In 2020 Magic: The Gathering banned seven cards due to racist or offensive content. But I don't understand the inclusion of the card Stone-Throwing Devils on that list. It just shows a bunch of demons jumping over a fence and throwing stones. What is the problem with it? Everything on the web just includes it on the list of banned cards but doesn't explain why.
I am not convinced that anyone has ever used the phrase "stone-throwing devil" to refer to Palestinians, however throwing stones is unquestionably associated with Palestinian protest (Palestinian Stone-throwing), perhaps especially with the First Intifada.
It has been 30 years since the first Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, exploded onto the scene in the occupied territories.
The prevailing images of unarmed Palestinians throwing rocks at fully armed Israeli troops and military vehicles, which clearly showed the occupied and the occupier, were covered with unprecedented interest by international media.
Stories from the first Intifada: ‘They broke my bones’ (emphasis added)
Indeed, the act of throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers has become a symbolic act of defiance and resistance for the Palestinians. The juxtaposition between boys and men armed with stones against the Israeli military has drawn comparisons to biblical foes David and Goliath.
Like the kaffiyeh, the checkered Arab scarf that Palestinians sometimes use as a shield -- against tear gas, and to hide their identities -- the stone has become a symbol of their struggle.
Why Palestinians Throw Stones (emphasis added)
So, in the contemporary (American) imagination, there's already some connection between stone throwing and Palestinians.
If that connection doesn't feel obvious, also remember that the card was printed in Arabian Nights, which is set in an imaginary Arabia - so these are Arab stone-throwing devils.
Although the connection with Palestinian protestors - intentional or not - is pretty clear when you consider the above, it's not as clear what kind of statement the card would be making. That said, if there's any statement, it's probably something negative. The card is black, which is typically (though not exclusively) the color of the most evil creatures; there's the fact that they're called "devils"; there's the flavor text:
Sometimes those with the most sin cast the first stones.
None of this seems very nice to me. But as long as I'm editorializing, even if no statement were made, the mere fact that this card evokes an ongoing, often passionate political debate would be reason enough to take a very cautious stance. Why would a company that produces consumer goods want to get into that hot water?
While sources are sparse and unofficial, it appears to be because of the name of the card itself. The term “stone-throwers” or “stone-throwing devils” is used as a derogatory name for Palestinians or Muslims.
This particular card was banned because "stone throwing devils" is an old slur for muslims.
What I found is that "Stone throwers" is a derogative term for Palestinians, especially kids.
I believe that @Juhasz's well-reasoned answer lacks full context. Arabic spirit creatures ("djinn") are often depicted as throwing stones to pester or kill humans, and this card seems to be a reference to that. Use of the word "devils" is likely to (a) differentiate this creature from the rare "djinn" and "efreet" cycles and (b) emphasize the Biblical pun in the flavor text.
It seems clear now that the card was banned not because the phrase is a Victorian-era reference to the Stoning of the Devil (as some people have claimed) but rather because the historical context in which it occurs makes it seem to be a reference to Palestinians. However, I believe that this reading of the card is ignoring the more obvious historical context from Arabic mythology.
I have gone into more detail on the English.SE site with this answer.
I've never seen "Stone-Throwing Devils" nor have any special information on the controversy, but for what it's worth, I get it. Remember that the full context is:
The card comes from a pack titled "Arabian Nights."
The name of the card is "Stone-Throwing Devils."
The card text is "Sometimes those with the most sin cast the first stones."
So the card can already be interpreted as referring to someone in Arabia known for throwing stones. For some people, that's the Palestinians; for me, it suggests the Stoning of the Devil so it suggests all Muslims in general. Not explicitly; just, like, "hey reader, remember that thing you know? let's just keep it in mind as we read this card."
So on top of that, the card text is a direct allusion to the Christian Bible. As DavePhD says, it's a play on John 8:7. The meaning of John 8:7 is basically "You shouldn't throw stones at sinners, because you also are sinful (and btw, obviously, let's think about Jesus)." The meaning on the card is basically "These guys throw stones at the good guys because these guys are sinful/evil (and btw Jesus)." At this point it doesn't matter if you've been primed to think of Palestinians or Muslims-in-general or maybe even just the broadest possible Orientalizing "Arabian Nights" setting. It's problematic to say "hey these dudes in Arabia (whoever they might be)? they're evil (and btw Jesus)."
The other "insensitive" card whose image is blocked from this particular deck is "Jihad." Initially I was a bit puzzled, because "Army of Allah" feels like a title with basically the same problem, and "Army of Allah" wasn't blocked.
But then I looked at "Jihad"'s effect: it's basically "pick a color, and make whites more powerful until they succeed in eradicating that color." Again, not necessarily the worst choice of words by itself; but when you put multiple "questionable" things onto the same card, eventually the scales tip toward "hey, this specific card is unusually problematic."
In "Jihad"'s case, I suspect the race-war subtext would have been a huge mental leap in 1993 — "Arabian Nights" was merely capitalizing on the success of Aladdin (1992), and had no inkling that a decade later a lot of Americans would be talking about "clash of civilizations" and contrasting "Islam" and "the West" in explicitly racial terms where the word "white" on a card had a greater chance of being read as suggestive. Notice that these cards were banned for being in questionable taste for the 2020s, not necessarily for the '90s.
The card says:
Sometimes those with the most sin cast the first stones
This is a clear reference to the Bible quoting Jesus as saying:
"Let him that is among you without sin, cast the first stone at her"
As evidence that the card could be considered offensive to some Christians, see this Christian Gaming review of Magic the Gathering:
it's use of Christian themes and images are poorly handled and missused