When we recently discussed a Brandeis University dean declaring “Yes, all White people are racists”, it was viewed as controversial but not “triggering” for students and faculty on the campus. What is triggering is apparently the word “trigger.” According to the Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center at Brandeis University, the word is “oppressive” and should not be uttered.
However, the inclusion of trigger is particularly interesting since it is widely used by woke academics who are now facing the realization that they have been engaging in oppressive rhetoric for years. It would be like “Jazz hands” (adopted after applause was denounced as triggering) being itself denounced as triggering for Blues aficionados.
The website explains that “The word ‘trigger’ has connections to guns for many people. We can give the same heads-up using language less connected to violence.” So the approved alternatives are now “content note” or “Drop-in.” The problem is that most of us have no idea how to grammatically use those terms in the same way. This just sounds odd: “Jane found the reference to genocide to be content note” or “John found the reference to be dropping in.”
Indeed, it is grammatically triggering for those of us who are already finding it difficult to abandon the language to prove virtue. As a general rule, a substitute for triggering should serve the same grammatical and definitional purpose.
After all, it was Louis Brandeis who declared “The logic of words should yield to the logic of realities.”