Re: Guest Post - trigger warning

1

Choire Sicha is kind of triggering for me. Thanks a lot, K-sky.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:02 AM
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As a not-particularly-traumatized person, this seems like one of those fights I should stay out of. My aesthetic sense of the term doesn't really seem relevant.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:03 AM
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Oh hm but he indeed gets it exactly right.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:11 AM
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I think putting a trigger warning labelled as such on most troublesome material is not the best way to go. If there's particularly disturbing material in a piece, just say that: This piece contains graphic descriptions of things that may be upsetting to some readers. Boom! done. It covers triggers and also the more generally squeamish.

Also it's bloody impossible to cover all triggers for all people. I know someone who is triggered by anything to do with Halloween. She literally hides from it as much as she can during the season. Being exposed to the symbols associated with it will send her into a mild panic attack unless she's prepared beforehand.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:13 AM
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The trouble is that pernicious trigger warning creep is a real thing and not just a hypothetical boogey man. I think it reached its nadir a few years ago when a commenter at Feministe argued - in all seriousness - that a photograph of a minor member of the British royal family wearing a silly hat should have had a trigger warning on it.

Also, there can be a slippage from trigger warnings to content policing. Oberlin College recently announced a policy "encouraging" faculty to remove triggering material (no definition given or specification of who decides what counts) from their syllabi.

I'm all for professors on their own account having content notes about material dealing with disturbing subjects, but keep the administration out of it, and that includes official "encouraging". If there were an epidemic of professors suddenly springing required screenings of The Accused on their classes I might reconsider.

In the original article that sparked this discussion, a student apparently thought that The Great Gatsby should come with a trigger warning.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:20 AM
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Trigger warnings make a lot of sense in a particular environment where (1) you are trying to create a safe space for survivors of a particular kind of trauma and (2) you also want to discuss that type of trauma from time to time in the kind of detail that would create difficulties for some survivors. So if you have a feminist blog that wants to talk about domestic violence sometimes, but also wants to invite participation by people who can't or don't want to read detailed posts about domestic violence, then -- yeah, why wouldn't you use trigger warnings? Who would complain about that?

The complaints about the concept spreading to other places, or being applied to people who don't want to use trigger warnings, seem valid in principle. An aggressive interpretation of the trigger-warning model, applied in some (socially or legally) enforceable way, could have a chilling effect on speech that shouldn't be chilled. Free inquiry in college classes is valuable. Though, for the reasons suggested in the OP I might be inclined in any specific case to wonder whether the people complaining are exaggerating the situation. I certainly wondered that when I read the linked article.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:21 AM
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This strikes me as a practice of setting up new taboos. It starts with trigger warnings, and then content policing, and then you stop talking about stuff in polite company, and then right wingers start talking about those things in the rudest of terms as a means of pissing off politically correct liberals.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:31 AM
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Can't we just make it a "suck it up" warning, so you accomplish the warning, minus the pussification? About which, as an old timer, I feel like I should say here's the original.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:32 AM
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I think it's hard to go wrong in general with the advice "don't be an asshole", but it isn't always clear what sort of behavior counts as assholish with whom. Which is the problem or … not directly the problem but kind of a second-order problem, and leads to things like conservatively putting up trigger warnings and not owning separate dishes for meat and dairy.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:38 AM
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Because I'm terrible every time I read it I think "tigger warning!" and imagine an adorable stuffed tiger about to mess with Eeyore's day.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:52 AM
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I think I'm at the same place as widget. If I see them on Border House post about awful stuff in video games or a Skepchick post about eating disorders, they make perfect sense, can easily be ignored by me, and I don't find them infantilizing.

An implication is that most other places of intellectual discussion are not, and perhaps should not be, safe spaces. That goes against what I think has been the general trend of universities over the past few decades. The phrase "safe space" might be doing a lot of work, though.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:53 AM
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I'm not sure how much of a problem this is. On blogs where trigger warnings are common, there was at least initially an understanding that discussing emotionally charged material (usually sexual assault, eating disorders, or stillbirth) could really mess with someone's head, and the warning was just a heads-up before proceeding with a frank and uncensored discussion so one could opt-out.

I can't see how the concept would apply to a college classroom without infringing academic freedom, because the point of the warning isn't just to say parental-advisory-explicit-lyrics, but to allow participants to refuse to participate. So a trigger warning on The Great Gatsby should be followed with an alternate assignment.

