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Slurs, Ableism, and Mixed Messages
Learn some new words, chummer

There's a trend that I've noticed since I started playing SD. While in general the community seems to do a good job of ICly discouraging racism, homophobia, and transphobia, there's a lot of ableism that isn't just overlooked, but actively defended by players and staff alike.

I'm not talking about cutting off someone's legs and then mocking them for being wheelchair bound, but rather the community's attachment to the slur "retard".

I seem to remember reading a thread where someone expressed their OOC discomfort at how overtly sexual pubSIC was and they were told to express/deal with it ICly. Yet, any time I’ve seen someone ICly express a dislike of that slur, instead of people OOCly taking the hint that “Hey, this term is outdated, offensive, and you’re alienating a lot of players” people have their character jump to defend its use.

It's one thing for the player base to do this, but when puppeted NPCs are actively defending its use, it gives the impression that staff support and encourage its. It sends mixed messages for a game that touts itself as caring about accessibility to have staff actively encouraging and defending ableism.

In addition to the above, it’s incredibly immersion breaking. It’s 2022 and I don’t think I’ve heard a friend or coworker use the word for nearly ten years now. It doesn’t feel like I’m in 2107, it feels like I’ve gone back to 2007.

Yes, I know that Withmore is a horrible place, the Mix is a slum on steroids, and there are countless atrocities happening every second and most characters really shouldn’t/wouldn’t care about someone’s choice of words. So maybe don’t make them have to?

Theme: Keeping Your Insults On Theme

Personally I think Slither's take there deals with many potential problems pretty elegantly:

But if it has a modern connotation, maybe we just don't use it? The rest are just lazy. Use cyberpunk slang. We have plenty of it.
The OOC world may evolve, but that doesn't mean the IC world needs to evolve with it in all ways. We don't want to end up running a simulation where we can't offend each other unless we're using imaginary words that would be just as offensive in the future as today's offensive words are.

Sindome is meant to be offensive to your senses and sensibilities. If we keep padding the corners, it won't be Sindome. Lets save the outrage for the truly problematic topics please.

I don't take goblinfemme's protest to characters using any language per se, but rather NPCs pushing back against their or other character's IC push back against it.

Personally I think it can't be both ways; if characters are free to be offensive, they should then be free to die on that hill in very literal terms for giving that offense.

Baka is Japanese for 'idiot', which is a lower IQ than 'retarded'. Sindome should be unapologetically offensive.
Johnny, I am not outraged, and implying that I am feels like an attempt to discredit my argument by writing it off as the emotional overreaction of some offended-by-everything snowflake. I assume this wasn’t your intention, but this is how it comes across.

While the OOC world and the IC world have evolved largely separate, the IC world still exists within the OOC one. Your slippery slope argument about padding the corners could be used to justify the acceptance of any number of overtly racist, homophobic, or transphobic slurs.

Personally, I can’t say that the noted lack of racial and transphobic slurs detracts from the Sindome experience. In fact, not all that long ago there was a server-wide OOC shout that asked people to not be overtly transphobic on pubSIC.

You may feel differently, but I don’t view that OOC shout as watering the game down or removing any of the grittiness, but rather as an attempt to cultivate an OOCly inclusive environment for people to ICly lie, cheat, steal, betray, torture, extort, or commit war crimes against one another.

I’m not saying that such an OOC shout should follow, or that there should be any policy or rule changes, just that maybe players could be a bit more creative with their insults, and that staff’s vehement defence of its usage, in my opinion, sets a bad example and contradicts Sindome’s mission statement.

Wulf, I am aware of the history of words like idiot, moron, imbecile, dumb, lame, etc. You appear to have entirely missed my point.

Furthermore, needing to rely on a slur to be offensive is outright lazy and uncreative. Sindome is not unapologetically offensive. It's not Encyclopedia Dramatica, it's not 4chan, and it's not HellMOO.

I don't often see characters who've been pickpocketed complaining about "that faggot dip", someone getting mugged by an androog and calling the mugger a "tranny", or characters using racist slurs targeted at the race of the character they're in a conflict with. More importantly, when a character does act overtly racist, homophobic or transphobic and other characters respond negatively to it, I don't see staff puppeting NPCs to chastise the characters who responded negatively and defend the character's right to be racist homophobic or transphobic.

Today is retarded, tomorrow it'll be disabled by someone else. There will always be a word that someone finds offensive because these words are designed to make someone feel negatively about being different somehow.

We've sacrificed racist, homophobic, transphobic, non-censentual sex talk to various degrees to make things somewhat safer and less offensive for minorities and LGBTQ+ players. We're a better community for it for sure, but unchecked, softening offensive language too far will water down the offensiveness. Each stone we lay implies we're willing to take another step. At some point, someone will object to encouraging suicide, at another point, someone to gun violence, and so on.

We can all choose to use more colorful, thematic language, but even things like 'chinese takeout' can be offensive, so eventually 'blank' will be just as offensive if we all know its the substitute for using this R word. Take offense ICly to all these words, think of the characters that use the antiquated terms as backwards thinking. I just don't want us to endlessly be self analyzing if our language is too offensive like we find IRL. Sindome is an escape to an offensive and cruel place and time, lets embrace that.

Maybe I wasn't clear before, "Slippery Slope" is a type of logical fallacy. Logical fallacies are flawed, deceptive, or false arguments that can be proven wrong with reasoning.

"Slippery Slope" specifically is If we allow A to happen, then Z will eventually happen too, therefore A should not happen.

