Column: Roger's Soapbox

Trigger Warnings

By: | April 8, 2015

Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

You will probably have heard of “trigger warnings.” They are advance notification — in a book, say, or at a public lecture or debate — that certain topics to be raised might offend or disturb those who encounter them.

Examples apparently include violence and smoking, the very mention of which, it is suggested, can cause offense or induce a medical condition in some of those not forewarned of the nature of the impending discussion.

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Trigger warnings are the stepchild of the “parental advisories” once stuck onto record albums.

Formal trigger warnings appeared on online message boards in the early days of the web, and have now spread to colleges and universities in the U.S. and UK.

Sex, pregnancy, addictions, insects, death, racism (or any -ism), swearing — all must be flagged in advance to warn the sensitive that the balance of their minds might become disturbed, were they to continue to read or listen.

Instructions for those who issue trigger warnings at public events include (and I kid you not):

“Where possible, have self-comfort places and objects available to your participants, such as things they can play with with their hands, and a self-comfort area available such as a quiet room.”

The baby boomers’ grandchildren apparently must avoid exposure to the real world. This might explain why, earphoned, they stare into tiny screens all day long, looking at kitties on the Internet.

Sex, pregnancy, addictions, insects, death, racism (or any -ism), swearing — all must be flagged in advance to warn the sensitive that the balance of their minds might become disturbed, were they to continue to read or listen.

Avoiding future discomfort is not enough for the trigger happy. History must be corrected, they say, since today’s youth are such precious flowers.

Some of the words in works by Mark Twain and other authors have been expunged from recent reprints, lest — horrors! — the reader discover that the past is a different country.

With this in mind, as a service to those in the insurance industry, I have drawn up some language that you might soon find useful.

Insurance policy trigger warnings:

This policy may contain, and force you to confront, such appalling concepts as liability, damage, dismemberment, pure loss, and in almost every case, a peril.

Your insurance policy may refer to such distressing notions as hazard, theft, impairment, deductible, and death (yours).

In order to claim under this policy, you must first suffer a loss, excluding loss of the will to live after coming face to face with all the unspeakable concepts that insurance considers a part of its everyday business.

(You will be required to deal on a self-insured basis with any suffering consequent upon reading this warning.)

In considering the purchase of this insurance coverage, you will have to seriously confront your chances of incurring such gruesome concepts as all risks (every single one of them), substandard auto, unintentional tort, collision, an elimination period, exposure, and gross leverage.

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We offer policies to, and deal with, bullies, racists, inconsiderate parkers, nosy parkers, and others who many people find it uncomfortable to be around.

We apologize.

Bad things happen to good people, and we deal with the consequences.

It’s horrid, but there we are. Have a cup of tea and lie down for a while.

Ah, the hell with it. Grow up.

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]