* Serious Business *

In Defense of Cards Against Humanity

Once upon a time, a group of white college cishet boys came up with a card game. It was absurd. It was kind of horrible. It was hilarious. It was bigoted. It was an incredible new form of gameplay. It’s indefensible in it’s original form, but here’s the thing, despite the inherent problems with the game, most notably that it’s written with the idea of what it’s CREATORS and not the full breadth of the consumer base feel are funny, it’s become something far bigger than it’s origins. It’s become a MEDIUM, not simply a product.

The original deck, as published, has some SERIOUS problems that need not be ignored, but the merits of “sanitizing” your deck of Cards Against Humanity are numerous, and can bring back joy to the game if you find yours lacking. For starters, you can download the set rather than pay for it, since there ARE going to be some cards you just don’t want, and because patronizing your local print shop will make it easier to customize your deck later down the road.

Here are some simple ways to help make your deck safe for your friends group.

Step 1: Cards with cool people. The deck is a medium, not a message. Just because a given card combination is available to you at the moment, doesn’t mean you have to play it. MOST cards in the deck can be used in hilarious, off the wall, potentially inappropriate but not BIGOTED ways. If something hits the table that’s racist, sexist, transphobic, etc… the #1 cause of that is that the PLAYER is a bigot. Sorry folks.

Step 2: Cards on Probation. Some cards are impossible, or near impossible to use in a non-bigoted way. If you have cool friends, the result of this is that someone winds up sitting on those cards all game, unable to use them, and uncomfortably staring at something they’d really like to set on fire. Sometimes this is because of inherent bias on behalf of the card holder, (can’t find an appropriate way to play the “black people” card; they exist,) and sometimes that’s because the card itself is shit. (i.e. “A Robust Mongliod.”) A good house rule is that anyone stuck with one of these crap-cards can, upon drawing them, or any time later reveal the card to the group, and submit it to go in the “on probation” pile of cards, kept out of the game for that gathering.

Step 3: Cards in the Trash. You’re the owner of your deck. Anyone, at any time in your game can ask for a card to be put on probation, but since it’s your property, only you can put a final end to that card. Maybe you want to put the “Shittier Jewish Version of Christmas” card your brother put on probation back into the deck when he’s not there, because you’re Jewish, and you personally find it funny. Maybe you want to take the “Incest” card and run it through the garbage disposal because that shit will never be funny. It’s yours to destroy, go ahead. It’s your deck.

Step 4: Cards of Your Own. Now, if you’re destroying cards and wind up with too few… or if you’ve been playing with the same people a lot, you’re going to find that your game starts to get stale. There’s a solution for that too. Google “Cards Against Parody” and you will be assailed by hundreds of different fan-made rehashes of the game format. Cards Against Librarianship, Cards Against Gallefry, Ladies Against Humanity, and many others all use the black card/white card format to make the same sort of jokes that the original made, but with different viewpoints in mind. For every group you might be a part of, Women, Treckies, IT Professionals, Parents, what have you, there’s someone out there curating cards that you and your circle of friend will find funny. There are templates across the internet for making your own cards, to add things into the game that may be very specific to your friends or your locality, (ex. “Northway Exit 3” is in my deck.)

Step 5: Cards with Cool People. I’m sorry… am I repeating myself? Now you thought you started with some cool people. And then you sanitized your deck. Now there are still some combinations in the deck that will be bigoted, but the cards remain because there are more ways to use them that are cool, than those that are not. Yet this one jerk still manages to find the bigoted ways to play the cards, and does… and laughs. Stop playing with him.You don’t want to play CaH with this person. Honestly, you probably don’t want to share a meal with this person. They’re gross. Ew. But maybe they’re your brother and you have to. That doesn’t mean he has to be invited for CaH. STOP INVITING THIS PERSON. 

And lo… your game of Cards Against Humanity is fun again. There may be very little left of  your original deck (all the more reason to download) but there’s definitively merit in lambasting “Sean Penn” for “Not Giving a Shit About the Third World” so some of the cards will remain. Go forth and laugh once more!!!


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Standing by Your Freinds

Please note the globe.

Please note the globe. This was a public vaguepost. It’s way uncool to screencap anything that’s not publicly posted and make it public. This was laid out in public after I was unfriended, and clearly meant as a means of ‘taking the high ground.’

