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WotC Dungeons & Dragons Fans Seek Removal of Oriental Adventures From Online Marketplace

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Kaodi

Adventurer
I am not quite sure how we got to a Thatcherian "There is no such thing as society," thing going on here. In my own post I said that they were abstractions - that is not exactly the same thing as saying the idea of a community is incoherent. Mainly you just need to be wary of allowing the idea of "community" to do work it is not equipped for in moral arguments.
 

Quite something. That is. Also a contradiction. How would individuals see themselves as part of those communities. If those communities do not exist.
Not talking sense that is.
Because we act as though the community exists. The same way I go on a hunt for a unicorn, acting as if one did exist.
 


Completely different. To argue both in the same breadth is ludicrous.
You do realize tribalism is a problem. Yes.
I believe tribalism is a tremendous problem.

I hypothesize communities might an emergent property of human emotional attachments/interaction/something else (I haven't figured this out yet). It is something that can be described, but not something real.
 
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Azzy

Newtype
That's because I'm not presenting substance. I'm asking substance to be presented.
I don't believe you.

I'm auguring that racism is poor reasoning that must be corrected.
I agree that it needs to be corrected.

Many (which I perceive you to be among, but I may be wrong) are arguing for the removal as a track to reduce racism. I don't see how removing art reduces racism without correcting poor reasoning in the first place, but if that poor reasoning was corrected, there would be no reason to remove said art.
Personally, I don't thin it should be entirely removed. I'd rather that an essay on all the things that's wrong about and how such things have been weaponized against other people b put on the website and in the front of the pdf, and all profit be given to a charity that promotes understanding the historical issues that Asian Americans have faced in this country. However, if it were taken down, I still wouldn't care. Removing it from sale does not remove it from existence—all the physical books still exist, everyone who bought the pdf will still have their pdf, and I'm sure pirate sites will still have it available. The difference is that, now, WotC won't be profitting from the racism that is inherent in the book.

And like it or not, racist art is still hurtful regardless of the intention of the artist or whether everyone knows that racism is completely stupid and wrong. Removing it from public view doesn't make it go away, but it does stop it from being a constant reminder of racism. I mean, I think that any reasonable person would have a problem if a movie theater decided to start playing Birth of a Nation.
 

I believe tribalism is a tremendous problem.

I hypothesize communities might an emergent property of human emotional attachments/interaction/something else (I haven't figured this out yet). It is something that can be described, but not something real.
Around for a long time. Have been those communities. Before our time. For a long time.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I don't believe you.



I agree that it needs to be corrected.



Personally, I don't thin it should be entirely removed. I'd rather that an essay on all the things that's wrong about and how such things have been weaponized against other people b put on the website and in the front of the pdf, and all profit be given to a charity that promotes understanding the historical issues that Asian Americans have faced in this country. However, if it were taken down, I still wouldn't care. Removing it from sale does not remove it from existence—all the physical books still exist, everyone who bought the pdf will still have their pdf, and I'm sure pirate sites will still have it available. The difference is that, now, WotC won't be profitting from the racism that is inherent in the book.

And like it or not, racist art is still hurtful regardless of the intention of the artist or whether everyone knows that racism is completely stupid and wrong. Removing it from public view doesn't make it go away, but it does stop it from being a constant reminder of racism. I mean, I think that any reasonable person would have a problem if a movie theater decided to start playing Birth of a Nation.
Depends on how they release it. Commercial release no but what do you do with it? Tuck it away in some university library where only elites can view it?

My university had more than a few things that utterly fail purity tests but they're used in history papers or politics.

Who's allowed to watch it and how?

I think the old D&D stuff should be available. Put a disclaimer on it perhaps.
 


And like it or not, racist art is still hurtful regardless of the intention of the artist or whether everyone knows that racism is completely stupid and wrong. Removing it from public view doesn't make it go away, but it does stop it from being a constant reminder of racism. I mean, I think that any reasonable person would have a problem if a movie theater decided to start playing Birth of a Nation.
If you know racism is stupid and wrong, why does it hurt?
 

pemerton

Legend
Benign racism is still racism.
Comparing OA to minstrel shows is inapt.

