“Everyday Feminism,” Trigger Warnings, And The Duty Not To Be Stupid

TRIGGER WARNING!!!

TRIGGER WARNING!!!

I have long posited the idea that we have a duty to be competent in the act of living, since incompetent members of society make the rest of us miserable. This means not rising beyond your own ability to be competent: an idiot who aspires to be Senator and who achieves his goal is not inspiring, but unethical.

Of course, people who don’t know they are stupid should be exempt from an unethical label: ironically, you can’t be an ethics dunce if you are truly a dunce. We also have a duty not to make our children, family members, friends, associates, fellow citizens and the culture dumber by reckless dissemination of idiocy.

Which brings us to this, from the earnest, apparently certifiably insane blog, Everyday Feminism. Trigger warnings, the recent progressive invention designed to shield overly sensitive members of our species from any idea, word, concept, thought, memory or theory that troubles them in any way lies right on the cusp of unethical, as it is at the threshold to censorship and thought control, as well as to stupidity itself. Everyday Feminism, however, charges over that line with hilarious excess. This could have easily been published by The Onion, but Everyday Feminism apparently means it.

The article was about triggering, so it had to have this warning:

This article discusses triggering in detail and mentions common topics of triggering (sexual assault, anxiety, health anxiety, depression, death, non-specific fears and phobias).

But the blog felt warning itself needed a trigger warning, and so it began with this:

Like this phenomenal article, Everyday Feminism definitely believes in giving people a heads up about material that might provoke our reader’s trauma. However, we use the phrase “content warning” instead of “trigger warning,” as the word “trigger” relies on and evokes violent weaponry imagery. This could be re-traumatizing for folks who have suffered military, police, and other forms of violence. So, while warnings are so necessary and the points in this article are right on, we strongly encourage the term “content warning” instead of “trigger warning.”

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TV Ethics, Viewed From A Sickbed

This isn’t how I look. This guy looks BETTER than I look…

[ As regular readers here might have guessed, I am ill, and have been since Thanksgiving. I can barely read, can’t really research, and whatever appears below was composed in 10 minute increments with hours or days in between. I’m hoping to be catching up very soon. Thank you for your patience]

What do you do when any movement or exertion makes you cough your guts out, when you can’t sleep but have to rest, when your brain is so blurry from viruses and medication that you can’t even compose a blog post for three days? (Sorry.) If you are me, and I hope for your sake that you aren’t, you watch TV.

I got one jolt of legal ethics horror that I hadn’t remembered re-watching Kevin Costner’s “The Untouchables,” directed by Brian DePalma. In the movie’s climax, Al Capone’s trial on income tax evasion has come to a crisis point, as Elliot Ness (Costner) realizes that the jury has been bribed to acquit him. Despite documentation of that fact, the corrupt judge tells Costner that the trial will proceed, whereupon Costner extorts him to prompt “a change of heart.” Now the judge shocks the courtroom by announcing that he is trading juries with another trial next door. The new, un-bribed twelve will decide Capone’s fate.

This is, of course, beyond ridiculous. Adversary attorneys must be able to choose a jury in voir dire, where each potential juror is questioned. Trading juries just invalidates two trials. Even if they could trade juries, which they couldn’t, the Capone trial would obviously have to start all over again since the new jury wouldn’t know what was going on.

None of this occurs to Al Capone’s panicky lawyer, however, who, realizing that the jig is up, announces that “we” are changing “our” plea to “guilty.” Chaos reigns. Capone (Robert DeNiro) punches his lawyer in the face, and I don’t blame him one bit.  A lawyer can’t plead guilty against the wishes of his client! The judge couldn’t accept such a plea, and Capone wouldn’t be bound by it. This would be an embarrassing distortion of the justice system in a Warner Brothers cartoon, but for a movie based on historical figures and events to sink so low is unforgivable. (“Carrie” aside, Brian DePalma was a hack.) Continue reading