In The Drum this week I looked at the movement in American higher education towards trigger warnings and safe spaces – apparently benign initiatives that are starting to morph into a distinctly illiberal and counterproductive ideology:
The entire higher education experience is being reconceptualised as a zone of post-trauma, in which students demand faculty protect them from the expression and thoughts of others.
Using the language of psychological harm, ideas are condemned, rather than rebutted. Students can receive “pain” from the decision of another person to write an email. It is wrong to “privilege” free speech, a mere “abstract right”, over personal emotional experience.
It’s hard to think of anything more contrary to the purpose of education – which is, in the broadest sense, the systematic exposure to ideas outside personal experience – than that.