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Thursday, February 09, 2017

Political Correctness, defined.

In the aftermath of the presidential election, where one of the possible explanations for Trump's victory was as a reaction to extreme political correctness, I saw a lot of posts on social media which rather obviously tried to change the meaning of political correctness.  It is not political correctness that stops people from using racial slurs, spouting racial stereotypes, or making racist jokes.  It is common decency.

Let me cite an example of a racist joke: "You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent."

People who think political correctness has gone overboard are not trying to bring back jokes like this one.  In the real world, the person who made this comment (then-Senator Joe Biden) was rightfully criticized, and he apologized, although he saw no real world consequences (he was still considered a viable presidential candidate, and won election as vice president).

Before I provide my definition of political correctness, let me introduce you to a recent card from Magic: the Gathering's latest expansion.



The latest Magic world, Kaladesh, has a setting inspired by steampunk, but with an optimistic outlook.  The free flow of aether created an energy revolution that led to a time of great invention.  And this setting allowed the game to introduce a type of card they'd long desired to create, vehicles.  Vehicles are normally artifacts, but by tapping creatures with power X ("crew X"), vehicles become artifact creatures with power normally greater than X.  In the first set of the block, Kaladesh, vehicles had mana costs that roughly scaled with their power.

The second set of the block, Aether Revolt, introduced this evolution to vehicles.  Unlike previous vehicles, it's both big and cheap, but still very difficult to crew.  You can cast it early, but it won't attack for a while.  But it works with the set's new keyword, improvise, which lets you tap artifacts to help pay for spells.  And there are combos, with several other cards that can turn vehicles into creatures.  It's realistic in Draft to get this card and Siege Modification, which creates a 10/11 creature with first strike on turn 3.  That threatens to win the game by turn 4!

The card is an excellent design, appealing to the Timmy and Johnny demographics, working well in draft, and can be played in a Constructed deck that, while not top tier, can win games in a splashy manner.

So what does this card have to do with political correctness?  Look at the power and toughness when Consulate Dreadnought is animated: 7/11.  In terms of game design, 7 power is a good place, threatening to kill in three turns, and 11 toughness suggests a creature that will rarely, if ever, be beaten in combat.  The stats also are a callback to Inkwell Leviathan, a popular old card often used in Reanimator decks.

The numbers still don't strike you as offensive, do they?  Well, the other inspiration for the Kaladesh block is the Indian subcontinent.  So, to find offense, you'd have to link several things together.  You'd have to look at the card, which shows just a ship (no people, no convenience store), focus on two of the four numbers on the card (not its casting cost or crew cost), and link it to the stereotype that people like Joe Biden like to cite.

And as an example of political correctness, here is someone who found offense.  And he got an apology, though no offense was intended.

The most important thing for the designers and developers who create Magic: the Gathering is to make the best game play possible.  The numbers on the cards (casting cost, activation cost of abilities, power and toughness of creatures) have to be carefully balanced, lest they create an unfun play environment.  It is absolutely essential that the designers and developers not be constrained by someone finding offense in the numbers.

So here is how I will define political correctness.  I'll use language the far left should understand.

Political Correctness is finding offense where no offense is intended, and no offense could reasonably be inferred.
Political Correctness is the privilege of demanding others listen to your expression of offense.
Political Correctness is the power of forcing another to apologize for an offense they didn't make.

(As another example, I find the stereotypical Bond villain, a psychotic wealthy white businessman, to be offensive.  But no one believes they need to care what I think.)

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