Here, I'm required to have on my syllabus a disclaimer that what I teach may conflict with a student's core beliefs, and that students are permitted to request an accommodation, but also that I am permitted to refuse the accommodation. In practice, it hasn't been a problem, but it could be.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:55 AM
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God likes me. Really likes me. An opening for my movie review, which might have required trigger warnings. Which I will probably do a little later. Let the thread play.

I am pretty open to trigger warnings and content policing, but view it as more a political issue than moral. I myself get shivers and tremors at depictions of heights and edges.

By analogy, when does a white guy get to use the "n-word?" Never? Who gets to decide who gets to say N***, when, where? I used it the other day without complaint at CT:Woman is the n*** of the world. There are reasons that passed, as an allusion and quotation for instance. "White n**" probably less acceptable in contemporary company.

I might ask exactly what triggers (v), if there are guidelines. Does the simple use of the word "r***" trigger? Usually I sense it is some kind of explicit depiction or representation that triggers. Pictures only, or text also? There could be "objective" discussions that would feel oppressive and triggering.

I don't really want to be asshole, but do enjoy "edgy" or "challenging" in my own consumption, though not painful, and so maybe push others.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:55 AM
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I think 4 is pretty much right.

Content advisories are a pretty minor burden on publishers, especially online - they don't take up much space, and it's actually helpful as a reader to have some clear indication of what I'm about to read, even if I'm not triggered by any of it.

I understand where the name came from, but I think it's a terrible idea to keep calling them trigger warnings for a few reasons:

1) It has a strong negative connotation that makes some writers feel like they're being scolded for talking about taboo topics, instead of being asked to warn a small subset of readers who will be harmed by this material through no fault of the author's but only an accident of circumstance.
2) It sets up a false expectation that it's possible to warn for every plausible trigger. It's not.
3) It should be okay to ask for a content warning if it really hurts you to read about something by surprise, even if you're not technically triggered by it. This shouldn't win you status points at the expense of the author or publisher either - it's just a reasonable request that a reasonable person who doesn't want to hurt their readers, even by accident, should be able to accommodate.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:56 AM
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The parable of the salmon helped me figure out why it was okay not to be an asshole about people who are more generically "offended" by something I'd like to talk about:

Imagine that one night, an alien prankster secretly implants electrodes into the brains of an entire country - let's say Britain. The next day, everyone in Britain discovers that pictures of salmon suddenly give them jolts of painful psychic distress. Every time they see a picture of a salmon, or they hear about someone photographing a salmon, or they even contemplate taking such a picture themselves, they get a feeling of wrongness that ruins their entire day.
I think most decent people would be willing to go to some trouble to avoid taking pictures of salmon if British people politely asked this favor of them. If someone deliberately took lots of salmon photos and waved them in the Brits' faces, I think it would be fair to say ey isn't a nice person. And if the British government banned salmon photography, and refused to allow salmon pictures into the country, well, maybe not everyone would agree but I think most people would at least be able to understand and sympathize with the reasons for such a law.

Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:01 AM
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commenter at Feministe argued - in all seriousness - that a photograph of a minor member of the British royal family wearing a silly hat should have had a trigger warning on it.

Details!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:04 AM
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11 and 12.1 are close to where I'm at. Maybe.

"You should," Haneke states in a manner reminiscent of Adorno, "always rebel against what's wrong. You can rebel against that in a film by showing it. But by showing it in a way that gives you a desire for an alternative, not in a way that makes it consumable." (Toubiana and Haneke, 2007)


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:04 AM
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I am really dissociated from how left-wing people talk these days. The only time I've heard "trigger warning" said out loud was two months ago.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:07 AM
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Details!

The thread is over 200 comments long. Enter if you dare.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:10 AM
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I will admit, I was a little bothered by them when I first saw them. I think that's 80% privilege and 20% seeing them as a "I'm-more-liberal-than-thou" signal. But I got better.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:13 AM
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19: Wow. First, what a hat. Second, I did a search for "trig" and only two posts thought that was an appropriate use of the word "trigger," and the second of those was walked back. There was agreement that expanding the meaning of the word greatly defeats its utility and is harmful.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:17 AM
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Christ, reading even the first 20 comments of that thread aged me.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:19 AM
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17.2 cont.

I would contend that our intended audience for depictions of r*** and its culture is men. Women don't need it. Not depicting, ignoring it, will absolutely not make it go away. The Pov of these depictions should not necessarily be, or only be, women's but also men's. As Haneke says, what you should show is the thing itself, and a more desirable (for men, not only women) alternative.

