The Courier-Mail

‘No place for racial slurs’ in Scrabble family


SCRABBLE fans are furious after the game’s owner banned them from playing racial slurs.

Mattel, which owns the rights to the game outside North America, has removed from official lists 400 derogatory terms it believes have no place in a family game.

Mattel has refused to publish the list, but the word checker shows that the banned terms include epithets against black, Pakistani and Irish people.

The ruling, which follows a similar move by the US rights owner Hasbro, affects competitio­n-level Scrabble, which is played by thousands of people at internatio­nal tournament­s.

The move has split the community as players rebel.

Three prominent members of the World English-Language Scrabble Players Associatio­n quit in protest because they felt that playing a word was not insulting in itself.

Darryl Francis, a British author who has overseen official Scrabble word lists since the 1980s, said he resigned because he said that Mattel had forced the changes upon players.

“Words listed in dictionari­es and Scrabble lists are not slurs,” Mr Francis wrote.

“They only become slurs when used with a derogatory purpose or intent, or used with a particular tone and in a particular context.

“Words in our familiar Scrabble word lists should not be removed because of a PR purpose disguised as promoting some kind of social betterment,” Mr Francis wrote.

Mattel said that its interventi­on, which is the first time it has sought to remove words, was political.

Ray Adler, the global head of games, said that it was a direct result of the Black Lives Matter protests last summer.

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