#TheTriggering Is Spreading Hateful Messages in Defense of Free Speech

March 10th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

Social media is no stranger to controversy and bigotry, but a recent episode sparked by the hashtag #TheTriggering has a bit of twist.

What is #TheTriggering?

#TheTriggering is a trending Twitter event aimed at shaming those who are “triggered” by sensitive subjects.

20-year-old conservative Canadian blogger Lauren Southern told ATTN: that she started the hashtag as form of protest. She said our culture is too sensitive and it's costing us free speech.

"The definition of hate speech can change by the week," she said. "What was hate speech 100 years ago was if you spoke out against God. With such a volatile thing as hate speech, you must defend it to defend all speech."

She tweeted in September of 2015 that the hashtag #TheTriggering should be used on March 9, 2016 to encourage offensive remarks. She chose a strategic day that nods to the surrounding dates of International Women’s Day and Osama Bin Laden’s birthday.

Supporters of #TheTriggering didn’t waste much time before attacking racial, gender, and transgender equality issues and so-called 'politically correct' terms.

Southern called some of the hateful ideas Tweeted through #TheTriggering "unfortunate," and said that she would not use some of the language herself. However, she also said making racist and sexist comments is the whole point of #TheTriggering.

“That’s exactly what we’re trying to be, offensive bigots, because that should be allowed,” Southern said. “When you kill offensive speech, even when you kill hate speech, you kill free speech along with it.”


Not everyone is buying Southern's argument that #TheTriggering is all about defending free speech.

In an post for Harlot, writer Aaminah Khan argues that #TheTriggering is really all about disrespecting and trivializing the feelings of others:

The people behind #TheTriggering weren’t dauntless free speech advocates—just sad and spiteful little gremlins who genuinely think that trans people should die and women need to talk less.

As is often the case with hashtags designed to offend women, people of color, religious minorities and the LGBT community, the hashtag is also being used by those who are pushing back against the derogatory messages.

RELATED: Are The #CrimingWhileWhite and #AliveWhileBlack Hashtags Dismantling Racism?