Scrabble Association Moves to Ban Racial, Ethnic Slurs

The Scrabble Players Association moved to “remove all slurs”—up to 225 of them—from its official lexicon from its official word list for Scrabble tournament play, a report said Wednesday.

“It’s the right thing to do,” John Chew, the chief executive of the association, told the New York Times. A vote from the association’s 12-person board is expected by the end of the week.

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“To say, ‘I have the right to use hate speech because I declare that it has no meaning’—although a very popular opinion among Scrabble players—I don’t think is defensible on any sort of logical or ethical basis,” he said.

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The move comes during what critics see as a mass censoring of society stemming from violent protests that have swept across the U.S. and a growing popularity of cancel culture. Twitter, the social media giant, announced earlier this month that it was going to remove words like “master, slave and blacklist” from its code.

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One Twitter user reacted to the association’s move and asked, facetiously, “Have people just been throwing the n word on the scrabble board up until now?”

The Telegraph newspaper ran an op-ed titled, “Cancel Culture is Taking Our Words Away—and We Should All Be Very Afraid.”

“We could then return to the use of hieroglyphics (or ‘emojis,’ as they’re now called), and reduce every human expression and emotion to either a flamenco-dancing woman or a sad face,” Celia Walden wrote.

The Times’ report pointed out that these words deemed offensive have been banned in the retail game, but not by the official governing body. Hasbro, the multinational conglomerate, owns the rights to Scrabble in North America, banned the words since 1994 and the paper pointed out that the company “has no control over the 192,111 playable words on the word list used by the players’ association.”

Hasbro said in a statement to ABC 7 that in 1994 the company worked with Merriam-Webster to identify and remove offensive words from the Scrabble dictionary.

Despite the association’s vote that reportedly still needs to take place, the company said the rule change has already been approved.

“Additionally, Hasbro is changing the official rules of its Scrabble game to make clear that slurs are not permissible in any form of the game,” the statement read.

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