“For Pete’s sake, Sir, teach the men not to be ‘trigger happy.’ (Note: an expression used on Guadalcanal for men who are very nervous and who fire without seeing the enemy. This man is dangerous and has caused a lot of trouble . . .)”
Russel P. Reeder, jr. Fighting on Guadalcanal (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1943).
Skittish souls say they are “triggered” when a traumatic and allegedly repressed memory is recalled by a “triggering” phrase, image or act. And souls even more sensitive therefore tell us we must set out “trigger warnings” whenever there are “triggers ahead.” Devising a “trigger warning” that is not itself “triggering” requires uncommon subtlety and skill, such as might be demanded of a highway department that was forbidden to mention roadwork, or a janitor sworn to silence on the matter of wet floors.
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