Cards Against Humanity is a type of humor-oriented carnival space in which norms about appropriate discussion, and appropriate topics of humor, are reversed. It may be acceptable to relax the rules within this space, but there is little danger of what Leah fears is a “leakage” of these rules into everyday life, just as there is little danger that a jester would seriously try to become a pope in everyday life. The fact that a theology school would defend such orgies is a testament to the fact that they serve to uphold the establishment.
It is key that Cards Against Humanity is a highly self-aware game. This is apparent in the tagline (“A free party game for horrible people”) and descriptions: “Unlike most of the party games you’ve played before, Cards Against Humanity is as despicable and awkward as you and your friends.” By pairing the game and its brand of humor with words like “horrible,” “despicable,” and “awkward,” it shows, again, that these are things we should not laugh about, despite doing so anyway. This self-awareness is at the heart of every, “I know I shouldn’t find this funny, but…” statement. ”Virginia Tech Massacre” is funny in this “Opposite Day” world. It’s really not funny in other contexts or in the “real world.” This is also why it’s generally OK for Jews to make Holocaust jokes when it is more frowned upon for others to do the same—it is far more likely that the non-Jew would have less awareness of the consequences of the Holocaust than the Jew, and therefore the lack of self-awareness makes the attempt at humor far less palpable.
I welcomed 2014 with a game of Cards Against Humanity. While certain cards make me uncomfortable, as argued in the post, I don’t take the view that the game has or is able to corrupt me.