni? I stopped giving to my college several years back when they went stupid.

    Don’t suppose we can send these folks to say, North Korea, as exchange students?

  2. 1. It has long been known that Western Civ was destined for the dustbin of history. Many colleges have watered down their core (making cries for the preservation for the humanities impotent—if humanities are not being taught in fullness in the first place, what on earth is there to preserve?), but Columbia and a few others stood firm. The only question was what would push Western Civ off the edge, and now we know.

    2. This episode paves the way for uncredentialed administrators to worm themselves into the classroom—to make themselves available to review classroom content for potential triggers, and to facilitate classroom interactions between faculty and students. I don’t think I’m joking: Professors everywhere, beware.

    3. College isn’t for everybody.

  3. Out goes the Bible?

    Didn’t that leave a long time ago?

    Don’t forget that Lot had offered his daughters up to the riffraff in place of his guests. Don’t forget the activities of the Benjamites during “Judges” (sounded like a replay of the Sodom/Lot incident). (Then there was the mailed body parts – same story from Judges – in the best tradition of today’s serial killers.)

  4. Now Persephone was out among her flowers—her and her mother were the gods responsible for asparagus and other greenery…

    “her and her mother”? Wow, your enemies are brazen today. Not that I don’t hear erroneous grammar everywhere nowadays, but really, did they sneak this in after the proofreading?

    Sheri — nice rant, and so accurate. Victimhood, when frequently accommodated, becomes a success strategy. Ya go with what ya got.

  5. Briggs

    May 4, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Gary,

    My enemies are better proofreaders than I am!

  6. “Anyway, the Columbia student claimed to be a “survivor” of a “sexual assault”, ”
    I am still trying to find the statistics on how many women are killed by sexual assault every year. The FBI doesn’t seem to have the statistics.

  7. Just think. Once I thought Ivy League Universities were respected institutions of higher learning. Now they are taught by idiots who propagate more idiots with every graduation. But one example: try and make a living as a sustainment engineer!

  8. These delicate little flowers (and that includes the males who succumb to this garbage) coming out of America’s colleges and universities are going to have a hard time adapting to real life (I see new categories of disability claims in our nation’s future).

    Plus, they are going to be a real pain in the ass to everyone around them.

  9. Sander van der Wal

    May 4, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Well, as long as Americans are only people suffering from this dimwittery there isn’t really a problem.

    Unfortunately it is mildly contagious.

  10. For what it’s worth, “feeling ‘unsafe'” is apparently the new magic word, which seemingly automatically now invokes a Title IX presumption of a ‘hostile environment’ (sexual discrimination or harassment). Or, at least, it creates the fear of an actionable Title IX violation regarding it.

    Yes, there are theoretically a few logical and legal steps between “feeling unsafe” and “sexual discrimination/harassment”. But the movement to reduce those steps is gaining ground rapidly, it would seem.

    A few moments of researching “Title IX ‘feeling unsafe'” or just “Title IX unsafe” will amply demonstrate the mindset.

    The right (of the set of potential victims of discrimination/harassment) not to “feel unsafe” may quite rapidly become a trump card in academic, and possibly other, environments.

  11. Sheri,

    Don’t hold back, tell us how you really feel.

    “Nuke ’em From Orbit. It’s The Only Way To Be Sure.” was the right idea.

  12. Please remind me why a Man would want to marry these ladies??

  13. It would be laughable if it didn’t represent serious repercussions.
    Whenever my wife went to the clinic/ER/hospital, etc. – There are those interminable health history/health surveys.
    When processing an insurance claim and to prepare for a move my wife requested all of her medical records.
    When it came to the question, “do you feel safe in your home?”, it was 50/50 whether she answered (or maybe worse, the nurse recorded) yes or no. In the first place, the question is so non-specific.
    I’m sure the intent of the question is: “Are you in fear of your husband or boyfriend?” I’m sure my wife could have interpreted “I’ve been hearing about some local criminal activity and fear for my safety” “I’m hearing all these scientific warning about Global Warming and I don’t have air conditioning” or it may very well be the nurse may be projecting her own fears about life and answered in the positive for my wife.

