Farewell, adieu, and goodbye to some 230 odd words deemed offensive, with the bulk of the words constituting hate language aimed at particular groups, though it has created discord among members of the players’ association governing North American tournaments.
The New York Times first reported that the bans seemed imminent–noting that Hasbro, the owners of the Scrabble game, effectively announced the decision. Tournaments, however, are governed by a private body, the North American SCRABBLE Players Association (NASPA), and the decision was to be made by a 12-person advisory board.
That decision? Keep the offensive terms, a decision made with a 6-4 vote.
John Chew, the CEO of the group, overturned the decision, unilaterally enacting the ban on words, up to and including the n-word. A complete list of words–albeit, in scrambled form–can be found here. At least some of the words have non-offensive meanings as well, a fact that is sure to continue dividing Scrabble players, and several are banned for being “scatological” in nature, rather than being words aimed at others.
Hasbro has maintained for several decades that such language is not part of the game and repeated that Tuesday night via press release.
Debate is sure to rage on this topic. For some, the game should be about using the words available to score the maximum number of points, and words are words. For others, playing a game with an offensive term prominently on the board may cause discomfort. The community provided input through a poll that garnered more than 1000 results and support for removing offensive terms broadly wasn’t widespread, while removing the n-word received tepid support.
Prior to making the decision, Chew penned an open letter, outlining his thoughts.
“How can we in this day tell prospective members that they can only play with us if they accept that offensive slurs have no meaning when played on a board?
“If the youth of SCRABBLE are our future, then why do we haze them by making them memorize lists of offensive words? If a word is so offensive that it can only be referred to by its initial, does that not indicate that it retains its meaning in all contexts? How can we say words have no meaning, when the meanings are there for anyone who holds down their finger on a word in SCRABBLE GO?”
The ban is set to take effect this September in North America. Other jurisdictions are working with partners such as dictionary maker Collins while considering similar rules.
Top image: Wokandapix via goodfreephotos