The lights are on
If you read that headline and think, "Duh, that's obvious," congratulations: You're not an idiot. For everyone else, Microsoft has made it expressly clear that if you use a swastika as your multiplayer symbol in Call of Duty: Black Ops, you will be banned from Xbox Live.
Xbox Live director of policy and enforcement Stephen Toulouse was asked via Twitter this weekend if players can use the swastika symbol in Black Ops by someone claiming to "just like [the] design." The debate that flared up when he answered in the negative inspired him to write a blog post on the topic. In the post, Toulouse addresses certain "Internet pundits" who argued that the symbol means more than the Nazi symbolism it's usually tied to:
"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.'"
He also defended his position as more than political correctness:
"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 not the right place to do that. And by the way, that doesn't just go for the Swastika, it applies to many other symbols as well that my team does indeed take action on when we see it."
Wrapping things up in the clearest way possible, Toulouse suggested taking the debate elsewhere if you want to avoid a ban: "If you want to argue that swastikas are actually AWESOME, go to another forum. On Xbox LIVE they are not allowed."
So there you have it, folks. No swastikas allowed. Perhaps the (hopefully very small) number of disappointed and offended parties in the audience can turn their energy toward creating anything else in the game's emblem creator.