Not all cries of oppression, or exclusion, or discrimination are equal.
The latest cry of “Help! Help! I’m being oppressed!” in a conservative voice comes from YouTuber MTGHeadQuarters, known primarily for opening packs of Magic cards under a camera and doing so with a large run of Fat Packs and older sets.
The initial complaint shows, quite typically, a complete lack of understanding of Free Speech. Jeremy, of MTGHeadQuarters, opines that the social media spokespeople for Magic the Gathering that Wizards of the Coast chooses to support are not selected for their skill, their reach or their insight, but rather because they’re all “outspoken about their ‘progressive’ political beliefs.” Jeremy asserts “…there isn’t a single libertarian, conservative minded or outspoken advocate of free speech on any panel [he’s] ever seen.” Even though, he continues, tons of players are conservative, libertarian or advocate free speech.
It needs to be clarified at this point what is and is not free speech. Or rather, what is and is not an infringement on free speech. Free Speech is a concept in the American Bill of Rights, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech (…)”
The important thing to remember about freedom of speech is that you are free from the government abridging your speech. A company dictating what kind of speech is allowed or not allowed on their website, in chats related to their videos, or even to interact with on social media is not an infringement on free speech. Individuals blocking you on social media because they disagree with your politics or your comportment, or the specific memes you use is not an infringement on your free speech.
But there’s an interesting question here. Hobbies are about fun, and they should be inclusive. Anyone who wants to play should be able to, so long as they do not represent a danger to those around them. So, therefore, of course the Magic community should welcome conservatives and libertarians. But on the other hand, as we can well see in the current election season, conservative politics have a very real correlation to bigotry, xenophobia, and exclusion. In some states, conservatives won’t even let some people pee in peace. Is it, therefore, exclusionary to ostracize outspoken conservatives who are making others uncomfortable? Is it exclusionary to only approve as spokespeople for your brand people who you know will not make the minorities you’re trying to reach out to uncomfortable, who you reasonably expect won’t suddenly go off on a rant about “queers and feminazis?”
Personally, when I sit down to a game of Magic, I don’t need to be told I’m going to Hell for my sexuality or identity, which fortunately has never happened. I’d also take a very dim view to sitting down across from someone in a Confederate Flag, All Lives Matter or pro-Trump t-shirt. Only the first may have happened, but given that I can’t recall, clearly it wasn’t a big deal.
I don’t believe that excluding bigots or people with extremely xenophobic beliefs makes one any less inclusive. There is a debate you could have about whether pro-social justice slogans and shirts should be allowed if you’re not going to allow pro-conservative slogans and shirts.
Jeremy’s video raises several other points, including touching on us evil SJWs making a big to do about the art of Triumph of Ferocity being a rape scene, (which I don’t see, Liliana looks pretty empowered there, but I wasn’t aware of that controversy, let alone part of the discourse), and Grand Prix finalist Zach Jesse being banned due to another player bringing up Jesse’s criminal record as a rapist who served “three months of an eight year plea deal.”
These are all very common, very old, very beloved chestnuts of the crowd of nerds who take umbrage at attempts to build a more diverse subculture, one which is not dominated by white, straight, cis-male voices. They’re just coming to Magic.
You can advocate Free Speech without being offensive. Randall Munroe and Ursula Vernon are just two brilliant examples of such. You can advocate Free Speech with only offending people who seriously are getting their nose out of joint over things they’re not forced to see, as Larry Flint showed. You can even be a staunch libertarian and beloved by millions of liberals and held up by a famously liberal company, and in that case your name is Hunter S. Thompson.
But being told that your sex or race historically have oppressed or benefitted from the oppression of others, being told that Western Culture is deeply, deeply steeped in a culture of sexual coercion and violence, being told that what you said was offensive, or not the kind of meme that is desired on a company’s video chat is not exclusion. It’s not bigotry, and it’s not oppression.
It’s being told you’re an ass, and there’s the door.