Can you please stop with Cards Against Humanity



We NEED to behave in ways that we know are taboo, in a situation where we know that there are not consequences for doing so. Right now, at least in some parts of society, the “OMG avoid offending people, especially if they are people who as a group have suffered inequality” urge is driving us to a lot of self-censorship and institutionalized censorship.

Being sensitive is great. Arbitrary thought control is not so great. We should all practice thinking things we’re not supposed to think, because it will turn out that some of the societally unacceptable things that we’re not supposed to think will turn out to be things tomorrow that we were embarrassed not to have thought in the past. (E.g., there was a time when homosexuality and child abuse were thought of as being very much in the same category by mainstream society, even though today most of us would consider lumping those two things into the same category to be offensive.) Yes, most of the time the things we think will be things that aren’t good, but if we don’t practice thinking things that are taboo, we will never also stumble upon the ones that it will turn out we should have been thinking.

The “licensed fool” of Renaissance tradition was the one who was allowed to say the things that people were thinking, but that society didn’t allow people to say. Stand-up comics sort of serve those roles today, although the social media shame squad is making it hard even for some of them. Games like this also serve that role. There is an explicit “this is not serious, sniggle at naughty things”. It’s OK. Just do it. Recognize it for what it is. But telling people “Just Stop”, and arguing social harm when people are saying things you don’t think they should be saying, creates the greater social harm of making freedom of thought into something that is bad and needs to be squelched.

Also: it’s just a game. People are giggling about it. Get over it. There are real things in life to be offended about, but if you look for every small thing that could be offensive and get all worked up about it, all conversation will turn into “more offended than thou” finger-pointing that will do little other than convince everybody to just keep their mouth shut, and not to actually discuss and evaluate (and potentially change, for the better) their opinions.


Playing Cards Against Humanity is kind of like playing Grand Theft Auto. GTA’s known as the game where you can hump a hooker, run her down, and steal her money – which, yes, you can totally do. CAH’s full of unbelievably offensive cards, it’s true – it’s sort of what made them famous. But just as there’s so much more to GTA than hooker-murder, there’s so much more to CAH if you want there to be. The offensive cards can be hilarious, and not because they’re “naughty”, but because of the unexpected leaps into surreal craziness they provide. But the non-offensive cards are almost always the funniest. The last time I played CAH at a party, we were falling on the floor, eyes streaming with laughter when someone played “A box of biscuits, a box of mixed biscuits, and a biscuit mixer.” You had to be there.


It was only a matter of time before BB realized that CAH was Something Being Enjoyed For Unapproved Reasons. Tiresome Puritans are tiresome.
I’ve never played CAH, but just ordered it.


Next time I play Cards Against Humanity it’ll be with my grandmother because she’s a ______________________________.


But that ignores the classic distinction between punching up and punching down. Your classic court jester was making fun of the people in power, not the peasants and foreigners (usually). That’s the distinction that eluded people who tried to defend Andrew Dice Clay and Carlos Mencia, and that’s the distinction here. Me, I think that CAH may be useful as a litmus test to determine which of your friends are closet assholes.


I enjoy the bit where you admit that you are biased and agree with whatever they say. That’s nice journalism. Speaking of which this sort of click bait garbage brings down the respect of the site. Everyone i have ever played this game with loves it. Can there be any moments in our lives that we can just release all societal stigmas that force us to behave to the sterilized standards of decency that are shoved down our throats in this social media run world? Can we be allowed to be dirty, lewd, and silly without jackwagons telling us it is wrong to have fun? I’m sure that better games exsist but its cheap meaningless fun that we should be allowed to have without being told it’s wrong.


For a lot of the “offense police”, that’s a feature, not a bug. Make it socially impossible to say anything but utterly harmless and nurturing nanny speak, and there will be no troublesome or offensive speech to trigger or offend.


“Can there be any moments in our lives that we can just release all societal stigmas that force us to behave to the sterilized standards of decency that are shoved down our throats in this social media run world?”

I’m sorry, but that reads like “I want to be a jerk” said in a fancy way.


I feel there’s a kind of brinkmanship involved with these “look how superior I am by being much more sensitive than you” articles, to the point where it gets to “here’s why the thing you like is morally dubious and you are a bad person for liking it”. It really feels like trying to bully the world into a better place.

These illustrations really nail the point home, let’s laugh at the stereotypical white, long haired, glasses wearing nerd who is spouting the bullshit “transgressive” nonsense we’ve projected on him. Because a cigar is never a cigar, and is always representative of the deeper corrupt nature of people today who feel that they can make jokes about serious issues.

CAH is over the top and outrageous, and that’s why it’s so funny. As @rknop mentioned, the taboo nature of the game is what gives it it’s power, and having a space to explore this is very important. I would never hold the game up as some kind of saviour, necessary component of society or even an important release valve that serves this purpose, but it’s still in the same neighbourhood. The implication that the world would be a better place if people A) did not enjoy this game or B) the game didn’t exist is pretty disingenuous.


