University issues trigger warning that classic novel ‘Kidnapped’ contains themes of abduction, betrayal

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A new alert has been put out by the University of Aberdeen regarding student readers to beware that the classic novel “Kidnapped” by Robert Louis Stevenson contains themes of abduction.

It is usually best not to make assumptions or to “judge a book by its cover.” However, it is certainly understandable if one made certain assumptions about a book entitled “Kidnapped,” and believing without reading a single page that the idea of being involuntarily taken captive by an unlawful individual or organization might possibly feature very prominently in the story.

Yet the enlightened academics at the University of Aberdeen, in Aberdeen, Scotland, have seen fit to alert the student body nevertheless, warning that the classic 19th century novel “contains depictions of murder, death, family betrayal and kidnapping,” the Daily Mail reported.

The trigger warning for older works isn’t new out of the prestigious university, however. This is the same school that told students that the classic “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare contains “sexist attitudes” and, a surprise only to undergraduates who haven’t taken history classes before, even has a plot that “centers on a murder.” The real-life Gaius Julius Caesar was, of course, stabbed to death in the Roman Senate in the famous “Ides of March” of March 15th, 44 BC.

The university also warned students that another classic, “A Tale Of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, “contains scenes of violence, execution and death.” As most literature students know, the book is about the French Revolution in its most radical years in the early-to-mid 1790’s, during which time the guillotine was used extensively, and is usually featured in cover illustrations for the book. The famous phrase “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” is from the opening sentence of the book.

In documents obtained by Daily Mail on Sunday via Freedom of Information laws in the United Kingdom (UK), the university’s administrators have urged its professors to assemble trigger warnings for classical literature, insisting to its faculty that students had shown “a strong preference” for such warnings on material that might be potentially “distressing” and “emotionally challenging.” This is in spite of the fact that even the university itself has admitted that there is a dearth of decisive evidence indicating that such warnings actually serve a purpose, including the stated goal of protecting students from traumatic experiences.

Nevertheless, the instructions insist that “consideration should be given to each and every element of the course, regardless of historical period, fictional setting, medium or any other potentially mitigating factor.” Teachers are to “verge on the side of caution and don’t shy away from providing warnings about what may be considered obvious,” such as warning that a book titled “Kidnapped” may feature themes of… kidnapping.


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