Looks Like Scrabble's Next Move Is Against Slurs

Offensive words may soon be disqualified from game play, per Hasbro and players association
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2020 9:30 AM CDT
Looks Like Scrabble's Next Move Is Against Slurs
This May 16, 2015, photo shows a contestant competing in the first round of the 2015 North American School Scrabble Championship at Hasbro headquarters in Pawtucket, RI.   (Stew Milne/Hasbro via AP)

Scrabble competitors may soon have more than 200 words taken out of game play, after recent protests and attention to the Black Lives Matter movement renewed a longtime debate about the n-word and other racial and ethnic slurs, profane terms, and scatalogical references. Mashable reports that the North American Scrabble Players Association is on the verge of having its advisory board vote on whether to disallow 226 offensive terms from tournament play. "I have felt for a long time that there are some words in our lexicon that we hang onto in the mistaken belief that our spelling them with tiles on a board strips them of their power to cause harm," wrote NASPA CEO John Chew in a June 20 letter to members, laying out many of the pros and cons he's heard on nixing slurs from game play.

A spokeswoman for Hasbro, which owns the rights to the Scrabble board game in North America, tells the New York Times that the company will change the game's official rules "to make clear that slurs are not permissible in any form of the game." The company also says the players association had "agreed to remove all slurs from their word list for Scrabble tournament play," and although Chew had noted a vote from the group's advisory board would be coming soon, he seemed to agree. "It is the right thing to do," he said Tuesday. The list of words under consideration for removal can be seen here, though with each word's "letters rearranged into alphabetical or reverse alphabetical order in order to obfuscate it from the casual reader." Much more on what Chew calls a big "wedge issue" here. (More Scrabble stories.)

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