It’s a better fit than you think

Skeptics are alarmed this morning about the latest censorship. A small university in England has placed a trigger warning on 1984.

Doing just what the book warned us against? Yes, but in a more subtle and deeper way.

Orwell emphasized the caste distinction between Inner Party and Outer Party and Proles. We have the same three castes now. Inner Party is Deepstate. Outer Party is the courtiers and low-level operatives. Proles are Deplorables.

Orwell was especially clear about the KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEFS of each caste.

Inner Party had correct information about the world, and correct information about the leader’s real intentions. Inner Party discussed the facts openly within their circles. You can’t destroy civilization EXPERTLY unless you have EXPERT knowledge.

They knew it was a hoax because they made the hoax.

Outer Party, the courtiers and Karens, DID NOT KNOW the truth. They wanted desperately to move up and join the Inner Party. They BELIEVED the hoax because their paychecks and desires induced belief.

Proles were not privy to Inner Knowledge, but they were ALSO not required to believe the shit. Proles have direct contact with the world and direct contact with other people. They can see that the world is NOT what the Party describes. Nobody cares if they believe, as long as they obey the letter of the law.

This particular little censorship fits the Orwell knowledge structure. Students at a small university are Outer Party. They can’t be allowed to see reality.

= = = = =

More generally, of course, trigger warnings are NOT censorship, and censorship is NOT Orwellian. Warnings and selectivity are natural and necessary. Libraries and bookstores and movie theaters have always found ways to label and warn about books that might offend one group or another. The warning is helpful if your religion or sanity or blood pressure requires you to avoid certain kinds of stressful inputs. The same warning can also make a book or movie MORE popular among people who want this type of stress.