“Oppressive” Word Alert: Brandeis University Warns That “Trigger Warnings” Can Be Triggering

It is now common for universities to list offensive terms to be avoided by faculty and students, as we have previously discussed at schools like Michigan, James Madison, and Berkeley.  Now, Brandeis has issued a list of “oppressive” words that include such expressions as “killing two birds with one stone” and “beating a dead horse.” However, the school did not issue a trigger warning because “trigger warning” is now on the list as . . . well . . . triggering.

We previously discussed Brandeis concern over “trigger warning” warnings and a dean’s controversial declaration that “Yes, all White people are racists.” However, the new list contains further examples of oppressive language and the suggested substitutes.  Some have balked at the suggested changes.

Notably, an Iowa State Professor recently countered those questioning the value of trigger warnings and insisted that they should in fact be expanded. Some have cited a Harvard study that undermined claims in support of trigger warnings.

In addition to “trigger warning,” other violent terminology is listed, including “killing it,” “whipped into shape,” and “take a shot at it.”

Rather than use expressions like “killing two birds with one stone,” the school’s Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center (PARC) suggests “feeding two birds with one seed.”

“Culturally appropriative” terms include any references to “tribe” to mean one’s group or identification.

Some of the substitutes seem pretty subtle. For example, the “person first/identity first list” includes terms like “homeless person.” However, the suggested alternative is “person without housing.”

Rather than saying “mentally ill person,” you are asked to say “Person living with a mental health condition.”

Rather than saying “prostitute,” you must say “Person who engages in sex work.”

Rather than saying “slave,” you must say “Person who is/was enslaved.”

For “Identity-based” terms, you are asked to say “bananas” rather than “wild” or “crazy.”

Moreover, referring to “people of color” is deemed oppressive if you are primarily referring to a particular group.

Expressions like “no can do” and “long time no see” are deemed oppressive.

PARC is promising a more expansive list in the future.

44 thoughts on ““Oppressive” Word Alert: Brandeis University Warns That “Trigger Warnings” Can Be Triggering”

  1. “‘Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.’” 1984 George Orwell

    Newspeak: is a controlled language of simplified grammar and restricted vocabulary designed to limit the individual’s ability to think and articulate “subversive” concepts such as personal identity, self-expression and free will. Such concepts are criminalized as thoughtcrime since they contradict the prevailing Ingsoc orthodoxy

  2. The ultra intelligent people who take the time to think this stuff up are banana bat defecation people living with a mental health condition. Just pointing out people living with a mental woke condition. A man once told me that some people are so much smarter than us that we must let them be the leaders. This aged man grew up in Germany.

  3. Don’t get me going on the words that are used on a daily basis that certainly trigger me. Maybe I’ll start telling people not to use them, starting with “woke”. Brandeis triggers me. They were one of the first schools I remember utilizing cancel culture when they did not allow a group to have Ayaan Hirsi Ali speak on campus. Her topic of how women are treated in other countries was too controversial for the young ladies of Brandeis to hear.

    1. The state of Virginia has just mandated that teachers can NOT teach 9/11 history anymore if they say it was a Muslim terrorist attack…well I guess all those planes just flew themselves…the Taliban is alive and well here today…no reason to invade us…we will just self-destruct…the fuse has already been lit!

  4. When the people who belong to the movement currently destroying our society and our nation go after each other, we should stand back and let them. Perhaps we can occasionally throw out there that trigger warnings about the triggering nature of trigger warnings can create psychological anxiety in BIPOC and LGBTQ, or similar, at intervals.

    1. We should. They are like people fighting over something that has all of the import of a dream they had while asleep last night. After so much bull****, it’s almost more fascinating than grating to just witness the mental instability, and it is very apparent and on full display. It’s almost like a miracle that anyone on earth in this modern age could be so self-deluded, and the media are a close second in that mix. Dang. There aren’t any differently abled people in my family, but if there were, I would offer them up as the perfect metaphor for the 21st century Democratic Party and their host of toadies. Good thing they don’t control half of what their arrogance has mentally granted them.

  5. Jonathan: As a guy with long teeth I never heard about “trigger warnings” when I was in college. They didn’t exist. If you were offended or caused anxiety by something the professor said you had a choice. Get up and leave or endure so you could get a passing grade. My, how things have changed. I suppose “trigger warnings” are necessary these days–in this, as you call it, an age of “rage”. Critics like you seem to think “trigger warnings” are indicative of excessive political correctness, threats to “free speech” or unnecessary coddling of overly sensitive sensitive students. What I do know is that “trigger warnings” are all over the place–not just on university campuses. Have you watched a Netflix or Hulu movie lately with sexual or violent content? The first thing you see is: “The following is intended only for mature audiences. Viewer discretion advised”. I watched the movie anyway. Didn’t cause me any anxiety. By focusing. on “trigger warnings” at Brandeis you apparently hope we will ignore the more serious threats to free speech all around us.