The "consumable" aspect is really really tough, as seen from the reactions to Haneke's Funny Games. There are parts of us all that enjoy others' suffering, not in a sadistic way, but as eliciting protective power fantasies. "Lassie Come Home" oh noes a thunderstorm too?

HC Andersen's "Little Match Girl" is the stereotypical moe character.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:23 AM
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@21 That's why the re-emergence of this issue surprised me a bit. I thought that this was hashed out years ago and it was agreed that trigger warnings should stay close to their original intended use (warning of impending discussion of sexual assault or other subjects known to severely impact a large number of people).


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:23 AM
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Guy comes across Job mourning in the desert.

Pity: You poor guy, how can I help?
Empathy: Silently rends garments, tears out hair, covers self with ashes, sits besides

Can you understand Oedipus without blinding yourself?

Maybe that's the terror part of "terror and pity," the distance from the victim.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:31 AM
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HC Andersen's "Little Match Girl" is the stereotypical moe character.

Different haircut, presumably.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:38 AM
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"Trigger warning" is the new "phrasing" And we are all the poorer for it.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:41 AM
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This reminded me of Yakov Smirnoff's praise for that great American invention -- warning shots. I suppose trigger warnings mark a further advance in civilization.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:51 AM
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29

In Soviet Russia, warning triggers you!


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:53 AM
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Comment 4 also sounds right to me: literal 'triggers' tend to be idiosyncratic, so warnings for disturbing subject matter are, while not a bad idea, not going to in any way cover the space of available triggers.

On the worry that it's all going to lead to censorship: probably people are going to misuse the concept in places where it's inappropriate (like college classes that necessarily involve disturbing materials). At which point there should be pushback in those specific instances. Other than that, people worrying that they're being oppressed by trigger warnings should probably put a sock in it until they actually have a concrete injury to complain of.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:53 AM
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I don't have a problem with some kind of "warning" if you're about to depict/discuss something graphic or sensitive or disturbing. It's the "trigger" that I find bothersome, perhaps even cringe-inducing. It suggests that readers are not in control of themselves; that they are unable to apply their own filters; that they cannot distinguish between, on the one hand, something awful that happened in the real world and, on the other hand, a discussion of something awful on the internet.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:54 AM
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15: I think it would be fair to say ey isn't a nice person

Ey bah gum, 'e's a bad 'un, 'e is!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:59 AM
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31: I think the idea is that there are some traumatized people -- people who literally suffer from PTSD or some related problem -- for which exposure to whatever their triggers are is something they can't easily filter out, and I don't find that implausible or infantilizing. I just don't think there's much that can effectively be done about it on a non-individualized basis.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:59 AM
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28 is, I believe, literally the only example of a non-ironic, approving assessment of Yakov Smirnoff that dates from the last 20 years. At least outside of Branson, MO.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:00 AM
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34 is a grotesque misreading.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:03 AM
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28 is, I believe, literally the only example of a non-ironic, approving assessment of Yakov Smirnoff that dates from the last 20 years.

Surprisingly, google N-grams shows that the frequency with which he is mentioned has stayed consistent through the 2000s. I don't know how many of those mentions are positive, however.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:05 AM
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18: I am really dissociated from how left-wing people talk these days

Could I only say as much!

I have one friend who is allegedly triggered by clowns because her grandmother was always warning her that clowns would molest her. Never actually got molested by a clown though.

I also have a friend who claims to have many, many triggers, with some justification, as she has actually suffered physical and sexual abuse in the past, but who, apropos of nothing, posted a picture on FB of herself weeping over the (graphically obvious) corpse of her friend's fetus, which had been carried to term despite being brain dead due to fucked up abortion laws. The hell?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:05 AM
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Sorry, 32 should have come with a trigger warning about obscure '80s British cartoon references. I beg your forgiveness.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:07 AM
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Depictions of the British lower-class as being consonant-deprived are almost as triggering as pictures of the British upper-class being illegitimately be-hatted.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:12 AM
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That's why the British upper classes should only allow themselves to be photographed in Bodmin's hats.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:15 AM
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Can you understand Oedipus without blinding yourself?

Can I get a look at his mother first?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:26 AM
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This is lame because you are all too reasonable. Where is some circa 2006 person to come by and argue for the trigger warnings and call the trigger warning opponents insensitive monsters? IAlternately, someone could have gone way too strong from the other side. Personally, I was thinking about trolling for the "pussification of America" side but to do it well here it has to be done just right. I don't have the energy to draft my pro-feminist, left-tendency version of the pussification of America manifesto.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 11:52 AM
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Where is some circa 2006 person to come by and argue for the trigger warnings and call the trigger warning opponents insensitive monsters? IAlternately, someone could have gone way too strong from the other side.

