“If liberty means anything at all,” wrote George Orwell in the original preface to Animal Farm, “it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
Recently, the University of Northampton demonstrated where they stand on that matter, adding a trigger warning to another iconic Orwell book, 1984. Students are now warned that Orwell’s seminal critique of totalitarianism, censorship, and thought control might contain material some find “offensive and upsetting.”
You just can’t make this up.
For the record, strong evidence indicates that trigger warnings do not prevent feelings of trauma and can even have the opposite effect of heightening emotional vulnerability to potentially scary or offensive content.
On a much deeper level, we’re simply walking in the way Orwell warned against. It’s the dark side of an expressive individualism devoid of any deeper truth. Eventually, embracing an ideology that tells us to create our own realities will only lead us to cancel anyone who threatens them.
This Point was originally published on February 2, 2022.
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