I love warning labels, especially on food. I may know what I should and want to eat, but I need to be told what I am eating. When I was much younger, I used to trust Corporate more than I do now. Too many companies look more to their bottom lines than to safety or even honesty about what goes into the things we put into our mouths, some of which are just chemicals with added water.
That said, what about warning labels on books? Not long ago, I got an email from a reader who complained that I should have been honest enough to let readers know I had a homosexual character in my books so they wouldn’t be exposed to such morally offensive content. In my reply, I took a page from the latest warnings that theaters give about their plays. Since they cannot list everything that everyone might find troubling, they ask patrons to call the box office to find out about their specific concerns. In my case, I suggested that the person might have read the back of the book which held a clear hint about content.
As much as I appreciate warning labels, I agree that there is too much to list everything, especially when it comes to creative work. Issues I find offensive are not what others do and vice versa. So I have learned to be a cautious consumer of books. On the flap or back, there are clue words suggesting whether the book matches a particular taste: time travel, romance, dark, the faith of characters, sexual struggles, decapitated bodies, and so forth. I also find it advisable to read a bit of the book to see if any of the questionable content is enough to put book down and move right along. Sometimes, I have been surprised by a book. Ken Bruen, for instance, is darker than I normally read, but his prose is like poetry and I find his work addictive.
So my solution to warning labels is this. If it is a matter of chemistry and food, tell me. I do not own a home lab to test what I eat. If it is a book, give me clue words and I will be responsible enough to check the book out for my particular definition of objectionable content. That I can do without a lot of expensive equipment.