First we need to decide: are trigger warnings part of post-enlightenment bourgeoisie Western liberalism, and therefore to be deplored by all true revolutionaries, or is it opposition to trigger warnings that supports post-enlightenment bourgeoisie Western liberalism, and therefore true revolutionaries should favor them?

Bob?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:02 PM
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about to mess with Eeyore's day.

Watch it, bub.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:10 PM
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Where is some circa 2006 person to come by and argue for the trigger warnings and call the trigger warning opponents insensitive monsters?

Lately I have been studiedly trying to acknowledge, if not respect or endorse, the exercise by weak and vulnerable people of the few available weapons (i.e., shame, embarrassment, fear of a scene) against their massed adversaries (imagined or actual): e.g., when somebody whips a hot pot of dudgeon over white belly dancers.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:16 PM
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My favorite professor ever (who was more of a friend than my actual professor but I did take his Freud class) was this genius who could quote you psychoanalytic everything practically with page numbers but his guiding principle, he told me once at Show Tune Monday at Sidetrack, was "don't be an asshole." It's surprisingly hard! But he was absolutely never an asshole.

(Taking this a maudlin LJ place, I had this weird cognitive dissonance when he died because, though I saw him maybe twice a year, I had it in my mind that if I needed an answer to something that I could just trust and ask no more questions about, that was him, and so it didn't really compute that he was gone. Who was I to ask? Здесь нет тебя - и нет тебя. RIP Bert. Sadness.)


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:19 PM
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((((infinitely parenthetical I don't know why I put the Russian in there except Russians are good at sadness and I was already being self-indulgent with the whole story. It's from a sad Tsvetaeva poem.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:28 PM
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45: I read the original piece and now the follow up, and I'm still not sold. Appropriation may be fraught, but unless it's done with an edge of contempt I'm basically not buying the outrage.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:28 PM
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5
I stopped reading Feministe when a poster seriously argued that a treatment to fix serious heart defects in fetuses was a form of "genocide against disabled people."

On trigger warnings, I also tend towards feeling like I don't have a dog in the fight so I stay out of it. Trigger warning creep is eye-roll inducing, but I'm not sure fighting it is worth it. I can see how there is a particular place for them (certain websites, certain topics), and if a person is being constantly triggered outside of those places it they probably need to adjust their meds or figure out a better coping strategies with their therapist.

There's a reasonable amount of accommodation people should make to not be assholes. There's also an amount of accommodation one can request that makes one an asshole. Where the line is is kind of fuzzy. Peanut allergies seem similar to me. There was a slate article by a parent asking that no one consume peanut products on outdoor playgrounds. This seems going too far. Peanut free schools? Maybe not, depending on the # of allergic kids.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:35 PM
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48: I don't find the argument very moving, either, but the writer seems sincerely upset, behind the links-to-this-and-jargon-about-that-and-hip-modern-feminist-who-can-talk-to-young-people-the-other. I suppose she had to plant her flag somewhere.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:35 PM
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43:PEBWL, like capitalism is by no means all bad. The point of a critique is to show how the positive and negative aspects create and are contingently interconnected with each other in a dialectical relationship. The lesson against reformism is that we are very unlikely to remove the bad parts of PEBWL/capitalism while retaining the good, or will create new negatives to replace the old, and should thereby be seeking systemic and irrevocable social revolution.

The focus on the inner self and feelings is likely a manifestation of neoliberalism.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:38 PM
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I suppose it's the cheerful and clueless appropriation that can be annoying. There's some 'stuff white people like' going on.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:38 PM
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I read the original and found her argument idiotic. But then I realized we appropriated her culture's numerals too when we had perfectly functioning Roman ones. So, you know, oppression.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:39 PM
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52: Absolutely. Clueless appropriation is annoying in a lot of cases, but I don't think it's necessarily harmful.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:44 PM
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PEWBL who need PEWBL are the TWYRCLiest people of all.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:50 PM
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Limbs not Legs, Gentlemen and keep your tables covered.

42: I really dislike the word "feminization" which is essentialist and self-defeating, but we should recognize that most of the discussion on "triggering" and the "need to protect the sensitive" is, with exceptions, heavily gendered.

