By now you may have heard of the outrage sparked by news reports that the board game Scrabble was going to change the rules and allow the use of proper nouns. It rose to a level high enough that Stefan Fatsis took to the digitized pages of Slate to restore order, clarifying that it was a Scrabble spin-off that will allow the use of proper nouns, and not the game that Americans have grown to love. Fatsis was sure to point out that the foreign Scrabble will not even be available in North America. That's a relief. Our porous borders screen out offending board games even while they let terrorists and drug-traffickers through.
Apparently, a wide swath of America finds the notion of proper noun usage in Scrabble absolutely scandalous. To which I can only reply: balderdash!
I think that in a nation that calls itself free if a person purchases a board game they ought to be able to use it in any manner they see fit, provided it doesn't infringe on the freedom of others. If consenting adults in the privacy of their own home want to allow proper nouns in their Scrabble games, they should be able to. Acronyms? Sure. Abbreviations? Go for it. An entire game consisting only of Inuit words for snow? Knock yourself out. I realize this board game libertarianism puts me well to the right of that rotund monopolist Rich Uncle Pennybags, but so what. I fully expect Ron Paul to rally to the cause any day now.
The reaction to this potential change was chilling and bordered on sinister. The only thing missing was a Senator from Wisconsin asking people if they currently use or have ever used a proper noun during a game of Scrabble.
Is this really what we have come to? We free ourselves from the oppression of inherited monarchy, and it works so well we just keep going. We destroy civic and religious bonds that have sustained us for generations and what are we left with? The petty tyrannies low-level rule-setters. Given the response to the idea of this change, I wouldn't be surprised to find that more American Catholics observe Hasbro's prohibition on proper nouns than the Church's ban on contraception. I can think of no surer sign that we are a doomed nation.
Moses thought he knew a little something about law-giving, with his stone tablets and his "thou shalt nots". What did he know? If you want to make a rule that people will follow, it's apparently better to print it in English, French, and Spanish, in tiny script, on low-quality paper, title it "How To Play", fold it over three or four times and include it in a board game. Because then everyone will have to follow it without question.
Those who think the use of proper nouns in Scrabble is an abomination are little more than tyrants. And tyranny must be opposed, in whatever form it might take. Can a standoff between a peaceful non-conformist group who plays Chutes and Ladders in reverse order and jack-booted government agents, black helicopters and all, be far off? If so friends, I know on which side I will stand. They can take my Scrabble letter tray when they pry it from my cold dead hands!