In the privacy of your own home i think you are allowed to be a jerk if you want. We spend a lot of time in today’s society making sure we don’t offend people so it’s nice to get loose at your house with friends, family, cards, and beer.


What I’ve found kind of interesting lately is how CAH still has such a reputation for being such a transgressive game full of jokes you couldn’t tell elsewhere, when… that’s really a pretty small amount of the cards. The more recent expansions seem to be shying away from stuff that opens the way for racism/sexism in favor of dark humor and absurdity. A few weeks ago, my friends and I played an hour-long game. I kept my eyes open, but there weren’t really any offensive jokes being made. We were too busy with boxes and sex goblins (with carnival penises), generally.

I’ve been thinking of going through my set and removing the cards that are pretty much designed to set up racist/sexist/whatever jokes. When we play, it’s with a pretty diverse group of people, so there are definitely some in there that lead to a lot of groans and, “Really, you guys?” comments. I suspect I’d only need to get rid of about 20-30 cards in a stack that’s now about as tall as my forearm.


I’m pretty damn liberal, but I still think the potential to stay stupid shit is important. Like nungesser said, fixating exclusively on the fact you can kill hookers in GTA misses a lot of the commentary of GTA. (And don’t get me wrong, GTA still has plenty of problems).

I can somewhat agree with the authors’ argument that Cards Against Humanity’s ‘open’ sandbox is skewed toward taboos. GTA is definitely in that realm. The sandbox lets you kill infinite hookers, but it’s not like you can open infinite lemonade stands for kids or help old ladies across the street. GTA mandates engagement with brutality and violence if you choose to engage with it at all. Cards is similar in that respect - you’re going to get a card with sex stuff on it within a few hands, pretty unavoidably.

But I think it’s a stretch to argue that the game’s potential for nasty engagement with taboos is its only way to engage with them. And the author’s arguments against anonymity remind me of the same ones against Yik Yak or anonymous chat - yes, there is the possibility to say stupid, racist/homophobic shit on such services. But I don’t think the answer to that is ‘Shut it down, shut it down forever!’ And while I know that ‘It’s just a joke, deal with it, queer’ is the first line of defense for the bigot/sexist, humor still has incredible value in that it allows discussion that woulld have been hard to approach otherwise (just ask Amy Schumer/Jon Stewart/John Oliver/Amy Pohler).
The same platform that allows Chris Rock also allows Michael Richards, but fuck, so does the human experience. Crucially, I don’t think Cards Against Humanity makes Michael Richards the only possibility, or even the highly-intended-wink-wink possibility the article implies. He’s definitely there, no question, but he’s one of many options.

Beyond that, the authors of this article clearly has a major axe to grind, which makes it difficult reading. ‘I hate it because it’s shit’ is all we’ve got for this? I’m not impressed.


One can say something awful without also believing it, let alone defending it. If offensiveness is the problem, heck, let’s just watch some Itchy and Scratchy:


This. CAH can be used as an excuse to say offensive things, but many people play it without actually believing the content. The offensive stuff can be fun for people who genuinely object strongly to racism/sexism etc by way of making it ridiculous and surreal, or by lampshading nasty stuff in a fictional context; in addition to the large number of cards that are just plain surreal/weird/silly. Further, and this is the most important point, CAH isn’t like politicians or highly public figures promoting hate speech, it’s played between friends who know each other; who know how they feel about these issues and play the game as an opportunity to be ridiculous/make light of shitty situations etc.

A game of CAH isn’t a public forum where you’re subjecting 3rd parties to hateful speech, all participants consent willingly. You are going to get nasty types playing the game as an excuse to be racist or drag in people who don’t want to play, but that doesn’t fundamentally make the game an excuse for racism any more than nasty types on the Internet means we should demonise and shut down the Internet.


Exactly. Humans need to release the id now and then…used to be well understood in most cultures. Still is, by ordinary people.
CAH is only funny because we DO find these things awful. Please research “juxtaposition and humor.”


The really irritating aspect of this image is that it leaves out the part where many groups wouldn’t vote for that combo because it isn’t funny. Just because some people select pointlessly offensive combos doesn’t mean everyone will, and the combos that come out reflect the group playing. Literally any discussion I’ve heard about CAH aside from “You can make racist combos and use the game as an excuse!” talks about the absurd and ridiculous; sometimes it’s also offensive, but some people take joy in that because of how absurd or excessive it makes bigotry look, rather than the bigotry itself.


Real O.G. Pimp

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Kind of says it all really, doesn’t it?

If you’re finding that you have to self-censor all the time it says far more about you than it does about any standards ‘imposed’ upon you.


Well for one I don’t agree with the writer implying that the jokes or the humor is derived from inappropriate jokes/commentary that I wouldn’t make otherwise. I make fairly inappropriate jokes with my friends, nothing wrong with dark humor as long as you’re not being biased. And I rather like the cards game, it’s more of an excuse to bounce crazy nonsense off each other than to say taboo subjects.

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