Through good fortune or perhaps bad fortune, my most popular flavor text is also one of which I’m most proud. I had studied the use of the chiasmus in writing as a way to give an idea resonance and power. In a chiasmic phrase, two words are repeated in reverse order. For instance, Lord Byron wrote:
“Pleasure’s a sin, and sometimes sin’s a pleasure.”
The words Pleasure and Sin are reflected in opposite order in the second half of the phrase. The human mind finds chiasmic phrases more pleasing and memorable, similar to rhymes.
Not only did I enjoy the challenge of writing these mirrored phrases, but I was delighted to have published one with not two repeated words but three. Upon the release of the set and the card, I shared it with my friends with delight. They in turn praised the writing, though it provoked no great attention and was soon forgotten.
Until June of 2020, when I saw the card shared widely online with the flavor text highlighted. Often those talking about it did not even play Magic cards, and they certainly did not know I had written it.
George Floyd had just been murdered, and riots roiled the streets. The card and the flavor text struck a chord with the nation’s consciousness.
Now I wish to be clear on one point. Writers will often take the perspective of characters with whom they disagree. They craft voices which are not theirs and opinions that are not their own. That is not the case with this card and this flavor text.
I believe riots are a valid and effective form of protest. As Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” The destruction of property is the last resort to catch the attention of a society that values commerce above all else. And any violence done in riots is inconsequential compared to the greater harm inflicted on people through systems of inequality, white-collar crime, and, specifically, white supremacy.
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