I couldn't make much sense of the long thread about the hat.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:51 PM
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Fuck. PEBWL.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:51 PM
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55: I would have gone with "If you'd like to know more, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to PEWBL, Colorado...," but that's a deep cut.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:52 PM
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I don't think learning a dance form from another culture is appropriation (maybe performing under an "Arab" name) , but it seems even more of a stretch in this case. Belly dancing isn't an art with a large technical vocabulary, and it's performed in many distinct Mediterranean and Arab cultures with variations -- what's new is that there's now also an American take on it.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:53 PM
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I can't stand almost all forms of ethnic dance, so I was happy for any argument that might decrease it by any amount.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:55 PM
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I guess, there's appreciating/participating in another culture and then there's minstrelsy/blackface. I don't know anyone who bellydances, but if what she's talking about is some kind of bullshit mockery of Egyptian dance, I could see reasonably finding it offensive. But I think I'd have to look at a specific instantiation of white people bellydancing, and have an offended Egyptian explain what the specific problem was with it, to know how I felt.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:56 PM
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I think it's good that there are communities with the "trigger warning" convention, and I think it's good for me to be aware of the concept since there are contexts where one should avoid common triggers. That said, "trigger warning" are a clear indication that a community isn't going to be one I'm going to be hanging out a lot in.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 12:57 PM
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I've done it and performed a little noob dance at the noob recital. There wasn't any minstrelsy or blackface (I wore makeup, but it was just basic stage makeup, which is pretty heavy but I wasn't trying to look Arab or anything) -- and the costuming is not mimicking traditional culture but... well, traditional nightclubs in the early 1900s.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:00 PM
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I wonder what Ogged will think but I've been told that I do a mean "Baba Karam."


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:04 PM
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(From the original article on belly dancing) Instead, I point out that all this means is that it is perfectly all right with these teachers [of Arab descent] that their financial well-being is based on self-exploitation.

...really? That sounds remarkably unfair to the people who are probably doing the most to reduce the ministrely-ness of the art.

I'm confused as to whether the issue is that white women are doing it in a way that's not respectful of the cultural and historical context (fair enough, in some or most cases) or that they're doing it at all.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:04 PM
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65 before reading 61.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:05 PM
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65: I read the pieces as trending strongly towards "at all."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:05 PM
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I can't stand almost all forms of ethnic dance

"[If you'd been born in America] you wouldn't have an accent."
"Well, I'd have an American accent."
"That's not an accent."

-Family Tree


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:06 PM
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I volunteer to be that person from 2006. What the fuck, to those of you who object specifically to the word 'trigger'? (Are you also pro-civil union but anti-gay-marriage, speaking of shit from 2006?) The "false expectations" thing is 100% bullshit and you know it. P.S., why do you hate Blume?


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:07 PM
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Heh. The only thing that got that "almost" in there is that I figured I must be blind to whatever form of ethnic dance I do.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:10 PM
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I think I'm in favor of gay unions. Solidarity with style!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:11 PM
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whatever form of ethnic dance I do


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:14 PM
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Belly dancing isn't an art with a large technical vocabulary

I did not know this. I had some impression that the hand movements in particular were pretty meaningful, and also that various forms and styles were for particular purposes. Like so


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:15 PM
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I read it that she was upset that certain white women were using her art form as an exercise/ weight loss regimen.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:15 PM
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but the writer seems sincerely upset

I didn't get that sense from the piece. It struck me more as deliberate trolling by someone who is well aware of the anxious-to-be-the-perfectly-behaved-liberal demographic that makes up a substantial portion of Salon's readership.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:16 PM
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LB is right in 61, though, unsurprisingly.

I think I'd have to look at a specific instantiation of white people bellydancing, and have an offended Egyptian explain what the specific problem was with it, to know how I felt.

I have seen white people bellydancing, in bars or clubs as part of the evening's musical/dance performance, and they're having a great time, but it often does look like a form of pole-dancing, for newbs who were just looking for some form of exercise that would make them feel hot. That's the impression one gets.

I'm sure there are any number of other white people belly dancing instantiations in which it doesn't come across that way.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:23 PM
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for newbs who were just looking for some form of exercise that would make them feel hot

You say that like it's a bad thing.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:30 PM
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72: roughly, yeah.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:33 PM
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Sweet Christ, that belly-dancing piece reminded me of the discussion on a local radio show about white people making Thai food (specifically in restaurants), and one of the (white) commenters calling it cultural imperialism.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:36 PM
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Actually, now that I think about it, the word used was "colonialism", but equally stupid.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 1:50 PM
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I wish there had been a trigger warning re the neon Dolores crocs worn by one of the musicians for the Sunday morning belly dancing class at the studio. I was just innocently dropping the child off for rehearsal, walking down the corridor to check on his costume alterations, and BAM! eyeful of hideous footwear. But the music was pretty good!

