U.S. Uni Book Censorship

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Words and Image by Billie Jenkins

This week students at the University of California, Santa Barbara made a request for pieces of literature with potentially distressing themes or adult content to be given ‘trigger warnings’, so students can identify when themes may effect them emotionally. Research into the matter by the New York Times reveals this system has been the subject of discussion in several other American universities. I’m going to skip several expletives, some dramatic arm gestures and be blunt: Who are these people people opting into a literature degree with the expectation the spectrum of human experience it covers will never touch on their deeper scars? They are Idiots.

A literary degree is not one necessarily famed for it’s employability or instilling of technical skills. If you were shooting for technical you would have studied language. It does however offer a deep, bottomless pit of human emotion, human ideas, human experience, and sometimes idol nonsense. Is it really an appropriate perspective of someone exploring those roads to say “I’ll take all the grief, all the love, all the boredom, ambition, sexual deviancy, isolation and sense of duty… Oh Myrtle get hits by a car? That’s a bit gory, perhaps I’ll leave it.”? A suicidal thought, colonial violence, domestic abuse are all challenging concepts that will hit some home deeper than others, but what about loneliness, a life lived out unexceptionally through fear, the spiders in Harry Potter. Theres is no clear dividing line and readers are as diverse as the texts they circulate. It is important to remember a text is not solid truth, the mind that reads hangs a world over the structure the words build, and if that mind finds something that hurts at least they know they were not the first.

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