The makers of the popular Scrabble-like smart phone app Words With Friends apparently believe the word ‘Nigger’ and ‘Fagot’ are offensive, but other words like ‘Queer,’ ‘Dyke,’ ‘Kike,’ and ‘Wetback,’ are not.
According to the game’s rules, the app does not accept words that are “derogatory words or racial slurs.” But SFGN found that many derogatory and highly offensive words can be used while playing the game.
The N-word and ‘Fagot’ aren’t accepted. But other words like ‘Queer,’ ‘Dyke,’ ‘Kike,’ ‘Wetback,’ and ‘Mulatto’ are accepted. The word ‘Kike’ is an extremely offensive term for Jews, while ‘Wetback’ is considered a highly offensive term to describe people of Mexican descent. In recent years ‘Queer’ has become acceptable to some in the gay community but the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation media reference guide says the term should usually be avoided.
“Traditionally a pejorative term, queer has been appropriated by some LGBT people to describe themselves. However, it is not universally accepted even within the LGBT community and should be avoided unless quoting or describing someone who self-identifies that way,” the guide reads.
There doesn’t appear to be any logic behind which words they’ve chosen to ban. Some words may be accepted because they have alternate non-offensive meanings like ‘Queer,’ ‘Dyke,’ ‘Pansy,’ and ‘Colored.’
However other highly offensive words like ‘Kike’ and ‘Wetback’ are only used in one context: to degrade other people. SFGN could find no consistent logic behind WWF’s rules. WWF’s parent company Zynga did not respond to a request from SFGN submitted through their website for an explanation of the policy.
Scrabble has had its own controversy with offensive words dating back to 1996 after more than hundred derogatory words were removed from its Official Scrabble Players Dictionary. However, avid Scrabble players were enraged and some threatened tournament boycotts. In order to quell the controversy a second dictionary was created, the Official Tournament and Club Word List, which included all of the removed words minus their definitions.
The Scrabble app allows players to choose which dictionary they want to use.