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The Week in Politics

TRIGGER WARNING!

Everything you need to know about last week’s politics for this week’s cocktail party.

clockwork orange trigger warning

To explain this week’s lesson on politics, we first need to address “trigger warnings.” This is when websites warn you that an article you’re about to click on might send you into trauma or a psychotic break because it reports on corn syrup. And maybe you just kicked the corn sugar habit and might fall off the wagon if you read it — or you might just go uncontrollably ballistic.

And now, Trigger Warnings are part of college classes. “Hey, we’re reading The Feminine Mystique this week, but if the concept of equal rights upsets you, it’s okay to sit this out and catch up on last season’s CSI: Kabul.”

This all started in 2012 with the best of intentions and probably stems from everyone’s basic desire to protect their many many friends who suffer from clustering allusions, hyperbolic discounting, illusory correlation or impact bias. But we got worried this week when Amazon put a Trigger Warning on some 70-year-old Tom & Jerry cartoons because an illustrated black maid (presumably human) is portrayed in a racist manner and an unidentified illustrated character smokes a cigarette.

Amazon put this warning on their streaming Tom & Jerry collection: “Tom and Jerry shorts may depict some ethnic and racial prejudices that were once commonplace in American society. Such depictions were wrong then and are wrong today.” Fair enough. We’re not contradicting that. It’s true. Parents should probably see a PG-13 rating on material like this in case they’re not ready to explain it, if they live in some America where racism doesn’t exist, or if they have no idea that any film made in the 1940s is likely to have Stepin Fetchit embarrassingly shuffle past the camera with a cigar.

But this is being echoed in colleges, where kids spend a lot of money to learn about the world around them. Including the ones who live in Texas or ended up playing for the Redskins.

Which brings us to this. This very short video is part of our history, too. Many have warned us that its ideas can poison your mind. But let’s see if we can learn something from it as we head into the midterm elections. Oh – Trigger Warning: It might upset you if you’re a Republican.

 

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