Students in a Bible course at the University of Glasgow are being given trigger warnings before being shown images of the crucifixion — and permission to skip those lessons altogether if they are worried they’ll feel too uncomfortable. Predictably, much of the conversation surrounding this has been focused on the cultural implications of the policy, and how it contributes to creating a generation of weak little snowflakes. Of course, that discussion is relevant.
After all, giving young adults the idea that they deserve “trigger warnings” and protection from potentially traumatic material is ridiculous in a world where bad things are going to inevitably happen to them anyway. They are going to get dumped, their loved ones are going to die, and neither a partner who is done with them nor a metastasizing cancer is going to give a s*** how triggered they are before wreaking havoc on their lives. The crucifixion may be a traumatic Biblical event, but it is also arguably the most monumental one.
The crucifixion and corresponding resurrection of Jesus Christ are the entire foundation of the Christian religion, and yet somehow we have an institution willing to give students credit for a class about that religion’s holy book without them having to learn anything about the book’s most consequential event? I would have no problem with professors offering warnings before displaying graphic images — giving the squeamish ones time to cover their eyes — but giving students the opportunity to opt out of lessons entirely? Sorry, but . . .
nope. Giving a student who did not learn class material about the crucifixion credit for a Bible class is like giving a student who did not learn to do a cartwheel a spot on the gymnastics team, and Glasgow University should be ashamed of itself. If you really, truly, cannot stomach learning about the crucifixion, then that’s fine.
Same goes for any of the law students at Oxford who might find rape or violence law too triggering. (Oxford stupidly has a policy allowing those students to opt out of those lessons as well.) No one can or should be able to force you into learning about things that make you too uncomfortable, which is why, even before trigger warnings, there has always been a way to opt out of material that you don’t think you can handle .
. . it’s called do not take a class where material you cannot handle is a central focus of the curriculum.