Monday, February 18, 2019

Reading William Johnstone's Trigger Warnings

So over at Camestros Felapton's blog, a comment was made on the post discussing the Dragon Awards, suggesting that the Sad Puppies would be likely to nominate books like the 'YA' novel Trigger Warnings, by William Johnstone.

The novel is available for free on my Amazon Kindle, so I thought I'd give all y'all a treat and do a read of it.

I'm not sure how far into it I'm going to last though. This book isn't actually by William Johnstone, who apparently wrote some nice Westerns before he died. (Westerns are one of the few genres I don't read much, though I can recommend a couple of them if anyone is interested.) It's by his niece, J. A. Johnstone. And holy hell is it terrible.

Chapters One through Four

Our hero, Jake Rivers, is hanging out in his dorm room -- a single, apparently -- with the windows open, sighing with annoyance over some terrible book he's reading. I assume he's being forced to read it for class. Maybe we'll find out more about this book later, because right now Jake hears a woman "cry out." Not cry out for help, mind you. The snowflake women at this liberal arts college would never think of asking for help, even when someone is beating them up.

Jake goes down to see if he can help, because that's the kind of guy he is. As he passes through the lobby of his dorm, he hears a group of students talking about such topics as privilege and microaggressions. Jake, while unimpressed, notes that he has no friends on this campus.

Outside, he stops a man (in a man bun) from slapping his girlfriend around, by slapping manbun guy around, basically. The battered girlfriend, instead of being grateful, shrieks at him for perpetuating Toxic Masculinity (yes, this is how J. A. Johnstone thinks this scene would go) and then all the kids from the lobby come out and also start shrieking at poor Jake. The battered girlfriend attacks Jake, "hissing and spitting."

You know how bitches be.

THEN Jake gets attacked by a bunch of students in black hoods who stream out of the bushes, wielding pipes and bicycle chains, screaming at him for being a fascist. When Jake beats up all ten or fifteen of them, the students from the lobby also start yelling that he's a fascist. Also a Nazi.

Oh, also one of the students in a black hood is a woman, and when Jake knocks her down, she starts screaming rape.

Women, amirite?

Jake has several solemn thoughts about other people in black hoods he has known, like the ones he fought in Iraq, who he watched (why did he just watch? Given he's such a bad-ass) "spouting Arabic" while they "sawed the head off" a Western journalist with a big knife. Also newsreels he remembers (because he was born in 1933) of men in black uniforms goosestepping off to

on their way to wipe out anyone who didn’t think exactly the same way they did. They had disarmed the citizenry, taken over all the newspapers and radio and colleges and univ- ersities and made it a crime punishable by death to say or even think anything they disagreed with . . . 

You know. Like those Leftists in America today. Get it? Get it?

Jake ends up in the office of the Campus Chief of Police, who is on his side, but what can he do, he says, what with today's media? He shows Jake a story, no doubt from Rachel Maddow, with the headline FAR RIGHT EXTREMIST ATTACKS COLLEGE STUDENTS.

Jake says he's not far-right. Okay, bub.

Then we get a flashback: Jake's first months on campus. We find out he is a decorated war hero. We find out he finished his undergraduate degree almost entirely before he was even a high school senior. Then he got in trouble, for doing boys-will-be-boys stuff, and ended up having to join the army, where he finished his undergraduate degree.

Now his grandfather wants him to get his masters degree. Apparently his grandfather is a billionaire, and owns most of this liberal arts college outside of Austin, "the finest academic institution in the country," as Granddad says, while shooting guns with Jake. (Jake is of course a better shot than even Granddad, because of course he is.) So Jake should go there.

Jake's daddy is a rich lawyer, and Jake hates him, for reasons I guess will be made clearer later.

But let's jump back a bit. Jake is here on campus to get his master's degree. But he's living in a dorm with undergraduates. And even though his masters is in Biology, he is compelled to take classes in English and political science and gender studies. These are all ridiculous classes, like "Feminist Critique of Christianity" and "LGBTQIAPKTales: A Seminar" and "The Toxic American Political Axis: Republicans, Nazis, and Fascists."

Okay. So first off, no masters student will be living in a dorm. And if one is living in a dorm, they'll be the RA, not just another student. And no masters student in biology is going to have classes like these on their curriculum.

That is not how the academy works.

Also, these course titles. Sweet Jesus. Someone has apparently never sat her ass down in a college classroom ever, never mind "the finest" college in the nation.

Which explains why this book is so silly -- someone spent her childhood being homeschooled, I suspect, or sent to one of those ACE 'schools,' and has mistaken MAGA American propaganda for reality.

Jake visits his adviser, a white guy who identifies as a black guy, and is lectured to about speech codes and told that this college doesn't usually take veterans, because a 'military background' doesn't prepare a student for the rigorous curriculum and stringent personal behavior standards required here.

Yeah, see, as someone who is an actual adviser, though not a strawman adviser, this ain't how it works, bucko. Universities love veterans. One, because for the most part they have been prepared for the rigors of the academic system. (As one of my best students, a Marine, said, university life is a snap after the Core.)

And second, veterans benefits. Not only do these benefits pay their tuition, they pay for all sorts of other things as well. No defaults, either -- also, fewer of them fail to graduate. Universities love students like this.

But this doesn't fit with J.A. Johnstone's propaganda. Of course Leftists hate veterans -- after all, didn't we spit on all those returning Vietnam soldiers? -- and so of course universities, which contain nothing but lunatic leftists, hate veterans too.

Besides giving Jake an eight page speech code which (among other things) forbids any mention of the First or Second Amendment (since mentioning these are microagressions), his adviser also gives him a thick booklet containing the university's rules for sexual conduct.

“This sets out the proper steps that are required to be taken before any sort of sexual contact to ensure that all such contacts are consensual,” [The adviser explains.] 
“No means no, eh?”  
“So yes means yes.” 
“No, yes also means no because of our heteropatriarchal, phallocentric culture.” 

There's more very hilarious comments about LGBTA students, and then Jake explains why he's living on campus -- because he wants the "full college experience." This is odd, given he has previously he'd made it clear he was here to get his degree, not to "experience" things. Also, he doesn't really seem the sort to want to "experience" new things. Also, why is his adviser advising him about housing issues? That's not what we do.

But obviously he needs to be in a dorm for plot reasons, and someone must have pointed out to J.A. that graduate students don't live in dorms, so she wedged this mini-scene in here.

And that takes us to the end of chapter four. More later, if I can stand it.


Nanani said...

In case you hadn't seen it, Jenny Nicholson did a review/dramatic reading of this book on her YouTube channel.

Here's the video, if links make it through the filter.


nicoleandmaggie said...

Can confirm re: loving veterans. I would also like to add that since they're generally older they *get my jokes* and cultural references. (Had one explain Ross Perot to the younger folks in the room last week.)

delagar said...

Nanani -- OMG. Other people have heard of this book?

It is SO TERRIBLE, I can't believe anyone published it.