The author of that article should be trigger warned against pretty much all 19th c. story ballets, the overwhelming majority of which go like this:

Act One: joyful peasants dance for the aristocracy

Act Two: oh look! It's a parade of gross national stereotypes! And sure enough, there are the gals from Exoticastan!

Act Three: let's have a wedding!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 2:29 PM
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Neon colored


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 2:30 PM
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81: Holy crap, that is the story of all the ballets I saw last season.*

* I attend the ballet now, people. Someone freshen up my cigarette holder, won't you? Have the boy lay out my formal monocle.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 3:41 PM
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75: I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt. There is a thick crust of Salon-writer attitudinal posturing nonsense, inevitably. Christ, Salon is wretched.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 3:45 PM
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The red couch that brings back the uncle...is not the discussion.

The discussion, interestingly, goes like this:

"This discussion/depiction makes me uncomfortable (whatever.)"
"We're sorry for your pain"
"Could you add a trigger warning?"
"Umm, you have been here and know not to come back..."
"But I'm sure other women..."

The personal becomes the political when the individual attempts to become a particular (an example, a type) while retaining singularity and establish a rule by using the personal experience as a synecdoche.

Same thing when a group claims authority.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 4:12 PM
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83: Wait, you only have a formal monocle now? I've been envisioning a monocled Flippanter for years. Or is 83 just a request that it be laid out?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 4:28 PM
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Or a mirrored aviator monocle, if you want more of a contemporary hipster look.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 4:30 PM
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The step from (Bob) to (man, old, Texan, bearded, anime fan, Eric Rohmer fan) is the step that creates an other and an imaginary community that I can claim is real. There are other Rohmer fans, let me show you them. Do I have contact with them, are they my community? Well, they could be, I can imagine them sitting beside me and agreeing with my every word. We are singularities wanting to be particulars, and we become particulars by objectifying imaginary others. "They are my kind." Or not.

The otaku, understanding (in some sense) the postmodern breakdown of social reality, consciously performs an imaginary self in an imaginary community attaching ironically to imaginary objects. And thus is realer than the rest of us.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 4:34 PM
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I love Autumn Tale, isn't it a delicious movie?


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 4:42 PM
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When I think bob mcmanus, I think Le genou de Claire.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 4:45 PM
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Formal monocle.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 6:28 PM
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||

Monocles a close enough fit: I just picked up new glasses this evening. From C/stco, ridiculous low price.

Horn rims, very 60s; I've been regaling my son with remembered dialogue from The Ipcress File

|>


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 7:46 PM
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33 31: I think the idea is that there are some traumatized people -- people who literally suffer from PTSD or some related problem -- for which exposure to whatever their triggers are is something they can't easily filter out, and I don't find that implausible or infantilizing.

So I've been wondering about this since the first time I encountered the phrase "trigger warning" and always felt like it would be mildly assholish to ask, but I'll go ahead and ask anyway: what exactly is it that is triggered, and how strong is the empirical case that these warnings prevent it? Given the propagation of the phrase to include anything that will make people upset or disturbed, I think it's original meaning must have been more like what you're saying. But is it a panic or anxiety attack? Something with really obvious physiological correlates? And is it established that these are likely to occur just from reading a reference to something that traumatized someone in the past, but not from reading a warning that it's going to be referenced?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 8:17 PM
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I guess what surprises me is that if PTSD carries such a strong risk of some kind of anxiety attack, moving one step up the meta chain from "mentioning something that you find traumatizing" to "mentioning that I am mentioning something that you find traumatizing" seems to me like it would still bring up the same association and not obviously reduce the risk of attack.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 8:19 PM
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its not it's


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 8:22 PM
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93: Personal anecdotes, though I also have larger thoughts. I was 17 when I was raped by a fellow freshman (while having a panic attack, in fact) and subsequently had what can best be described as a nervous breakdown, spent the next year a total mess and (like many recent sexual assault survivors) got into situations where I wasn't really consenting but was more afraid to say no and have it mean nothing again than to go along with it and get things over with, all of which also contributed to my unhealthy mental state. That's where the whole abusive relationship comes into play, both because I was so depressed I thought no one worthwhile would ever find me lovable anyway and because I didn't have the energy to get out of it until it was way too late.