OA does not depict East Asian people as inhuman or subhuman. The back cover copy, which is probably the worst past of the book, buys into "mysterious East" bullsh*t. The interior text doesn't. Mostly - not completely, but mostly - it is presented from the persepctive of the setting it is depicting, rather than presenting East Asia as an object for Western exploitation or curiosity.

The presentation of Kara-Tur has two versions of China and two versions of Japan. I can't straightforwardly date the two versions of China. The two versions of Japan are c 13-14th centuries CE and then about 300 years later. So there is no implication that East Asia is static or unchanging - common elements in eg Hegel's accounts of East Asia.

It's people's prerogative to be offended by it. I assume that goes without saying. If people want WotC to stop selling it, they can call for that. But if someone is going to compare it to minstrel shows, well I will disagree with that.

Yes, I have read it. I own it, and have used it in the past. And I agree that the book was not a a work of racial hatred or intended to cause offence. However, it apparenty does cause offence, it perpetuates some racist stereotypes (as the minstrels shows did)
Minstrel shows are works of racial hatred. Their function is to establish and perpetuate a conception of Black people - particularly but not exclusively African Americans - as subhuman, inferior, lacking in agency.

The depiction of people in OA does not have these features.

gives entirely incorrect perceptions of Asians and Asian cultures
I don't think this claim is true either. It does not give entirely incorrect perceptions of Asian cultures. It is not a work of history, obviously. But here are some perceptions it gives which are correct: that China, many centuries ago, had a bureaucratic form of government, powerful enough to support paper money; that Japanese popular religous practice often integrates elements of Buddhism and Shinto; that popular culture in China includes various sorts of ascetics who can work miracles and/or perform great feats of physical prowess.

Just because a work isn't intended to be racist doen't mean that it isn't.

<snip>

not acting or suggest tnot to act in some way to acknowledge the ills of OA is the same as allowing its racist material to perpetuate.
I haven't expressed any opinion on whether OA is racist.

I think it is - obviously - not as racist as LotR. Nor as racist as Gygax's PHB and DMG (I'm looking particularly at the treatment of half-orcs) nor his MM (with its Sumatran rats, Japanese Ogres, Draco Orientalis Sino Dux, and Rakshasa which originate in India - the only part of the real worls which is also part of Gygax's AD&D gameworld is Asia, as a source of these various creatures).

They describe how that such charactures and woeful reductions have been used to justify such behavor. That's the legacy of these tropes that they can't be disentagled from. If you don't know what I mean about imperialistic behavior, read this, this, and this. Even now white nationalists and white supremacists contine to use these old stereotypes, tropes, and psuedo-science to justify their worldviews.
If you read OA you will see that it does not support or even in any clear way intimate imperialism, "white mans' burden" or social Darwinism. You can find the last of these in Gygax's AD&D MM - before we get to "humanoids" there are "cavemen" and "tribesmen" (the latter have a 50% chance to be cannibals). In OA - and as I already said above - the cultures are presented as viable and worthwhile on their own terms and not only in the context of their relationship to some imagined Europe or North America.

Whether these varous works - Gygax's AD&D books, LotR, OA - should all be withdrawn from the market I leave as a call for others to make. I already own copies of all of them and will not be disposing of them. From the point of view of RPGing techniques, OA is the best AD&D work published.
 

pemerton

Legend
If you know racism is stupid and wrong, why does it hurt?
I haven't read every post of this back-and-forth between you and @Azzy but this is a silly question.

Racism hurts because it makes people who are subjected to it feel sh*t. It cuts them off from social goods. When it is manifested through violence then the hurt is very literally physical.

There's a lot more that could be said in reply but it's easy enough to find said by people who are more eloquent than me. One of my favourite essays is by Patricia Williams, called "The Pain of Word Bondage", but there are many many writings that will answer your question for you.
 

I haven't read every post of this back-and-forth between you and @Azzy but this is a silly question.

Racism hurts because it makes people who are subjected to it feel sh*t. It cuts them off from social goods. When it is manifested through violence then the hurt is very literally physical.