    Being the mild-mannered kind of guy I am, and given my wife’s passionate personality, if any of us has “feared” for their safety, it’s me – but I’ve never been asked. (Being married to me, my wife has had to fear for her sanity a time or two.

  14. John B(): It’s interesting that they ask that “Do you feel safe?” question with a spouse in the room. I just went through a lot of medical visits and hospital stays and they asked the question with my husband sitting there. How foolish of them. It’s not likely I would say yes if it were true with the abuser sitting in the room with me. It’s just the questioner filling in a box on a computer form.

    (Also, we had a hospital employee killed by her abusive husband. She refused to leave him until too late. Knowing the danger did not promote action.)

    Yes, I rant on this and I make no apologies. I find this entire behaviour very damaging to society. Actually, I did tone it down a bit before actually posting. 🙂

  15. Well, we can at least take comfort in the fact that this kind of thing is effectively killing the last vestiges of heroism on the left (if it ever had anything that could accurately be described as heroism).

    These aren’t the Leftists who charged French soldiers during the Revolution, these are precious snowflake cowards who can be knocked down very easily. All it requires is a little force. What do you know? our very IDEAS burn them like acid and send them into a catatonic ‘unsafe’ coma-state!

  16. @Jerry M,

    “Please remind me why a Man would want to marry these ladies??”

    Most of those ladies have no interest in marrying a man.

  17. I’m just waiting for the day when I’m told that asking a question of my remedial math students is triggering.

  18. Your post reminded me of a line from Randy Pausch’s book The Last Lecture. When Randy was complaining to his mother about how hard graduate school is, she reminded him that at his age his father was fighting the Nazis in WWII. At least Pauch le père didn’t have to go through the traumatizing experience of reading Ovid.

  19. I’m surprised Aristophanes’s Lysistrata didn’t get a passing mention.

  20. JohnB()’s account of the question asked his wife: “do you feel safe in your home?” makes me realize how extensively “feel safe” has infiltrated bureaucracies, how nebulous is its meaning, and how completely dependent it is on the respondent’s interpretation and/or ‘feeling.’ And I know from personal experience that that type of language (“feel safe”) has been in use in for decades in at least some healthcare screenings for women.

    Note that a question like that was originally meant to be a deliberately vague leading question. It was meant to be a screening mechanism. The assumption is that any “Yes, I feel safe” is correct, with any “No” response taken by the protocol as a “trigger warning” — at the very least, as demanding (triggering) follow-up questions.

    So “feeling safe” has been shaped within certain environments as deliberately vague, as “exploratory,” so that it triggers(!?) more questions from an experienced, caring healthcare provider. After all, how would you feel if you as a clinician failed to notice abuse, plus — how do you bring up such an intense subject semi-casually? A “No” response gives the provider a hint that something may be not quite right, and that more private discussion with the patient may be beneficial.

    That was the theory of it, anyway. But over time, it seems that a screening question with a therapeutic intent began to be taken to also trigger legal tripwires within academic and health (and other) bureaucracies.

    Of course, “trigger warning” is now being used with a modified meaning: that it triggers, not external legal tripwires, but the beginning, or simply a potential beginning, of bad feelings or thoughts within an individual.

    And now what’s even newer is not just the tie to a semi-explicit Title IX threat, but also how this entire therapeutic/clinical/legal/bureaucratic drama is now considered to be able to occur strictly with the individual, whose report by itself then sets legal/bureaucratic mechanisms in motion.

    That is, it’s as if a therapeutic question on “feeling safe,” with follow up questions, and then a finding of threat/discrimination/harassment, can now take place entirely within an individual’s mind, who (always truthfully, of course) simply reports the finding, thus automatically setting the legal/bureaucratic mechanism in motion.

    This is an even more efficient way of protecting potential victims and of ensuring their right to a safe environment. Now, you can self-screen! And your friend, the academic/health/federal/state/legal/etc. bureaucracy, will respond to your need.

