I gained the understanding early on that certain symbols like X had a degree of flexibility. They could be different numerical quantities (usually a stand in for a real number, although sometimes a complex or a rational or integral number), or some other object (an indeterminate, or random variable, or abstract space or algebraic entity). As a result, X is loosely associated with the thing it represents. (I am going to be vague and ignore the philosophical question of whether different occurrences of X are distinct or are just the same symbol appearing at different times in a narrative. For this narrative, X behaves as a unique entity as symbol.)
Not all symbols are mathematical in nature. There is a symbol that bothers me. I will call it W. It is a trigger for me. When it is used, I believe the person expressing it is using it for hate and for nothing else. In my view, this symbol is strongly associated with hate.
I believe the (former) avatar of Patriot is a symbol which is a trigger for many. I don't care to trigger other people, so I am for the case of not seeing this symbol anywhere on MathOverflow. However, this avatar is not a trigger for me. If I see it somewhere else, I either ignore it or avoid it. There are other actions I could take, but much of the time I do not see the benefit, and so do not.
I do not want to change the relationship between other people and their triggers. I am willing to do some accommodation for triggered people, especially if it means removing the trigger. I am willing because the hate that pours from them after they are triggered is more than I am willing to bear. Give them space for an emotional release, then move on to the business of the forum.
I think Todd Trimble seriously W up. (I think I did too, but in a more subtle fashion.) Whatever his personal feelings may be, as moderator his response should have been and should be more moderate, accommodating the fact that some people are triggered and some people are not. The assumption that everyone should be triggered and triggered in the same way suggests to me a tone of intolerance and hatred, and I am bothered by it. Some of the subsequent comments and posts show this tone as well. I do not feel safe in making statements on this thread. I do feel this post I make here needs to be made.
How did I W up? By dealing with triggered people in an oppositional fashion. Rather than being acutely aware of the situation and working on mollifying or at least staying silent, I decided to assert that the avatar is not a trigger for everyone, and that this should be acknowledged by the moderator. I tried to be moderate and nonconfrontational, and I failed.
Thanks for reading this far. What should be the takeaway? If we are to continue as a community to espouse certain ideals, we should take care of one another. I am very bothered by the post of Noah Snyder, not because of his assertion of his position, but because of the hate and intolerance I sense in it. I suspect he would not have even made it if I had not made my comment; this idea saddens me. Although I don't want to see hate (and I am not that fond of racism or slavery or White supremacy either) on this forum, I am going to see it from triggered people. If I am more aware, I will defer the fight of "non-triggered people are people too" in favor of having someone care for the triggered person.
I have more to say, but I will end up answering the question. Triggers on MathOverflow are to be avoided, not because certain causes should or should not be espoused, but because one can't do mathematics while triggered. While I am not triggered by the avatar, I support the removal of the avatar, and hope the user approaches this forum with mathematics and a more moderate presence. We should welcome the mathematics that is suitable for this community, and handle in a moderating fashion any mathematics which is not suitable. (Maybe someday we will decide what suitable mathematics looks like and agree upon that.)
In the case triggers do appear, they should be handled differently than was handled here. A small amount of competent moderation should be able to defuse the situation. I hope this is a learning example for others as well as for me. I apologize for my part in the prolongation of the hate. I do not possess the levity for a signature right now.