Would you be happy with this reponse to a complaint about "deaf and dumb".

I was playing Masquerade (which is like charades) at the weekend and was gobsmacked to get a card to act out that read “A gorilla that knows deaf and dumb language”. The phrase “deaf and dumb” is highly offensive and nolonger in use, so I decided to complain.

This is my email:

I had no response within 24 hours so I gave them a call. I asked for a copy of the company’s complaints procedure and was told they don’t have one (!). I asked when he would be responding to the complaint and he said “When we get around to it”, and when pushed said “5-7 days”.

He said that this game has been around for some time and this obviously got overlooked. And that some of phrases were sometimes “a bit tongue in cheek”. I pointed out that this isn’t tongue in cheek, it’s offensive. He said they hadn’t had any other complaints, and I pointed out that that’s probably because Deaf people don’t play masquerades/charades. It’s a bit easy when you’re fluent in sign language.

He asked (in an annoyed tone of voice) “Well, what are you expecting us to do?” and I said “Apologise and withdraw this phrase immediately”. Below is the response.

First of all, the phrase “deaf and dumb” wasn’t acceptable even in 1986. Second of all, there is no recognition that the phrase is unacceptable. Thirdly, there’s no assurance that they won’t use it again, just that they’ll discuss it.

So urban, am I being petty and oversensitive over nothing, or should I pursue this further? And if so, what should I do?

Yes you are (since you choose to pose a “closed” question :slight_smile: ), no you shouldn’t, and hence “nothing” by default.

“Deaf and dumb” has been the vernacular for a mighty long time and among those who haven’t been properly educated as to their sensibilities it is no doubt used in all innocence. Object if you like to the use of “dumb” as “stupid”, as you might to the use of “lame” as in “ill-thought-out and unworthy of respect”, but not in their proper context in either case. Similarly, encourage games manufacturers to show greater sensitivity in future, but were you expecting them to recall all copies of a game in print and issue a correction? While you’re at it, call Mark Twain’s estate - “nigger” is used all through Tom Sawyer for a start. (He also used “deaf and dumb”, and I can tell you where if you like.)

Choose your battles. This is a losing proposition for you, but in the long run it’s not big deal.

What’s next, recalling all copies of Tommy?

Well, you have an apology, sort of. I kind of doubt they are going to recall all previous editions of the game to replace a phrase on one card.

If, as they said, the game has been out for twenty years and this is the first complaint they have received, maybe it is not offending all that many deaf people.

My advice would be to identify what you want out of all this - ranging from an acknowledgement that your complaint has been heard thru a commitment that they will remove the phrase from future editions (if any) thru a full-page apology in The Times and jail time for the CEO pf the company. Then adjust the amount of effort you want to put into this accordingly.

If it were me (it’s not) I would figure I had made my thoughts known and leave it at that. But then again, I am not deaf and I am familiar with use of the term “dumb” to mean “not able to speak” rather than “stupid” and don’t have a strong response to it. YMMV, of course.


Where did I ask them to recall all the current games? This is a task on one card on a board game. It’s hardly classic fucking literature. And it’s incredibly easy to say “Sorry, we won’t be using that phrase in the future”.

And if Mark Twain was around today, I doubt he’d be using the phrase “nigger” or “deaf and dumb” either. We’re not talking about something that was written a long time ago, we’re talking about a board game that’s currently being manufactured.

Or, because someone used the phrase "deaf and dumb"in the past, should we just be fine with anyone using it nowadays?

You’re not familiar with the term “dumb” meaning “stupid”? To bring you up to date, the terms spastic and retard are also offensive nowadays. Just for your reference.

It’s pretty simple – if the game is offensive, don’t play it. No one is forcing you to play it are they?

I’m sorry, that was a bit aggressive. This is just a bit of a hot-button issue for me.

The game is not offensive. It’s charades. Even I don’t get offended by people playing charades.

The phrase used on one of the cards by this particular games company is offensive and ignorant and should be challenged and changed.

Excellent post.

Perhaps because, being dumb, they have no way to communicate their outrage. :smiley:

And “spastic” and “retarded” are not offensive like “nigger” is. Then again, nothing is really offensive like “nigger” is.

In response to the OP, I would say, “Having preserved your objection for the record, move on.”


Deaf people don’t play charades. It’s a bit easy when you’re fluent in sign language.

No shit. Next time, just say up front “PS - No-one answer unless you agree with me”, and then you’ll save a lot of trouble.

Over and out.

Suggestion Rip up the card in your deck. Just to remove this obvious extreme irritation from your presence.

I find it to be an offensive phrase and while I wouldn’t expect them to do some massive recall or public apology to the media I probably would expect the company to give you a personal apology and have them remove it from future editions of the game.
If they just blow you off (which it seems like they are doing) I might let someone from one those sites you linked to know about it.

…then light the pieces on fire, piss on the ashes, and mail them back to the company.

Am I the only one who has never heard the term “Deaf and Dumb Language” as a substitute for “Sign Language”? Is that weird to anyone else?

You might consider dialing it back a notch or six, especially in any future dealings with the company. You don’t want to make it too easy to dismiss you as one of those over-exited types that everybody deals with from time to time.

Hint, hint.


I don’t think you are being petty and oversensitive over nothing, and it would be nice if they apologized to you or thanked you for bringing the matter to their attention rather than treating you like a kook. But on the other hand, the card has been in use for 20 years, and you are the first to complain, so I’m not sure that the company is wrong to dismiss your complaint.

I’d let it go. The amount of effort required to get more response from the company is probably not worth it.

I thought when they said “we apologize”, they were actually apologizing. It didn’t seem like a blow-off letter to me. The phone call was a bit huffy, but I doubt the person fielding phone calls is anyone in a position to offer a solution to the complaint.