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Reviews by Jim Kaplan

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Burn the Koran and Die, by Poster

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
Tedious, March 28, 2012
by Jim Kaplan (Jim Kaplan has a room called the location. The location of Jim Kaplan is variable.)
Related reviews: poster, one-room, short
Play it if: your understanding of the nuances of the Muslim world has the depth of a dessert spoon, and you enjoy reveling in this fact by playing one-note nonsense like this.

Don't play it if: you have a soft spot for troll-feeding, because a game this irritating is sure to provoke more people like me into writing unnecessarily long reviews.

I might not have bothered with this review had I only played the game.

I mean, yes, the satire is one-note (only Muslims will kill you for criticizing them in public, apparently). I mean, yes, the premise is unrealistic to the point of utter absurdity (a college student decides to take five tomes and burn them for no clear reason). I mean, yes, the overall tone of the game is one of self-aggrandizement, attributing free speech to the author's personal deity (Jesus, apparently) and a specific military subsection of a national identity (American soldiers), in spite of the fact that modern democratic ideas have their roots in, among others, philosophers (not soldiers) of revolutionary France as well as the (non-Christian) Hellenic world of antiquity.

No, what finally motivated me to actually review this game was the help file.

Firstly, the author gives thanks to Jesus for "a spiritual empire not dependent upon theft, slavery, lust, or murder". Rather bizarre, given the theft of land, enslavement of Africans and Native Americans, and mass murder that helped build the United States (I'm not sure how lust figures into U.S. history).

Secondly, the author describes the game as "a hard-edged satire". In a word: no. Hard-edged satire presents novel constructs that force its audience to re-think their perspectives. This offers caricature that will appeal only to those already in agreement with the author's views. It's not even as hard as the "Draw a Picture of Muhammad Day" exercise, which in and of itself was nothing more than a brief irritant as far as political activism goes.

Finally, and perhaps most insultingly, is the claim that the game was inspired in part by "a concern for the First Amendment". I don't doubt the author's support for the First Amendment. But censorship is only one of two ways to undermine it. The second is to destroy the integrity of communication. A considered attempt to respect the First Amendment would have resulted in a more complex game, and moreover, one which at least attempted to forge some basis in researched fact rather than general opinion. I don't mean to say that the underlying sentiment - that Islam is uniquely intolerant of criticism and has created a double standard for itself in Western society - is necessarily baseless in reality. In some areas, it is; in others, it isn't. But the game itself makes no attempt to acknowledge this.

The author writes, "My thanks also go out to those who understand and defend this right, no matter whatever else your politics." The irony is that the author has done something worse than not defending this right: the author has defended this right poorly, by offering subjective and simplistic propaganda - yes, propaganda - in place of the kind of considered and enlightening discussion that the First Amendment is ultimately intended to promote.

Had the author designed "Burn the Koran and Die" in mind with actually making a subtle point and substantiating it, I would gladly have called it a success, whether or not I particularly agreed with the point being made. As it is, I can't even call it that. Non-American, irreligious, and non-conservative as I am, I have to say that American conservatives deserve better material than this in the public forum.


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