Thursday, December 23, 2004

The freedom to play

There are two board games coming under fire this Christmas shopping season. The first is an old story, one we have heard about before: Ghettopoly. The second is a newer game called Grow-op.

The first is being seized by customs for various "legal infringements". The second has not yet been seized or banned, but is coming close.

Ghettopoly is basically being seized for being politically incorrect. This is a real farce. It is a protected parody of Monopoly(c) that is allowed and does not violate trademark law. Certainly there has been no court ruling to that effect. This is America. We don't seize board games because they make fun of the ghetto. Everyone in the ghetto makes fun of the ghetto. Why can't people outside the ghetto do the same? Pathetic.

Grow-op is a bit more insidious. Though it has not been banned, there is talk about getting it off shelves using anti-tobacco marketing laws, or whatever. People higher up are getting edgy. There are two problems with this. First, it definitely is protected speech. Talking about buying and selling fictitious drugs is certainly OK. Making something amusing out of it certainly is too. Secondly, this goes to the heart of legal reform. If we wanted to change the laws about Marijuana, which I certainly do, there must be as many legal platforms available as we can have. Banning this game is a last ditch effort on the part of the old-guard to keep marijuana and everything about it evil. It is not. The sooner we realize it as a society, the better off we will be.

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