Are we officially one step away from book burning? On radio this morning, Glenn reacted to a bizarre New York Times report that highlights a movement for so-called “trigger warnings” to be placed on college reading materials that could potentially “upset” students. Books that allegedly warrant the warning label include Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, and Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex.

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“[Colleges are] deciding they need to put labels on the books so their cutie sweetie pies… won’t be shocked or horrified,” Glenn said disgusted. [We are] putting warning labels on books now… Let’s cut to the chase: Somebody stop at the gas station and get some gas and we’ll burn a bunch of books.”

So what exactly are “trigger warnings”? According to the Times:

“[Trigger warnings are the] explicit alerts that the material [students] are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.”

The Times reports the warnings have their “ideological roots in feminist thought” and have gained particular traction at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Oberlin College, Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, and George Washington University among others.

Books like The Merchant of Venice, Mrs. Dalloway, and Oedipus Rex are considered candidates for trigger warnings because they contain themes of anti-Semitism, suicide, and violence.


At Oberlin College, a draft guide was circulated that asked professors to put trigger warnings in their syllabuses:

“Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression,” the guide said. “Realize that all forms of violence are traumatic, and that your students have lives before and outside your classroom, experiences you may not expect or understand.” For example, it said, while “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe — a novel set in colonial-era Nigeria — is a “triumph of literature that everyone in the world should read,” it could “trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide and more.”

“Why don’t we just ban books and start burning them? Let’s cut to the chase here. We all know where we’re going. Why don’t we just get there? I’m a guy in a hurry,” Glenn concluded. “Are we just going to ban books? Is that what we’re going to do? Ban books? Burn books? I just want to make sure we all know who we are and where we’re headed instead of taking it incrementally, as progressives always do. Instead of progressively getting closer to that bonfire, let’s just burn them now… Give me a list of the books and let’s burn them.”

Read the full New York Times report HERE.

Front page image courtesy of the AP