[Max Temkin:] I hope that my blog post [about Dickwolves and rape culture at PAX] speaks for itself, I don't have a lot more to say on the subject. We really like PAX and want to keep going. Our sense of humor may be dark, but as people who have been bullied ourselves, we try very hard not to bully people with our jokes. We wrote the "date rape" card when we were less mature writers, and we removed it a long time ago.
Obviously the core of Cards Against Humanity is finding shocking or offensive things (historical or contemporary) and trying to identify a funny or absurd angle to make fun of. The goal of our game is to make people laugh, so we have be sensitive to the line between delighting people and upsetting them. If a joke is too upsetting to too many people, it gets cut.
Rape jokes almost always tip the scale to "upsetting people" instead of "delighting them." If I had to guess why, I would say that it's because about a quarter of all women have been sexually assaulted. Additionally, while nearly everyone recognizes that The Trail of Tears and Auschwitz were wrong, not everyone agrees that rape is wrong.
We're not here to tell you what kind of jokes you can or can't make. But Cards Against Humanity is our game, and rape is something we don't want to joke about.
Your first time with Cards Against Humanity, it’s not even about cracking jokes. Every time you flip a card, someone is laughing or groaning. “Win cards” emerge, in which a card is so profoundly offensive or strange, context is irrelevant. The second time, the shock value wears off. “Virginia Tech Massacre” still gets you a little bit, but soon, the card alone isn't enough. That’s when the next layer unfolds, and wordplay skills comes into play.
A real consistency to the jokes embedded on the cards becomes apparent once you’ve seen the full deck, too. Some of Temkin’s friends are still in Chicago, while others have jobs or graduate school elsewhere. Every week, though, they hop onto a Google+ hangout and hash out new cards.
There are no hard and fast rules for the process, and there isn’t a directive to be offensive.
“Offensive cards are fine, there’s no line that we won’t cross,” he said. “It just has to be funny. If you’re making people uncomfortable, it has to be in service of a great joke. If it’s making them uncomfortable and it’s not funny, if it’s just shocking, it’s not worth it for the game.”
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