A few days ago when talking about the movie Dirty Pretty Things, I said that when I saw it at 22, just after leaving that relationship, I was viscerally upset (queasy, shaky) during some scenes where I sort of elided the details in that comment but it was forced fellatio. A few years prior to that, I'd been walking to campus when what seemed like the entire football fraternity came out of the house in their matching DE/LTS IN YOUR MOUTH NOT IN YOUR HAND shirts, the context of which seemed to me to imply the same sort of thing, though their spokesperson eventually argued that no no, it was just a joke and they would never condone, etc. That time, it felt like an electric wave of some sort moved through me slowly from my head down, leaving me feeling stunned and sick, on the verge of terrified tears. I stumbled to the class where I had to give a presentation in a foreign language I knew pretty well at the time, which I bungled completely because I couldn't get my thoughts together, but it didn't feel like there was any way I at that time could have said to the teacher that I was too unnerved by a bunch of guys in t-shirts to give my presentation even if there had been a caveat about trigger warnings on the syllabus.

(And these aren't necessarily good anecdotes about PTSD. Why did it take me so long to confide in my advisor that my ex had destroyed and/or hidden all my thesis research and that was why I wasn't making any progress? Because I was ashamed, the same way I was ashamed that I'd been in an abusive situation to begin with, the same way I didn't tell the professor that I couldn't write about the Raymond Carver story assigned because every time I put my hands on the keyboard to try to say something about the relationship depicted I just sobbed and knew I needed to leave and to be honest but felt I couldn't. Obviously there's a perfectly good way to tell the story where I am the problem or the source of my problems, not the "triggers" themselves.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:01 PM
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I do think it's important for people with PTSD to be mindful of their personal triggers or at least to figure out what they are to be able to figure out how to deal with them as part of the healing process. I really liked what I've read so far of this NYT article about a trauma-informed Head Start program and the success preschoolers are having learning to regulate their emotions, but for all the reasons stated above don't think that trigger warnings as casually used are all that helpful.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:03 PM
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I also think community standards within a given place are a good idea. I mean, we know not to click on apo's links at work, an that's a very important life lesson. I'm in a private discussion group for foster parents where you do sometimes need to be able to talk about things that are potentially upsetting because there are a lot of potentially upsetting things to talk about, but we drew the line at posting images of physical abuse or posting every new article about a shaken baby (though a facebook friend of mine with no foster/adoption connection at all does this) or whatever other horror-of-the-week is pertinent to the general topic, maybe, but not specifically to us. There are still people who have hot buttons and some of them you can anticipate and others people have to either let the rest of us know or take a step back for a while. Setting community standards and expectations is part of creating a community, and I think it makes more sense (to a point) to have this happen within the community rather than have larger internet-wide expectations.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:10 PM
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One last comment before way-too-late bedtime, which is not particularly related to my prior ones. Can we really have gotten almost to Kobe without talking about Upworthy as sort of another side of this? You'll never believe what happens next, which is sort of the opposite of a spoiler alert and a trigger warning, since heartwarming something ensues. I wouldn't know because I hate videos and everything else that is wonderful and joyful, but it sort of seems like there should be a connection there.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:29 PM
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we know not to click on apo's links at work, an that's a very important life lesson.

Trigger warnings: goatse, tubgirl, latest results for Google Alert on keyword "penis".


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:42 PM
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Upworthy style: "Watch this dog eat marijuana plants. You'll never guess what it craps next."


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 9:47 PM
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99 is brilliant. I love Upworthy as the trigger-happy internet. I moderated a panel recently with one of the founders of Upworthy and she was super smart. She even look kind of abashed when we started talking about their headline syntax.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:36 PM
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Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Thorn. I was afraid 93 would seem insensitive, but I'm glad it led you to share some interesting thoughts.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 10:46 PM
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But I think I'd have to look at a specific instantiation of white people bellydancing, and have an offended Egyptian explain what the specific problem was with it, to know how I felt.