One of the most common things for people to do when they have a disagreement these days, is to vaugepost about it on Facebook in a show of moral superiority. The problem with this, is the vauge part. You can stand up and say “I took this stance and lost a friend over it,” and possibly have people tell you that your stance was actually pretty crappy, or you can say “Some moral causes are more important than friendships,” and just rack up the likes from friends who already like you and thus fill in for themselves something very worthy.

Now, normally when someone unfreinds me and pulls that shit, it’s something I let slide. I don’t have time for that. But in the case of Ms. Amanda here, I’m going to have to speak up, because in this case the person taking the moral high ground is doing so to defend their continued friendship with a person who has literally destroyed another person’s life, for no good reason, our un-cencored commenter: Ms. Ally Leavenworth.

Momentarily I would like to direct you back to a previos post from 2012 entitled “Mad World” and the rest of the “Lew’s Fire” category, in which I wrote about the fact that a pretty shitty young man named Christopher Felt, along with co-defendants Rustin Atchinson, and the aforementioned Ally Leavenworth, had been indicted on charges that they conspired, to burn my friend’s house to the ground. It was nothing but a basement full of ash by the time they were done with it, two cats turned out dead, and the third despite months of trying was never recaptured. Christopher bragged about it to a mutual acquaintance who I have no reason to disbelieve, and his accomplices have apparently attempted to explain their involvement to rather than deny them, on the grounds that they weren’t going to be able to stop him anyway or some shit like that, but the point is that these three are still tooling around on bail after being arraigned for this crime three years ago, and while the trials are still pending, I have zero personal doubt of their guilt.

As such, yes, there ARE consequences for standing by your friends, but that’s not always the moral high road, because sometimes your friends turn out to be abusers, racists, misogynists,  KKK members, rapists, murderers, anti-semites, gamergaters, or (alleged) ARSONISTS, and when you find out that your friend is engaged in outright reprehensible behavior you really CANNOT take the moral high ground when someone wants nothing to do with you for chilling with flat out harmful people. This kind of behavior is why we live in the kind of world we do, where people just give their friends a pass for being shitty people. You didn’t hear HIS side of the rape. You have to understand why they’re racist, they’re OLD and they don’t know any better. It’s about integrity in game journalism. It’s perpetuating the bad behavior of others by tacitly condoning it, is what it is, and when you pull that shit, the high ground is not yours to claim. Call it what it is, you value that friend more than you value their victims. End of story.


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My Underdogs, or “Over-There Problems”

I have recently come to understand what people mean when they talk about white feminists. So much is a statement about the color of their skin though that is certainly a major contributing factor but a statement about their attitude. A white feminist is the opposite of an intersectional feminist.

If you LARPed as I do you may have heard the phrase “that’s an over there problem.” It’s primarily used to indicate that whatever task has been presented, whatever non-player character has been sent to beg their help while certainly pressing in an in game context, is far too much trouble for them in and out of game context.  The players involved simply do not wish to walk that far or exert that much energy. It bothers me and for some time I have not been able to put my finger on exactly why, besides the fact that it was a phrase which could be uttered without anyone thinking you were a total jerk for letting that poor NPC die because you were lazy…because “not everyone can be a hero.” Well no, not everyone can be a hero, but at least then can not sit back smoke cigs and watch the NPCs get slaughtered like it’s nothing.

But I think the reason it really bugs me is that it’s not just a LARP thing. To the ‘white feminist’ issues of racism, heterosexism, cissexism, and ableism constitute an over there problem. These are real world situations and while the player characters in a LARP can often afford to ignore the distressed farmer due to their meta knowledge that it is merely a game, we have no such luxury as regards real world social justice. The white feminists has the luxury of separating these things from their feminism because these things do not directly impact their own lives as much as sexism does, and so do not regard these problems as real. No, not everyone can be the hero, but if inequities don’t at least bother you, if seeing people act in reprehensible ways doesn’t at least make you think less of them, then you’re either not engaging with the world, or you’re a ‘white feminist’

This came to me in the form of a nasty surprise when during the discussion of race a person I had previously considered to be an ally and a good feminist referred to the act of my calling out a serious case of racism, as inappropriate.Considering a person who said racist things to be a racist, was wrong, because I could not hold others to my lofty standard of, well of not spewing racist crap, and I was further wrong in ‘attacking’ one of the nicest people on the board, they say, for telling her I considered her behavior of excusing racism instead of admitting that the person she was defending was being a total racist, to be reprehensible, and to make her complicit in said racism. And this is what was said…

“I know you’re very passionate about your underdogs but…” Wait: MY underdogs? That phrase has stuck with me for months, dancing at the back of my mind like a horrific taunting child.I barely made it past that phrase, but it was the beginning of the end. There wasn’t enough backing. It became an internet pile on and I was underneath. I left the group, and not on good terms, but it was clear from then on there was no point in staying. The few good people there were too invested in their friendships with the ‘white feminists’ to speak up.

