Microsoft Explains Swastika Ban on Xbox Live

In one of the more awkward pieces of news this week, Microsoft’s Stephen Toulouse details the instant ban rule for the usage of personal in-game swastikas. The issue occurred when an Xbox Live user contacted Mr. Toulouse to ask if he could use a swastika for his personal emblem in Call of Duty: Black Ops. The response was pretty expected:

“no, of course you can’t, we’ll ban you.”

However, the Xbox Live community didn’t seem to agree with this rule and many cited the usage of swastikas as a religious symbol in many eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. The bickering became severe enough that Mr. Toulouse had to write a long response to the firestorm that erupted:

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.”

Regardless of what your take is on this subject, he certainly does have a point with how the symbol is portrayed by the mainstream these days. He also goes on to state:

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.

Xbox Live being a forefront to tolerance and civility? That’s like Top Gear America suddenly being fun to watch.

Stephen Toulouse Blog