    Take for example what happened during the four years of the Trump administration in suppressing free speech and imposing censorship on government agencies. Trump banned the CRC from using 7 words in official documents: “diversity”, “entitlement”, “evidence-based”, “fetus”, “science-based”, “transgender” and “vulnerable”. Sounds like something out of one of George Carlin’s routines! Trump did other similar things. He used executive privilege to prevent administration officials from testifying before Congress. He doctored official Weather Service maps. The list is too long to recount here. Hardly a peep out of you about this censorship. Right now in Republican-Trump supporting states legislators are trying to prohibit the teaching of anything relating to the racist history of this country. They say they are trying to spare the sensitive ears of children so they won’t feel “guilt” or feel “traumatized”. So the “free speech” rights of teachers must be curtailed. This would seem counter-intuitive because in polls students indicate they are quite open to learning about how racism has shaped so much in our history. They know there is more to our history than what is portrayed in the traditional white ethno-centric textbooks they are still given. Again, no word of protest from you.

    Now if you want to learn about the Nazi Holocaust you have to see the Army films taken of the liberated concentration camps where millions died. The corpses piled on top of each other. The crematoria and the cameras showing countless half-starved prisoners with blank stares. These are horrifying and disturbing images. But students (at least in high school) should see them so they will understand how this kind of mass murder must be prevented from ever happening again. The same goes with the teaching of racism in public schools. You don’t “protect” children by pretending racism ended with the passage of the civil rights legislation in the 1960s. They need the truth. I have 3 young granddaughters and I can attest to their willingness to hear the whole story about the history of this country–not just the sanitized version white politicians want children to be taught. By ignoring what is going on around the country to stifle free speech in the public schools you are doing a disservice to the students of this country.

    1. Here is the report by NPR on word banning by the Trump administration. Conveniently NPR left the conclusion for the very last paragraph. It reads as follows. “It is unclear whether the directive came from Trump administration officials or from career staff self-censoring to avoid falling into political traps. Career staff at government agencies often modify language to stop their work from being politicized”. Of course Denis McIntyre never reads past paragraph three once his itching ears have been satisfied. https://www.npr.org/2017/12/16/571329234/trump-administration-reportedly-instructs-cdc-on-its-own-version-of-7-dirty-word. It could possibly be unintentional dishonesty fomented by his addiction to CNN.

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  6. Anyone that gets ” triggered ” by a ” microaggression ” and needs a ” safe space ” should immediately seek professional psychiatric help.
    My son graduated from college with honors.
    Has his Master’s degree. Has always been gainfully employed. But one of my proudest moments was when he played Little League baseball.
    His team finished 6th out of 8 teams in the league. At the year end banquet they were handing out ” participation trophies”
    He refused his. Said I will accept a trophy when I am worthy of one. His team won the league the next year.
    He accepted his Championship Trophy.

    1. Wonderful story! It makes me wonder how Jeff or his mom would approach the same thing.You son is a winner.

  7. We may laugh or frown at this BS, but the BS-ers make money off such BS, get employed by universities to teach or enforce it, write books or get paid to lecture on various platforms on BS. BS is a major money making and power wielding industry in America.

  8. Wielding a double-edged scalpel, they believe they can abort the baby, cannibalize her profitable parts, sequester her carbon pollutants, and have her. too.

  9. Who on earth has never had any trauma in their life? The problem comes when you can’t deal with your trauma, so you coerce those around you to alter their behavior — walk on eggs — to make up for your emotional and intellectual failings. We used to advise such people to see a professional they can speak to. Now, the entire world must compensate for the “emotionally challenged” privileged college student. Meanwhile, do they realize how offensive their own behavior is? Their trashing of free speech — one of the few things this country had going for it — is reprehensible. College administrations, the whores of academia, play along to keep the funds coming in, thus giving these intellectually impotent students the mistaken impression that this is the real world. It’s not, and they’re in for a rude awakening when they finally leave the academic cocoon (which they all will, because grades don’t matter anymore).

    1. I would like nothing better than to believe they are in for a rude awakening, but look at the CEO’s and their capitulation to these people. When a hardware store (Lowes) joins the 21 Day Racial Equality Challenge (if you are unfamiliar with the challenges I encourage you to look them up), it looks more like companies are creating an employment cocoon for these graduates. Fifteen years ago I predicted there would be less accountability for attacking our police and not respecting the position based on my experience with the powers that dictated how student discipline was handled.

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