But lets back up for a moment unpack that idea:

“MY underdogs.” I’ve been given ownership in this phrase of marginalized people because what, they’re pets? You can’t own people, we’ve been thru that crap already. So what does it really mean? It’s a way for the speaker to indicate that she belives that no one involved in this conversation, no one in this facebook group, cares about these people but me.

“My UNDERDOGS.” Underdogs are people you expect to loose, and no one makes a fuss when they do. They were smaller. They were weaker. They weren’t as skilled at the sport, or game at hand. They’re so brave just for fighting, and sometimes they eeke out a win by some unconventional means, but no one’s kidding themselves that the underdog is as good as the perennial winner. To these white feminists, women were an oppressed class, but people of color, disabled people, transgender people, these are people to be pittied like the underdog, for their differences which make them less.

This is why we need intersectionalism. Feminists, all feminists, need to recognize the validity of other axis of oppression and be willing to stand up against that which does not personally affect them, for no other reason than that seeing that injustice perpetrated makes them ANGRY. We need to take it more personally when oppression is happening in our presence, even if it’s not ‘your’ fight. There is NO SUCH THING as an “over there problem,” and they’re NOT MY UNDERDOGS.

Get with it, or get out of the way.

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Relative Definitions of “Maturity” or “Morality”?

When there’s a conflict regarding the entertainment value of a certain situation, it often comes down to a conflict of belief over what constitutes “maturity.” The party who finds the situation to lack entertainment value finds themselves considering the party who thinks it’s entertaining to be “immature” while conversely the entertained person finds the unamused to be “no fun.”

At first glance this appears to be a fully relativistic situation, which if you have fully relativistic morals it can be… which means that what it really comes down to is not a conflict of maturity level, (unless the amused party is of an age where their personal moral compass is still developing) but of clashing moral values.

Let us, for example, take the basest of humor. Bodily functions.

Let us start for example with the supposition that someone farts.

To the person who’s moral compass is prescribed by social pressure and archaic etiquette requirements, we shall call this class of person more conservative, a person passing gas, in any circumstance, can be dealt with in one of two ways. Either the person can put themselves forward directly, as a policer of others, bodies by  directly shaming the flatulent party, or they can apply more oblique social pressure in the form of raucous laughter meant to induce embarrassment in the flatulent one, who has transgressed by failing to remove themselves from the presence of others before expelling gas. This comes with the added bonus of forming social bond with anyone else present who also laughs, and thus makes their agreement clear in ways they would be less prone to do in a situation of direct confrontation. As a result many more conservative types persist in considering farts funny well into adulthood, labeling those who vocally disagree as “no fun.”

To the person who’s moral compass is prescribed by more practical concerns of harm done, and direct cause and effect, without regard for more traditional etiquette, let us say someone more progressive, a person passing gas is in many circumstances something to be simply ignored and moved past. To these people flatulence is a natural consequence of being human and the transgression would be to comment at all unless the flatulence in question has caused a lingering effect (like a foul odor) and in any case ridiculing laughter would be considered to cause more harm than good, and so the proper response would be taking action to mitigate the effect (opening a window and fanning the air.) As a result these party would consider the laughter of the above conservative parties to be the transgression, rather than the fart, labeling their reactions “immature.”

Now conversely, lets us say that someone, in the course of a joke, mentions that they are menstruating.

The more conservative party, would not be able to laugh, regardless of whether the joke in question was funny, as that would constitute agreement with the speaker’s transgression of failing to hide their current menstrual status. They would consider anyone who does laugh to be “immature” for not realizing this transgression, or for realizing it and giving tacit agreement thru laughter.

Meanwhile the more progressive individuals, if the joke is otherwise funny would be likely to laugh, as they consider menstruation to be a fact of life, and no impact whatsoever on the relative entertainment value of the joke. If called to the mat over this by the above conservative types, they would have to consider them to be “no fun.”