There's a lot more that could be said in reply but it's easy enough to find said by people who are more eloquent than me. One of my favourite essays is by Patricia Williams, called "The Pain of Word Bondage", but there are many many writings that will answer your question for you.
Is it the racism that hurts or the being cut off from social goods, physical violence, or other bad behavior?

I see racism as a misstep in epistemology used as a justification for bad behavior (ranging from micro to extreme).
 

Azzy

Newtype
Depends on how they release it.
Well, surely you're going to run into corner cases and such, but the example was about bog standard, comercial movie theater just showing this movie like it was any other movie.

Commercial release no but what do you do with it?
Have it shown in context of what it represents and how it brought a revival of the kkk in the early 20th century which led to further harm to African Americans. It's definitely something that could be shown in studies of race relationshpis and racism in the US.

Tuck it away in some university library where only elites can view it?
University students are "elites"? That kinda a creepy train of thought.

But, I don't know. Maybe have available to be requested at a public library. Of course, if that's the case, I'd make sure that the disc its own started with a note regarding its racism and such, and also include a short documentary on racism in the US.

My university had more than a few things that utterly fail purity tests but they're used in history papers or politics.
Sounds about right. It's a prober place for them, too, as they are available with the context of their time and society and serve as a powerful tool in teaching about the issues that surrond it.

Who's allowed to watch it and how?
See above.
 


If you are pierced in the knee by an arrow, does it stop hurting if you know that it's an arrow? (And have to give up your career as an adventurer.)
As I said before: Is it the racism that hurts or the being cut off from social goods, physical violence, or other bad behavior?

I see racism as a misstep in epistemology used as a justification for bad behavior (ranging from micro to extreme).
 


Zardnaar

Legend
Well, surely you're going to run into corner cases and such, but the example was about bog standard, comercial movie theater just showing this movie like it was any other movie.



Have it shown in context of what it represents and how it brought a revival of the kkk in the early 20th century which led to further harm to African Americans. It's definitely something that could be shown in studies of race relationshpis and racism in the US.



University students are "elites"? That kinda a creepy train of thought.

But, I don't know. Maybe have available to be requested at a public library. Of course, if that's the case, I'd make sure that the disc its own started with a note regarding its racism and such, and also include a short documentary on racism in the US.



Sounds about right. It's a prober place for them, too, as they are available with the context of their time and society and serve as a powerful tool in teaching about the issues that surrond it.



See above.
It's elitist if the general public can't access it or know it exists.

Some Roman literature for example was hidden from the general public. To read it you would have to be an upper class white man with a classical education and can read Latin.

And of course who got to learn latin and do the old grand tour?

Or the King of Naples was allowed to view Roman excavations but the ladies if the court were not. The hoi polloi couldn't either.

I've never seen Birth if a Nation, don't particularly want to. But I might one day for whatever reason.

Most people don't go to university. I can walk in off the street and read the books in the library but I can't get access to the video/audio stuff without the student UD card.

Mass shooting here last year the footage was livestreamed on YouTube. It is basically banned but they have locked it away in the national archives. I suppose some people might be allowed to view it and future generations might have a different PoV.
 
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Azzy

Newtype
Comparing OA to minstrel shows is inapt.

OA does not depict East Asian people as inhuman or subhuman. The back cover copy, which is probably the worst past of the book, buys into "mysterious East" bullsh*t. The interior text doesn't. Mostly - not completely, but mostly - it is presented from the persepctive of the setting it is depicting, rather than presenting East Asia as an object for Western exploitation or curiosity.
"Mostly - not completely, but mostly" Thanks for the laugh.


The presentation of Kara-Tur has two versions of China and two versions of Japan. I can't straightforwardly date the two versions of China. The two versions of Japan are c 13-14th centuries CE and then about 300 years later. So there is no implication that East Asia is static or unchanging - common elements in eg Hegel's accounts of East Asia.
Not really part of my argument, but okay. Also, having implementations of two different time periods at the same "present" time doesn't really demonstrate that it isn't static.

It's people's prerogative to be offended by it.
That's an interesting choice of words. It implies that people getting offended actually have a choice about what offends them when, in reality, they don't.