    And if it doesn’t…. Yes, don’t forget that the pain-free course in many instances must be for these bureaucracies to treat each of these self-screening findings as completely real, and completely serious. Or else some other part of the Octopus, sensing an advantage, might come after your very own tentacle.

    What could go wrong?

  21. Well, for two decades she/they have been conditioned to perceive themselves as victims, this is the natural consequence. Some here have said “wait until she/they get out into the real world.” Everywhere I go, I see the real world (in the US at least) conditioned to perceive employers/police etc. as victimizers. I now see billboards advertising “Don’t be a victim (sic), fight back against wrongful termination, harrassment… call 800 LAWS-R-US.” The contortions we have to go through to hire someone, fire someone, etc. are insane. Everyone knows that if they use the “h” word in an email to HR, they are immediately invulnerable to any adverse employment action. Sigh…

  22. A good SF novel (and it’s free on Kindle) that shows where all this is heading:

    http://www.amazon.com/Fledgling-Liaden-Universe-Book-11-ebook/dp/B00APAELRI/ref=sr_1_24?ie=UTF8&qid=1430790320&sr=8-24&keywords=fledging

    Written 6 years ago by a former academic:

  23. I think we can consider the experiment of higher coeducation over.

  24. Another explanation,

    http://drboli.com/2015/03/19/on-education/

    Blame YOS. For me finding it, that is.

  25. It seems to me that all of literature and fiction becomes off limits, if we are to prevent victims (oops, survivors) and the downtrodden from feeling unsafe under the conditions presented in this post. To the survivor, it does not matter how well told the story is (for heaven’s sake don’t tell your class how to write a well-written story), it only matters that the well written tale tells of a downtrodden character, scaring the survivor into feeling unsafe in the classroom (however that happens, maybe the instructor is not sufficiently sympathetic to the plight, of which he has yet to be informed).

    In the two types of stories, comedy and tragedy, most, if not all, stories have a downtrodden victim who either succumbs to the obstacles (tragedy) or overcomes them (comedy) to prosper and thrive, or at least live happily ever after.

    Even in the classic, Cinderella, the heroine is bullied, and what student has not been bullied? Even the bullies have been bullied by someone else. This leaves every student to be a survivor, of one sort or another, and can potentially be “triggered” by anything taught or experienced in school (or in “real life” for that matter).

    Our real-life survivors could be “triggered” by any of the problems that a downtrodden character experiences in any story. This puts a damper on any story that would be of interest to a literary class, and may leave only the science and math textbooks as the only appropriate literature available as college reading material.

    Perhaps, since a real-life survivor would likely identify with a downtrodden character, the solution is to have only happy-ending stories taught in school, leaving the tragedies for reading after graduation or for non-scholastic recreation. This would allow for the survivor-student to see that there is a good life after near-death (or worse than death) experiences.

    Then again, our schools would lose the ability to teach the lessons learned in the tragedies, and that would be a tragedy, indeed.

  26. Anyway, the Columbia student claimed to be a “survivor” of a “sexual assault”, … Perhaps a male ogled her without permission. Skip it.

    You won’t believe it,… “ She did not feel safe in the class.” She could have died!

    I can’t speak for you, dear reader, but when I read that I wept.

    I can’t speak for you, and perhaps, it’s fun for an older, male creature to tease a college student, but I, a mom with a daughter who volunteers to help raped victims, would never poke fun at a female college student who apparently have experienced a traumatic event and were given a chance to express her concerns for whatever reasons.

    Well, let me not commemt on some strange conclusions based on anecdotal evidence, but remind you of your tremendous influences on your own children’s behaviors.

    If I were given the chance to attend Columbia, I would have taken it in a heartbeat. I do hope if your daughter or granddaughter has the chance, you’d help her in any way you can. If a student wants to be challenged, there are plenty of opportunities, e.g., taking a higher-level course. Which is one of the best features about American college education.

