Major dumbing down of a classic game

Sometimes, as in the Soviet-like Time magazine photo in the last entry, liberal society can only fantasize the human equality it desires. Other times it actually achieves it. It has achieved it, e.g., by allowing the mass nondiscriminatory admission of nonwhite Third-Worlders into white society, while simultaneously radically lowering educational and behavioral standards for whites. Liberalism reaches, or at least approaches, the goal of equality, not by raising up the “worse-off” to the level of the “better off,” which is, after all, impossible, but by progressively lowering the “better off” toward the level of the “worse off,” which is possible.

Once the entire cultural level and intelligence level of the society have been systematically lowered, other changes follow. Thus we read in The Daily Mail that the Mattel Corporation, which manufactures Scrabble, is fundamentally altering the rules of the game, making it much easier to play. Most importantly, proper names can now be used, which, of course, was never the case before. And given the fact that the only common culture in our debased society is pop culture, the use of the names of pop entertainers (the Mail gives the examples of “Beyonce,” “Jay-Z,” and “Shakira”) will become common in the revampled Scrabble, opening up the game to people who previously found it too difficult or boring.

I wonder how my late sister, who adored Scrabble, and was also a leftist, would have felt about this. She would have been infuriated at the change in the game, even denouncing it as an instance of egalitarianism run amuck, while not seeing that a lowering of standards such as this is an all-but-inevitable result of the fundamental changes in the make-up of our society that she supported.

- end of initial entry -

James P. writes:

The half-wits who would most benefit from the rules changes to Scrabble are the ones least likely to play the game in the first place. Those kinds of people play video games in which verbal proficiency is irrelevant.

LA replies:

I agree. I don’t think that the changes will make many non-Scrabble players into players. I suspect that the change is an effort by Mattel to seem less exclusive.

Jonathan W. writes:

How long before Mattel allows points for inner city slang?

ZvB writes:

I think this is no big deal. The notion that Scrabble has any hard and fast rules is absurd anyway, because people will always make up their own “house” rules. My family and friends had the rule that each player got one free challenge per game, in which you could dispute another player’s word without risking penalty to your own score. Sort of a mulligan for Scrabble. Other times we would allow proper names if they agreed with a predetermined theme such as movie titles, classical composers, or professional baseball players, etc. These of course were also open to challenge.

Lighten up, brausten!

LA replies:

I disagree. To allow proper names in Scrabble is to change the very nature of the game. Also I disagree that Scrabble has no hard and fast rules. The essence of the game is its rules, which are tough rules. It’s not an easy game. If every proper name under the sun is allowed, it becomes a different game.

P.S. telling me to “lighten up” is not an effective argument to make with me, given that that is what people always say to me, and that if I had followed their advice I would have written none of the things I’ve written.

So, if you want to persuade me, make a good argument. If you want to turn me off, tell me to “lighten up.” The surest way to get me NOT to lighten up is to tell me to lighten up.

Hannon writes:

Please desist in posting such horribly depressing stories back-to-back. The Melanie Phillips report was beyond belief, a record of astonishing simultaneous parallels between our countries. And then this Scrabble business. While the news leaves me speechless I can recommend this excellent book that gives the reader an inside look at the “Scrabble circuit”. Great stuff.

LA replies:
These are tough times. No way to avoid it.

Hannon replies:

It was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but “desist” is rather difficult to use in that way.

LA replies:

The tongue in cheek came across.

Hannon writes:

I hadn’t seen your previous exchange in this post. I’m with you. When people tell me to “lighten up” it typically brings out a “heavier” response. If they think that you are in such a state that you need to “lighten up” then wouldn’t said condition be obvious to both parties? And wouldn’t you want to let that person “lighten up” on his own terms unless you knew him very well?

April 7

David Winch writes:


Regarding the entry yesterday on dumbing down Scrabble, I would not normally point out a minor vocabulary issue in a blog, but on this specific thread perhaps I can note that the Oxford (11th edition) lists the word amok, with amuck as a variant, as a derivative of the Malay term amok, meaning “rushing in a frenzy”.

However, continues the Oxford, the adverbial phrase is to “run amok”.

Maybe your “run amuck” is an authentic Americanism, but if I were playing Scrabble, I would protest it.

David Winch
Editor, Geneva

LA replies:


I have in the past questioned myself on the spelling of that word and looked it up. As you can see here, it’s considered at least equal with amok; and I’m sure the Scrabble dictionary would ok it.

But, I must say, “amok” looks more like the meaning intended than does “amuck”:

frenzied as if possessed by a demon; “the soldier was completely amuck”; “berserk with grief”; “a berserk worker smashing windows”

amok, berserk, demoniac, demoniacal, possessed

insane—afflicted with or characteristic of mental derangement; “was declared insane”; “insane laughter”

I think I may change to amok.

Thanks for writing.

John P. writes:

This is awful, of course, but I suspect there will simply be those who continue to play “classic” Scrabble which will acquire a certain cachet of exclusivity.

How many of your readers are aware that the board game ‘Risk’ has two sets of rules? An American and a British version. The British version is harder and is viewed as tonier than the US version.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 06, 2010 01:05 PM | Send

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