Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Party Poker's prejudice

Party Poker, a computer gaming program that allows users to bet real or 'play' money against other users online, has recently disappointed me. For no apparent reason to me, Party Poker has disgraced my religion of Judaism. Here's the deal:

In Party Poker, players can type messages for everyone sitting at their table to see. As a seemingly responsible program, the game does not allow for profanity in these messages, replacing words like fuck or asshole with XXXX and XXXXXXX. People do try to get around this system and succeed. Players will type or @$$hole and the game does not censor it.

No big deal. That's the world we live in.

I was watching my roommate Brad play Party Poker this morning - we play for 'play' money - and I noticed the conversation he and others at his table were having in the text box below the table. One of the player's screen name was "BigNose###." I asked Brad to ask the guy if he was Jewish. I am and I was curious if this person was perpetuating a stereotype. I'm not saying I don't make fun of my religion on occasion because I do believe it's important to be able to laugh at almost all aspects of life, but to some degree, perpetuating those types of stereotypes irks me.

Brad typed it out: "Hey BigNose, are you Jewish?"

The text appeared in the text box: "Hey BigNose, are you XXXish?"

Zoom in on the blue text to see the word "shit" censored. This online gaming program apparently thinks "Jew" is also unsuitable to be displayed. Posted by Hello

What? Brad and I both looked at each other puzzled. It censored "Jew." What for? That's not what I would define as a bad word. Yeah, it censors words like dick, cock, shit, fuck, bastard, and homo, but why Jew? When did that become a bad term?

At that point, I couldn't care less about BigNose. What the hell was Party Poker trying to say by censoring Jew? Brad typed in "Christian" and "Muslim" to test the game. Both words appeared without censorship.

I'm not saying Party Poker is anti-Semitic, but I think perhaps there is a notion out there that Jew is some sort of derogatory term. I know people will use it when calling a friend cheap or when someone tries to nickel-and-dime them, and I don't appreciate that. If you call me a Jew, however, I'll say "yup." I am. I have nothing to hide. I'm Jewish and proud of it.

To think that the term for a person of my religion is now some sort of derogatory term greatly disturbs me. What kind of connotations does that word bring with it now? I don't know. I don't know why the people at Party Poker feel it's necessary to cover up the word Jew. It didn't cover up "Hebrew" or "Judaism" when Brad entered them in. So what's the deal? If anyone can explain this to me, please let me know when the term Jew stopped referring to someone of Jewish beliefs and began meaning something negative. Until then, I'm proud to be a Jew regardless of what Party Poker might do.

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