A lot of attention has been placed on Patrick Hoban's actions as of late. This has to do with the fact that such a high-profile individual could so something so (in my view) low and disgraceful. Hoban is a person whom many people look up to as a Yu-Gi-Oh role model, and he generally sets a good example. However, I am here to show you why he set an atrocious example through his actions at ARGCS Fort Lauderdale, and why his argument which he uses to defend himself is quite flawed.
Firstly, I'd like to agree with him on the point that he did not cheat. Even Julia Hedberg, an extremely respected individual, said that what he did not constitute cheating. Hoban went so far as to quote her saying this in his article. However, he completely ignored what she said right after, pointing out that his actions were not cheating. Namely, Julia quite rightly classified Hoban's action as a "dick move" and that she was disgusted by it. Mr. Jim McMahan also echoed this sentiment.
Now that we have agreed that your actions were legal in the Yu-Gi-Oh sense, let's see if they were ethical. My view, and the view of many others in the community, is that your actions were completely wrong. Let me quote you first and point out the most incorrect assumption in your argument.
"According to the rules, both lying to your opponent about having Mirror Force set and lying to your opponent about how you intend to side deck are legal. The rules of the game are exactly where the line between what is okay and what is not okay must be. When you enter a tournament, you are entering into an agreement to uphold the rules of the tournament and nothing more."
Yes, Patrick is right about that. However, he is forgetting about at least two other relevant contracts which we are always bound by. These are the social contract (defined as the contract we make with people around us in order to form a civil society) and the legal contract (defined as the contract we make with the laws in the country we live in). What Patrick did was a horrendous violation of the moral contract that binds us all as human beings and distinguish us as a species.
Now, I'd like to expound a bit on the former contract. When you enter a tournament, you are also expected to follow the rules of the civil society that we live in. For example, the Yu-Gi-Oh rule book does not say that you have to be pleasant when playing against an opponent. It does not say that you should shake his/her hand after a match, or say 'good game'. It does not say that you should even give him/her the respect he deserves as a fellow human being. The rule book, as you point out, does not say that you are not allowed to lie or deceive your opponent.
Since these particulars are not explicitly denounced in the rule book, does that mean that we are entitled to carry them out so as to earn an "advantage"? Of course not. When we sit and play a game of Yu-Gi-Oh, we expect to play it out in a way that is agreeable to both parties. You pointed to the the fact that we practice to give ourselves a distinct advantage when we play. This is a completely agreeable premise; it is essentially saying, "Well, let's both practice and let the best man win!" Fine with logic, fine with most in the community, and fine with me.
What you did, however, was a perversion of this. Your logic is "Well, let's sit down and deceive and trick each other. Whoever comes out victorious should win." These are not agreeable preconditions for the game of Yu-Gi-Oh. Why? Because they are unfair. It is not the premise upon which we play this game. We play this game expecting a fair fight. Nobody would agree to this game if the preexisting conditions were unfair to begin with.
The social contract, to which we are all signatories, does say that we ought not lie and deceive. Why? Because our society would be better if we didn't. This applies to our small Yu-Gi-Oh community as well. Wouldn't we all be better off if we treated each other with respect? Wouldn't we better off if we did not deceive one another? It seems to me that we would. Therefore, when your actions do not reflect this, they should be condemned.
In order to make another point, I shall quote you again-
' “I have Mirror Force set.” It is perfectly legal and acceptable to say this to your opponent, whether or not you actually have Mirror Force set. If you don’t have Mirror Force set, you are lying to your opponent to gain an advantage. That’s okay, but this isn’t? If you say this is illegal, how are you going to say bluffing is legal at all? Where is the line between the two? That’s certainly a slippery slope.'
The two principles used in your comparison are entirely different, and I will elucidate the line between the two. When you bluff, that is an acceptable action within the context of the game. As I said before, this is an agreeable precondition which everyone playing a card game would be fine with. However, you did not "bluff". You deliberately misled your opponent by violating an agreement made (outside of the game) between the two of you. In the bluffing instance, both players agreed that a bluff is a fair part of the game. In the Djinn instance, you actually broke an agreeable contract which you and your opponent accepted. In one instance, you acted within the laws of an established principle. In the other, you violated a fair contract which you made with your opponent. See the difference?
Finally, I'd like to end with what I think the right course of action should be taken. I sincerely think that actions like this ought to be punished. The rules of Yu-Gi-Oh should not have allowed you to do this in the first place. That means that the scope of the rules should be expanded to also prohibit injustices like the ones you committed. The rules should be changed to accommodate for inappropriate behavior, and people who have broken them should be censured. (Similar to what happened with the Nazi generals after WW2. I am not by any means calling or comparing you to a Nazi. I am just pointing out that laws were made to prevent actions like the ones they committed in the future, and the people who had committed actions like that in the past were punished.)
Remember this: a good legislator writes laws in order to enforce not just the technicalities but also the spirit of a law. If, for instance, we write a law saying that women should be paid the same as men for the same job, we imply that women ought to be equal to men. The spirit of the law is also to be considered. You broke the spirit of the 'laws' of Yu-Gi-Oh, which aim to ensure a fair game.
To sum it all up, your actions were wrong because you violated our social contract. Yes, you were legally able to lie and deceive your opponent. However, just because you legally 'could' does not mean that you morally 'should'. Just imagine the horror that would be this community if everybody followed suit and lied/deceived their way to victory. That is why you should stop justifying your actions, admit responsibility for them, and encourage people not to do things like that again. You broke our moral code, which is far worse than breaking any Yu-Gi-Oh rule.
I really mean that last sentence. You were not and probably will not be punished for your actions in the legal sense. However, the potential damage you have done to yourself is far worse. You broke the moral law, which everyone holds in their heart. Now, when anyone who knows of this anecdote sees you they will see the scarlet letter that you have. They will think of you as an untrustworthy, Machiavellian person who broke the moral law which we are all bound to.
P.S.- This is not to serve as an indictment of Patrick. This message goes to anyone who did something like this, or to anyone defending those actions. I have the utmost respect for Patrick, but I really feel like he's got this one wrong.
Your humble servant,