Hi, I’m Aaron Glazer. You probably know me from the fact that I do not shut up anywhere, and on this one occasion, I feel this trait is serving a considerably less vapid purpose than arguing with people about cards. On the contrary, the fact that many of you know my voice, whether you like it or not, is something that compels me to speak.
I am really, genuinely bothered by the Brotherhood without Banners podcast and the stirrings its caused in our community. I, or friends of mine (Roy, Craven, so on), have spoken to all the involved parties: CardGameDB, the mods on the Facebook group, Keith, and gay community members. If you are unsure of anything I am saying, please, feel free to ask for clarification. You can call me a White Knight (or whatever term you like, really) but I’m writing this because this issue is something that matters to me and, I think, the community. If it doesn’t matter to you, it should.
I consider everyone who plays Thrones either a friend or a potential friend. There are people I’m close with, others who are mere acquaintances, and still others who are total strangers. Even so, I’ve played against or talked to an awful lot of the community, had drinks, sang, and enjoyed myself on two continents and in three countries. This was obviously easier in 1.0 with a smaller group, but the amazing people I’ve met so far in 2.0 have not changed my outlook in the slightest. Even those I haven’t met aren’t total strangers to me; we eventually meet, we play games, we go out for drinks. At the very least, we occupy same virtual space discussing our hobby. We are friends and potential friends. The controversy at its core, without discussing the intersection of various identity politics, is that certain friends are being made uncomfortable and unwelcome by this language.
Several of those people who play the game are, as noted earlier, gay. Using derogatory language towards them, towards anyone’s identity, really, is sending the message that they are less — that their natural way of being, by birth and biology, is weird and a somehow deviant to anyone “normal.” In short, it sends the message that they are not welcome.
Now, I (and others) accept that Keith and his crew NEVER intended their words to have this effect. If you enjoy their podcast, listen to it. If you don’t, then don’t.
But let me be clear: for me, associating an entire identity with patently offensive and demeaning language is categorically wrong and I won’t stand for it.
Before anyone brings up the issue of free speech, let me preempt the argument by saying that this statement is not an issue of free speech. No one’s First Amendment Rights are being infringed upon by me saying that using terms like those used in the first Brotherhood podcast and other such slurs is ignorant and completely unmeasured. Furthermore, there is nothing inherent to anyone’s First Amendment Right to expression that entitles him or her to hide behind a facade of “artistic expression,” free from criticism, when someone else says they are offended. It is equally vapid and damaging to repudiate the idea of “political correctness” simply because it prevents you from dropping bigoted quips into whatever mode of expression you are using.
It’s easy to say that it’s just words and people shouldn’t be offended. Everyone is not the same; some people are insulted, even hurt, by these words. And to assume that you, whatever your identity, should be able to say literally whatever you want, despite intentions and despite others’ feelings, makes you more than just entitled – it makes you wrong. Because as a result of this mentality, we may be losing members of our community, a community that has built a reputation as mature, accepting, generally good-natured people. By alienating certain people with insulting, coarse, uninformed language, you make them not want to sit across from and engage in a fun game with someone.
This post is not a joke. I’m someone who cares about this community and its members — both current and future. This game is about community and friendship, not exclusion and competition, regardless of the source material. Please, keep that in mind.
So, from me, you should know that, whatever your socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, level of physical ability, you are always welcome.