November 10th, 2016 by Dr. Nina Asher

What is it to be protective – to protect in a real way – which is to hold a space for someone to see, speak the truth and be heard? It is not bubble wrapping someone with trigger warnings but rather it is holding someone when they bump up against painful realities – personal or societal. If the words aren’t spoken, a true, deep layer of feelings can’t be experienced. If we spend all our time removing places where safe speech can exist, how will our children grow to know kindness, wise speech, empathy, compassion for their own and others experiences?

So when colleges ban books, words or ideas from the normal dialogue, they are making a serious assumption. That is, they are presuming to know what will offend, disturb a person when what triggers one person might not register to another.

Universities then become more paternalistic – that is, they determine what is damaging instead of letting words, books, speakers exist in a climate of openness where what is triggered can be discussed and understood in the context of the individual or the group.

All of life is about the context and circumstances that exist in a particular time, place, or person. Omissions limit discussion.

Protection is not being over-protected or coddled. Rather, people feel protected when they are held with respect, listened to, heard, and are allowed to experience their truth without judgment.