Context. Or, no you don’t get to apply your Internet niche knowledge to me doing my job. :>

[EDIT: I made tweaks to the below entry as I inadvertanly diminished the symbol’s importance outside of its use by the Nazis. My point on the post is not really specific to the swastika, I could have written as much about the word "Fag" being a cigarette in the UK. However one should strive to be accurate so I made some adjustments.]


Tonight I got asked one of those questions that only my job can apparently engender, namely “Hey, I’m not a genocidal hater of Jews but I really love the design of the swastika because its actually used by numerous religions, can I use it as my Call Of Duty: Black Ops logo? SWASTIKAS ARE AWESOME.No really, someone asked me this as a serious question on twitter.  So I of course replied, “no, of course you can’t, we’ll ban you.”




You know the type I mean.  They’ve read an article that’s contrarian to some position widely held, or they’ve found some obscure fact that contradicts common interpretation.  Some of them claim to have known it as innate fact, others claim it to be widespread common knowledge taught to every single person in elementary school. Of course, usually neither is true at all. Most of them are just contrarians.  They would never dare to wear a swastika openly, but they love to argue about how the world has “misunderstood” this symbol. Or they view any opportunity for human interaction, no matter the appropriateness, to push their point. You know, like you do. 

Under some religions, the specific design of the Nazi swastika is certainly not unique to the German Nazi Party.  In some cases, it can be interpreted to mean unity depending on how it is oriented. But somehow, (I know, calm yourself) the prosecution of an entire world war in the 20th century co-opted that symbol for western civilizations into a symbol of evil and hatred. Let’s be clear: no educated human on the planet looks at the swastika symbol on a video game service in “the year we make contact” and says “oh, that symbol has nothing at all in any way to do with global genocide of an entire race and, even if it did, one should totally and reasonably ignore that because it’s a symbol that was stolen or coop-ted from religions.” (If you want to know more about this topic, the wikipedia entry for it is fairly comprehensive.)

Well, no educated human on the planet that is, unless we’re talking about the Internet. Because according to the Internet, certain orientations of the swastika symbol was stamped on all money, food, foreheads, temples, and just about everywhere any reasonable person could find it.  And the Nazi’s effectively won world war two if anyone promotes banning the Nazi orientation of the symbol. I exaggerate of course, but the tone of some of the people’s points made it seem as if it was somehow political correctness gone too far to note that use of the swastika on our service is not allowed. It was bizarre.

Indeed, my twitter stream was filled with people stating that Xbox LIVE should equally ban the star of David, the Christian cross, and yes I am not kidding, the infinity symbol because under various niche interpretations of those symbols, they are as evil as the swastika symbol and I should apply ethical relativism to all symbols on Xbox LIVE to respect all viewpoints because of the United States First Amendment.

Even better? The argument that because the single player of the game is rated mature, the online experience should allow for all manner of horrible genocidal viewpoints. I know the symbols might show up in games, but that’s content that you know that you are getting, because it is rated content.  It’s there as part of the experience, not making a statement.  Using it as your emblem is different.

No really. 

I hate to do this Internet,  I really really do, but let me lay out some level headed reality.

The Xbox LIVE profile and in game content you create is accessible by everyone.  You do not have the context inside of it to explain your long winded contrarian view that your pithy text that violates the Terms of Use or Code of Conduct is actually intended to change people’s minds about a commonly held understanding.

It’s not political correctness, it’s fundamental respect. If you think the swastika symbol should be re-evaluated by societies all over the Earth, I think that’s great.  Your Xbox LIVE profile or in game logo, which doesn’t have the context to explain your goal, is probably not the right place to do that.  And by the way, that doesn’t just go for the Swastika, it applies to many other symbols as well that my team does indeed take action on when we see it.


Yes we can have the discussion in other venues about the double meaning of various terms, something my team does everyday.  But for many topics, its kind of a no-brainer.


TL;DR: If you see offensive symbols in Call of Duty, Black Ops, report them using the in game option and they will be taken care of.  If you want to argue that swastikas are actually AWESOME, go to another forum.  On Xbox LIVE they are not allowed. :>

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