In a purely relativistic situation each party could describe the other as “immature” because they naturally expect that a fully developed moral compass is identical to their own. This is a mistake. In truth the party considering the other to be “immature” is likely to be the immature party, due to their own underdeveloped relationship to critical thinking, which if applied would bring them to the conclusion that it’s a morality issue, not a maturity one. It’s an easy enough mistake to make, particularly as the more conservative viewpoint actually mimics quite closely the childhood body humor phase which most of us grow well out of. It’s a folly I’ve found myself perpetrating in the past.

It’s not about who’s more mature. It’s about who’s morality is “correct.”

And I would put forth that the “correct” position is that of the more progressive person who recognizes bodily functions as being for the most part below the need for comment. Why? Because we all fart. It’s a consequence of having a human body, and those who have a problem with a fart often have a problem with other bodily functions and their existence as well.

There is no shame in a fart, or in a burp.  There’s no shame in vomiting, or having bowel trouble. There is no shame in menstruation, or not menstruating, or being pregnant, or not being able to be pregnant. There is no shame in an unwanted erection, or erectile dysfunction. There is no shame in having genitals, whatever they may be like, however they may match or mismatch with your gender identity, and however you choose to use them with other consenting parties. There is no shame in wearing underwear, or not. There’s no shame in a woman’s exposed breasts if she chooses to bear them. There’s no shame in being fat. There’s no shame in being skinny.

The position which shames bodies is the morally wrong position, from where I sit.


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That’s Not How Being a Human Being Works!!!!

So, in the wake of the Stuebenville convictions, and the pitiful sentences handed down, I attempted a conversation with my boyfriend this morning about rape culture…

Mayo: So now all the news outlets are going on and on about the poor widdle rapists and how their lives are ruined. UGH.

DB: Wait, Are you SEROUS?

Mayo: Yup.

DB: But that doesn’t doesn’t even make any SENSE!!!!

That’s my DB. He’s a good person. Not a “Nice Guy” but a genuinely good person. He’s also very sheltered by his privilege. Apparently this morning, in conversation with me, was the first time he’d discovered the sheer prevalence of rape culture. To DB, the adherents of such behavior are few, far between, and about as universally ridiculed as openly racist people shouting racial slurs on the street corner, rather than approximately as multitudinous and tacitly approved of as homophobes and transphobes, who still think they don’t “count” as bigots because they’re right, and God is on their side. But even as sheltered as he is, it took him less than half a second once provided a window into Rape Culture, to intuitively understand that it’s fucked up wrong. This is why he’s a good person.

Mayo: It doesn’t have to make sense, they’re MRAs.

DB: I don’t understand how they can even TRY and say that it was her fault. She was unconscious!!! How does an unconscious person agree to sex?

Mayo: They don’t understand the concept of enthusiastic consent. They’re on about how she didn’t clearly and firmly say “no” so it wasn’t rape.

DB: What’s enthusiastic consent?

Mayo: The idea that she doesn’t have to say “NO,” but the lack of a “YES” means there’s no consent.

DB: But there IS no consent without a YES!!!!!

At this point the poor dear is incredibly flustered and incredibly shrill. He’s never heard of enthusiastic consent because he’s never heard of any OTHER kid of consent. Either she said yes, completely in the absence of any type of coercion, or it’s not on.

Mayo: I know that, and you know that, but you’d be surprised the number of people who don’t get that, and that’s where you get these kinds of people on the internet moaning on about how the girl should take responsibility for her part in her own freaking rape, and be punished along with the boys who did it.

DB: But… that’s not how consent works! That’s not how being a DECENT PERSON Works!!! THAT’S NOT HOW BEING A HUMAN BEING WORKS!!!!

Now what’s the point in relaying this story, beyond the fact that it’s mildly amusing his brains breaking like this? The point is that even as divorced as he is from it, DB provides proof of the existence of rape culture. He and other children raised like him, somehow isolated from and blind to such influences, don’t even comprehend the idea. There is no overriding human nature that creates these ideas in the minds of men. They are not reacting as is “natural” to a society that has “stripped their manhood” or denied them sex. They are raised on the idea that they are somehow entitled to sex, and that women’s default position is not NO but YES, they are TAUGHT Rape Culture. It’s not something that just happens, and there IS another way.

And we need to stop teaching them that, and teach them how being a human being REALLY works.


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