The problem with this reasoning is that it avoids engaging with the issue at hand, and instead shifts attention to extreme hypotheticals. Because no proof is presented to show that such extreme hypotheticals will in fact occur, this fallacy has the form of an appeal to emotion fallacy by leveraging fear. In effect the argument at hand is unfairly tainted by unsubstantiated conjecture.

In this case, you're saying that if A (staff doesn't actively defend players using this word), then eventually Z (we'll end up with a carebear game with no violence or suicide).

Hopefully this is a bit clearer.

Your suggestion of taking offense ICly to these words makes it seem like you've not actually read what I've written. Whenever I see a character take offense ICly to the use of this word, I've seen staff puppet NPCs to vehemently defend using the word and chastise the character taking offense to it.

0x1mm got it exactly right, I'm not saying we should play word police. I'm saying that for a non-profit with the mission statement of providing & supporting accessible text-based online games, having representatives of the non-profit actively defending the use of an ableist slur is a bad look, bad PR, and serves to alienate and discourage people from playing the game.

As someone well versed in logical fallacies, and we have the advantage of a 20 year game, I actually want to say your use of a logical fallacy is incorrect in this application because what Johnny says is:

a. Not hyperbole. Banning suicide as a topic happens in other games, and is reasonable in some communities that was to maximize safe spaces for players to be. This happens with other topics, too. Especially in LARP spaces.

b. Has proof of it happening.

There is in fact written proof that when the sexual assault rule was being put in place, staff members from that period of time expressed concern that players would also take offense to other sexual-related themes. And that has happened. That's just one example of many.

So I'd say it's not a logical fallacy at this time.

Just to echo what was said on OOC.

I am really sympathetic that some words are offensive to people and can bring up real life trauma and dehumanizing experiences that may have been lifelong held. It sucks. It's awful. It's shit we don't want to deal with in real life.

But, there are a lot of ways to run games and communities. I think a lot of communities adjust and compromise (rightfully so! This is not a criticism.) to make the space as accommodating as possible to people who have had terrible shit happen to them and they just want to escape to a nice place. I think that's SUPER necessary and fantastic. There needs to be games like that.

However, there also needs to be a balance of games that are what they are and aren't accommodating. In these types of games, the game does not accommodate to make the in game material less offensive for players OOC, and it's up to players to adjudicate themselves within the confines of the rules. This is one of those games.

Part of what comes with that territory is understanding and embracing that these policies will cause people to leave and we are fine with discouraging/alienating people who are uncomfortable with these themes, and to encourage them to play somewhere that is safer for them. Because the goals are fundamentally different than the previously mentioned community type. There are a lot of reasons to choose this latter type of game, and those reasons don't matter for this argument.

For everyone else, what Sindome is, is right on the tin. I understand that this sucks for some people, they'd like to get what Sindome has to offer in the form of relationships, game systems, and so on without the extra 'baggage'. I'm sorry, I know those words are offensive in real life. I'm aware of the stigma.

But staff aren't going to enforce @rules on offensive language outside of the barriers we've already established.

(Edited by MirageGM at 11:20 am on 6/27/2022)

Thank you, Mirage. I was unaware of those instances, and in light of them agree that Johnny's argument is not a fallacy.

That being said, I'm not proposing anything be banned or any rules be changed. I'm just expressing that staff actively defending characters using it, and discouraging characters from being upset by its usage serves to alienate players.

That may be true, but I want to encourage players in general to think about what SIC represents in theme.

We all know there are trolls on the internet, and the phenomenon of keyboard warrioring making bigots feel emboldened to make offensive claims without fear of retribution due to the accessibility of making such comments.

Isn't SIC just that a thousand over? I understand that GMs using aliases on SIC to reinforce harmful, offensive words can feel like the staffers themselves endorsing these kinds of themes and discouraging fighting against them. But take an objective big picture perspective on the actual impact of any of these GM-led actions.

These burner aliases don't affect anything, nor do they stop a player from just straight up enacting physical consequences against an offending player. Just as well, the world of cyberpunk actively beats you down and often mirrors real-life shitty things like the internet, but amped up another few notches. If you disregard the bleed, none of these actions stop a player from doing adjudicating, and none of these burner alias opinions matter any more than some rando's on the internet's.

From an OOG logistic perspective, if none of these actions are against the rules, it's logistically nonsensical for us to micromanage what GMs do; and usually their objective is to just stir the pot and talk shit which is what we've established in the previous paragraph as acceptable.

Embrace the suck. It's part of the game, and like always, if a bunch of internet randos on SIC are causing you trauma.. Log off! Turn off SIC! There's a bunch of options to not hear it.

The presence of these things in the game isn't the problem, the responsibility lies totally and completely on the player here, and that has always been the expectation. I'm not trying to diminish or invalidate the things people feel when they are offended by these words, but trying to steel you for the fact that it is an aspect of this experience. It is part of the package.

You raise a lot of good points, Mirage, and I thank you for your well thought out responses.

To clarify, I'm not talking about random burner aliases that don't impact anything and, for all I know, could be other players alias hopping, but named and known NPCs putting sizeable bounties on characters for expressing their dislike of the word. While I realize that this behavior is likely in line with the NPC's personality, when you consider that NPCs are often used to set precedent, it gives the impression that players are OOCly discouraged from even RPing that their character takes offense to the word. Though, if I'm understanding you correctly, that isn't the case.

That being said, while I may disagree with it, your stance on the matter has been made clear, and it is certainly your stance to take, so I won't bother you folks with this topic any further.

I looked into what you're talking about.

That is always how that will play out and was a reasonable reaction within the expected duties and theme of the game. The IC world is not inclusive because of the OOC world.