  27. I do not think, after reading the article in Columbia Spectator, that the female student demands the elimination of the one-week material that triggered her emotion and that the administrators tries to tell what a professor should teach.

  28. Blame the older, male creature for teasing a college student, rather than addressing the infantile victimization culture we live in.

  29. JH,

    The student herself may not have demanded the elimination of any material or a change in curriculum or teaching methods, but the article did. The article said, “Students need to feel safe in the classroom, and that requires a learning environment that recognizes the multiplicity of their identities.”

    We males have been hearing about sexual assaults for several decades, now, and we are still unsure just what constitutes bad behavior on our part. Are we allowed to give compliments? That has gotten some men into trouble. Are we allowed to ask a girl for a date? Also a source of trouble.

    Then there are the many, many very public examples of false accusations. There was poor William Kennedy Smith who was only acquitted because “Blue Dot Girl” had left a very small piece of evidence that she framed him. The Duke Lacrosse team was falsely accused by a politically greedy district attorney, and the completely innocent coach never did get his job back.

    Please forgive me for being skeptical, but if someone is going to claim victim status, and we are to make major changes due to it (e.g. imprison or fire someone or change teaching methods) it seems only fair that we know just how victimized. The victim may not be who we were originally told, and it could ultimately turn out to be us, as in our schools or society as a whole.

  30. Edward,

    Your comments have shown me otherwise. I think you do know what constitutes appropriate behaviors.

    Is it a bad or good thing that a male needs think thrice or to wonder whether certain behavior is proper?

    Then there are the many, many very public examples of false accusations.

    Doesn’t this imply that the society is capable of doing the right thing? There are also many, many (just to go along with your “many, many,”) raped victims who are afraid of coming forward; and you probably know the reasons. There are also many legitimate cases.

    [I]f someone is going to claim victim status, and we are to make major changes due to it (e.g. imprison or fire someone or change teaching methods) it seems only fair that we know just how victimized….

    Of course. I cannot really tell you who victimize whom. The rhetoric of victimization may be useful for the media and bloggers with certain agendas, but it’s not helping.

    Anyway, Based on my experience, it’d be hard, if not impossible, for the administrators to demand any professor to drastically change their teaching methods, if things have been going well overall, for the sake of one or two extreme cases.

    Attitude changes or language changes so to better manage students may be easier to do, and can be very helpful. For example, I decided not to ever use the sentence “you don’t understand” when talking to my students a long time ago, (after all, they are students) only because of a teaching workshop offered by administrators.

    My point again, we can contribute and change the society most significantly by being good parents and good aunts and uncles!

    The good news is that the rape rate has been on a downward trend!

  31. JH,

    > I think you do know what constitutes appropriate behaviors.

    You are right. We became confused after the Clarence Thomas trial — er — confirmation hearings, then we didn’t get any better definition when the rule became (to paraphrase) ‘inappropriate behavior is anything she says it is, even long after the fact,’ and California is not helping with ‘yes means yes’ (whatever that means).

    > Then there are the many, many very public examples of false accusations.

    > Doesn’t this imply that the society is capable of doing the right thing?

    Only if society figures out what the right thing is *before* they imprison someone and force him forever after to register as a sex criminal.

    > Based on my experience, it’d be hard, if not impossible, for the administrators to demand any professor to drastically change their teaching methods,

    maybe the administration would have a hard time, but the point of the article is that the Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board had an easy time making such demands, including that there were two forums: “The goal of the forums on Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization was to give students, professors, and faculty a space to hold a safe and open dialogue about experiences in the classroom that all too often traumatize and silence students.”

    Included in what they wanted was, “the center should create a training program for all professors, including faculty and graduate instructors, which will enable them to constructively facilitate conversations that embrace all identities, share best practices, and think critically about how the Core Curriculum is framed for their students.”

    Sounds, to me, like changed teaching methods.

    > The good news is that the rape rate has been on a downward trend!

    Hopefully that is because “yes” now is supposed to mean “yes,” now and forever after.

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