Tag Archives: judging

Discussion Topic: The “M”-word

Welcome to another discussion topic. I enjoyed the feedback on the first one, so I hope for as much interest and participation on this one as well.

And, as before, because we’re talking about potentially not-awesome behavior, there may be some language that some might find offensive to follow.

I’ve heard a word used a few times in the German magic scene, and I’ve been trying to decide just how to react whenever I hear it. The word in question is “Mongo”, and it’s used fairly often by young people as a pejorative.

Here’s why I find it not-awesome: the first thing I thought of when I heard the term the first time (well, other than that it sounded like the villain from some Flash Gordon-esque serial), was that it was short for “mongoloid”, which us an outdated term to describe people who suffer from Down Syndrome.

And therein lies the problem: one of the Very Bad Things(tm) outlined in the IPG under USC-Major are “insults based on… disability,” which this clearly falls under. By that measure if one player calls another an “mongo” during a match, it’s pretty clear what we as judges have to do – separate the players and issue a Match Loss – or worse, depending on the behavior of the player in question.

The problem I have is that I had to think for a good amount of time before I even realized what the slur meant, and I wonder how many youths who use it actually know what it’s referring to. They could be easily forgiven for thinking it was short for “Mongolian” (not that that’s any better – see “based on… national origin” in that same paragraph), or dont even think it has any meaning whatsoever beyond “bad”. Does that change how we treat the infraction? (The answer is obviously “no” if it happens during a match – I leave it as an exercise to the reader why that is). But what about outside of matches? What if it’s between two friends? What if the word is used to describe cards, and not people. Is that USC-Minor then, or still Major?

And, most importantly, how do we educate the players that this isn’t something we want to see at Magic events, without necessarily jumping straight to the infraction (unless the situation is clear-cut, as in the example I pointed out above).

Or, if you’re a native German speaker, do you think the origin of the word is so divorced from public consciousness that we can’t really treat it as an insult based on disability anymore, in the same way that we don’t really treat “gyp” (as in “I was gypped!”) as offensive even though it comes from a slur used for the Roma people? (also, side note: don’t say “gyp”!)

I’d love to hear any feedback on the issue. Feel free to comment below, or write me an email at TimmyJohnnySpike@gmail.com, or tweet at me at @MTGViolet.

One last comment before I go, to put this all into perspective: at one of my local stores we have a player who has been coming to tournaments for years. He’s a really nice person, a good magic player, and well-liked by the community. He also happens to have be mentally challenged. I wonder, how would he feel if he heard that term used at a Magic event?

These issues aren’t just theoretical, they affect real people, real players. And that’s why they matter to me.