I would be willing to take such a complaint seriously only if it was delivered in Coptic by an Egyptian wearing a djellaba who was a regular attender at the Temple of Isis and Osiris. Because speaking Arabic? Wearing trousers? Being a Muslim? All appropriated by Egyptians from other cultures.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 2:50 AM
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94: I do see why one might wonder how the trigger warning can be useful when it's a label on a box that says "hey there's a graphic description of rape in here," inside of which there is only another slip of paper, with a graphic description of rape on it. but one might know in principle, and even in a great degree of detail, about the realities of factory farming and still puke one's guts up in a slaughterhouse, or, to be fairer, after watching an awful, well-edited, gruesome PETA undercover video on full screen. it's the details of the story that gut-punch you, and that's why it's just good manners to say, "hey, if this is going to ruin your day and make you cry in the bathroom if you read it, then don't read it!" there will be one detail in the story that is like a thin flexible blade that slipped between your floating rib and the next, and you are done now. over. your whole face will turn red and hot and just prickle with retroactive shame and anger, and you will be angry at yourself too. "why did I read that! god I'm such a fucking dumbfuck! why do I do this to myself!" and maybe your partner won't be super-sympathetic, because they've heard this before, but plenty, and why did you read that, fuckface?

I do think there's a pretty limited palette of things for which one might be expected to offer a trigger warning. like, even if you are miserable right now because your beloved dog died at 12--and that is true, real emotional pain, as every pet owner knows--still it wouldn't be fair to say to someone who wrote a moving story about how she had to put her two-year-old dog down because she had a fatal disease, "you should have put a trigger warning for people that are so fucking sad right now because, honestly, the person who loved them best in the world is dead." even though that blog post wrecked you sideways worse than some shit I read about child abuse the same day. because we don't just think, as a class, people that miss their beloved companions need this protection.

what needs trigger warnings...it's like, people are raped or abused or sexually assaulted, or have a family member killed...mom tried to burn the house down with you inside? I'll go for that. but not so many things. just a short list, and don't be an asshole, and don't listen to kim du toit, because his masculinity is threatened by commercials for breakfast cereals. really though. on your college syllabus, should you mention that shit gets fucked up in beloved? warn people about how fucked up it's going to get? maybe so. ask people to come talk to you. I don't know. finally, remember when gawker was just choire sicha and his friend on the west coast? I used to correspond with them because there were only 12 blogs. LOL denton empire.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 9:02 AM
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104: She says, and I agree with this, it's not appropriation if it's forced upon a non-dominant culture by a dominant culture. That probably applies to 7th century Bedouin invaders just as well as modern white America. (May be null and void if bikini tops are involved.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 9:08 AM
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The Castock Estate's official position on Trigger Warnings is that they're well-meant, but they promote a fundamental misunderstanding of what PTSD Triggers are and how they work. The true hell of PTSD triggers is that they are not predictable nor necessarily obviously tied to the source (or mention of the source) of the trauma.

Of course there are more senses of the word "trigger" than specifically PTSD triggers, but it was concern about PTSD specifically that seems to have motivated the "trigger warning" meme, and it's wrong.

Hello, Unfogged. Long time no see.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 10:57 PM
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(And apologies to the thread above, I'm sure the Castock Estate's objections have already been mentioned somewhere, I did not read the full thread.)


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 10:59 PM
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(.... or the linked post, apparently. The grand re-entrance is going well.)


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 11:12 PM
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Good to see you dude.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 11:23 PM
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Likewise!


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 03-20-14 11:28 PM
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Fuckin' A yeah Castock.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-21-14 12:06 AM
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Ditto.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-21-14 12:38 AM
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Yay, Castock!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-21-14 1:21 AM
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106: doesn't really apply to things like "wearing trousers", though, does it? There's no one forcing Egyptians to do that. There are people all over the Middle East who are perfectly happy wearing dishdash or djellaba.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03-21-14 2:38 AM
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Castock! I'd been wondering where you were. (Other than Canada, of course.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-21-14 4:21 AM
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Outside of a Canada, it's too dark to comment.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-21-14 5:40 AM
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Hey, dudes! And dudettes!


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 03-21-14 7:54 AM
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Welcome back, Lord Castock! Now prepare to die!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-21-14 7:56 AM
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119.last: Um, trigger warning, Walt!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-21-14 8:00 AM
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All of us should be preparing to die, all the time. Death is inevitable. Welcome back, Castock.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-21-14 8:04 AM
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119: Some part of me knew that my ancient feud with Lee Majors would be waiting. Game on.

Hey, Halford!


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 03-21-14 8:20 AM
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Good to see you back, LC.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-21-14 8:20 AM
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115: Trousers are self-exploitation.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-21-14 8:31 AM
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124 With the right positioning, fabric and walking vigor they can be.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-21-14 11:00 AM
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