American attorney and author Mike Godwin coined his eponymous law on Usenet in 1990. Godwin’s law (or Godwin’s rule of Hitler analogies) is an internet adage asserting that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1”; that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Adolf Hitler or his deeds. Promulgated by the American attorney and author Mike Godwin in 1990…. [There] is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that, when a Hitler comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever made the comparison loses whatever debate is in progress.
—Wikipedia’s article on Godwin’s Law
Becaue of that latter tradition of the law being used as a trigger for moderators to shut down discussion threads, there are many well-meaning people who believe (falsely) that Godwin’s Law is a statement of a logical fallacy. In other words, they believe that someone how the act of invoking Hitler is an actual invalidation of the argument being made. In a time when:
- actual neo-Nazis and White Supremacists have staged marches in our country at which other people were killed,
- and when neo-Nazis and White Supremacists have targeted Jewish people for death,
- where black people and others perceived as not-white or speaking up for the rights of not-white people are murdered by adherents of the alt-right,
- and where our own government is building concentration camps and house small children and even babies in them after illegally taking them from their parents,
…one often finds oneself being concern trolled by someone trying to derail one’s comments with invocations of Godwin’s Law. Which makes said de-railers either complicit with all the evil being perpetrated by the so-called alt-right or really stupid (sorry, there is no other word for it).
So this a reminder that Godwin himself, last year after the events of that Charlottesville neo-Nazi protest that resulted in injures and death, suspended his law:
We’re talking full-on fascism here, folks. Stop arguing semantics and let’s look for solutions. Also, if you have ever said, when contemplating the history of how the Nazis took over Germany in the 1930s, that you would never stand idly by had you been there. We are there now. What are you going to do?
A few other things that either didn’t make it into the Friday Five or come up after:
Pride Month Special: “One True Pervert In the Courtroom” – The Trial of Dale Jennings. Great piece by Boozy Barrister, a straight guy who occasionally explain legal things for those of us who aren’t lawyers.
9,000 barrels of bourbon fall in Kentucky distillery building collapse. Oh, the humanity!