I assume that goes without saying. If people want WotC to stop selling it, they can call for that. But if someone is going to compare it to minstrel shows, well I will disagree with that.
Well, you do you. But point of fact, the same arguments defending OA here could also equally apply to defending minstrel shows. And just because one is intentional racism and the other is unintentional doesn't make the racism any less real.

Minstrel shows are works of racial hatred. Their function is to establish and perpetuate a conception of Black people - particularly but not exclusively African Americans - as subhuman, inferior, lacking in agency.

The depiction of people in OA does not have these features.
Right, the racism in OA has other issue—those tied to Western stereotypes of Asians rather than Western stereotypes of Africans. Something that should be obvious.

I don't think this claim is true either. It does not give entirely incorrect perceptions of Asian cultures. It is not a work of history, obviously. But here are some perceptions it gives which are correct: that China, many centuries ago, had a bureaucratic form of government, powerful enough to support paper money; that Japanese popular religous practice often integrates elements of Buddhism and Shinto; that popular culture in China includes various sorts of ascetics who can work miracles and/or perform great feats of physical prowess.
Okay, we'll ignore these troubling areas over there and instead look at this.

I haven't expressed any opinion on whether OA is racist.

I think it is - obviously - not as racist as LotR. Nor as racist as Gygax's PHB and DMG (I'm looking particularly at the treatment of half-orcs) nor his MM (with its Sumatran rats, Japanese Ogres, Draco Orientalis Sino Dux, and Rakshasa which originate in India - the only part of the real worls which is also part of Gygax's AD&D gameworld is Asia, as a source of these various creatures).
First, "not as racist" isn't really helping your case. Secondly, you don't think OA's reductionist depiction of Asian people and culture and its use of bad stereotypes is as racist as Sumatran rats (which was lifted from a Sherlock Holmes story), gold dragons, ogre magi, and rakshasa? That's certainly an opinion.

If you read OA you will see that it does not support or even in any clear way intimate imperialism, "white mans' burden" or social Darwinism. You can find the last of these in Gygax's AD&D MM - before we get to "humanoids" there are "cavemen" and "tribesmen" (the latter have a 50% chance to be cannibals). In OA - and as I already said above - the cultures are presented as viable and worthwhile on their own terms and not only in the context of their relationship to some imagined Europe or North America.
You're crossing streams here. That was a separate conversation with someone else in reference to the noble savage trope and why it's problematic. It's a different subject than OA being racist. Though, the trope in question can also be applied to the barbarian class in OA and UA to varying degrees, so YMMV.

Whether these varous works - Gygax's AD&D books, LotR, OA - should all be withdrawn from the market I leave as a call for others to make. I already own copies of all of them and will not be disposing of them.
Then you have no dog in this fight. Cool.

From the point of view of RPGing techniques, OA is the best AD&D work published.
Problematic issues aside, it really isn't that great a sourcebook. I think it's best feature was the inclusion of NWP, and also the attempt to introduce non-Western play. In a lot of ways it was a dumpster fire in regards to game mechanics, like UA. Most of the classes were power creep over original classes and it didn't play well with standard classes (not to mention that some of the classes really didn't even need to exist). The Comeliness stat. Both OA and UA are guilty of that unnecessary addition. I put it on the same level as UA. It didn't help that it fell apart just like UA.
 
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Azzy

Newtype
It's elitist if the general public can't access it or know it exists.
In a better world, higher education would be available to any that wanted it.

Some Roman literature for example was hidden from the general public. To read it you would have to be an upper class white man with a classical education and can read Latin.

And of course who got to learn latin and do the old grand tour?

Or the King of Naples was allowed to view Roman excavations but the ladies if the court were not. The hoi polloi couldn't either.
Couldn't have those wimmin see those naughty murals in Pompeii

I've never seen Birth if a Nation, don't particularly want to. But I might one day for whatever reason.
The internet is your friend.

Mass shooting here last year the footage was livestreamed on YouTube. It is basically banned but they have locked it away in the national archives. I suppose some people might be allowed to view it and future generations might have a different PoV.
Oh, yes, it shouldn't be obliterated from existence. It shouldn't be profitted from and if needs to be accompianied with a rebukement, IMO.
 

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