The Triggering: Has Political Correctness Gone Too Far? was an event hosted by the College Republicans Club of the University of Massachusetts Amherst on April 25, 2016, featuring former philosophy professor and host of The Factual Feminist YouTube series Christina Hoff Sommers, political commentator Steven Crowder and Breitbart senior technology editor Milo Yiannopoulos. The topic of discussion was the effect of political correctness on free speech, and whether political correctness culture has grown to be detrimental christmas socks wholesale. Additional topics included social justice, feminism, trigger warnings, and microaggressions. Some students attending began protesting mid-event, accusing the panelists of hate speech and demanding that they leave campus.
As Kyle Boyd, president of the Amherst College Republicans, introduced the topic and attempted to begin the discussion, he was interrupted by the shouts of both protesters and supporters. In his introductory remarks, Yiannopoulos stated “Feminism is cancer. Thank you very much,” and immediately ended his comments, prompting more shouts of protest. Hoff Sommers took the podium, but before she could begin she was met with shouts accusing her of racism fabric lint remover. Then Crowder began to deliver his opening remarks, addressing the protesters in the audience as “you silly liberal fruitcakes”. The interruptions and protests continued throughout the event, with protesters catcalling the speakers, accusing them of racism and hate speech, and insulting them.
One protester, a Hampshire College student, was recorded repeatedly shouting “Keep your hate speech off this campus!” and “Fuck you sports bottles!”, and demanding “Stop talking to us like children!”; to this last demand, Hoff Sommers replied, “Stop acting like a child and I will.” Before the event, the student had distributed flyers claiming that the panel was made up of people who “don’t give a shit about people’s trauma and pain and think it’s funny to thrust people into states of panic and distress” and who “fundamentally do not understand what a trigger is, what it means to be triggered, and what a trigger warning is meant to prevent”.
One of the event organizers, Nicholas Pappas, indicated that protests had been anticipated, but that they had not been expected to be as intense as they actually were unseasoned meat tenderizer. Pappas described the protesters as seeking to “censor speech they don’t like”, and that the purpose of the event was to “give other students our perspective.”
All proceeds from the event were donated to charity.
Video of the event was published online. Former Washington Times journalist Robert Stacy McCain noted on his blog that many Twitter users had claimed that a student had been doxed by being identified in the video, which McCain described as “a misuse of the term ‘doxing‘“.
One student, identified only as a UMass student of the class of 2016 majoring in communications, sent an email addressed “To the Chancellor, and other esteemed members of the UMass faculty and staff” regarding “Concerns for Student Diversity Safety”. The student requested a “formal apology of the UMass GOP to the student body” for bringing in the speakers for the event, “veiled under the cover of a ‘political seminar’, but [which] was nothing more than slurs and bigotry.” The student also labelled the Amherst College Republicans a “hate group” and claimed that the event caused many students to “now feel unsafe on this campus”. Crowder issued a response to this email on his website defending his positions.