Godwin’s Law

Godwin’s Law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies): “As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

Written by Mike Godwin, an internet law attorney, this adage refers to a common argument made in internet forums called reductio ad Hitlerum. Godwin’s Law is value neutral- it does not indicate whether it is bad to bring up Nazis or Hitler, just that it becomes extremely likely.

However, Godwin developed this “counter-meme” in response to over-use of comparisons to Hitler and the Nazis in early online discussions, and it now functions as a tool to reduce this over-use. “It was a trivialization I found both illogical (Michael Dukakis as a Nazi? Please!) and offensive (the millions of concentration-camp victims did not die to give some net.blowhard a handy trope). ”

Cliff Stoll once said: “Godwin’s Law? Isn’t that the law that states that once a discussion reaches a comparison to Nazis or Hitler, its usefulness is over?”

I feel that it is time to introduce Godwin’s Law to the Czech. Certain commenters, when they tire of my relentless logic *wink*, have developed the habit of invoking Hitler and the Nazis to prop up weak arguments. While one would expect to find this tired comparison in threads about women’s reproductive health (as certain types will always think of reproductive-age ladies as little Hitlers), I have been surprised to find posts about tolerance or racial equality bring on the Nazi-comparisons from those who oppose my views.

From Wikipedia:

… there is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically “lost” whatever debate was in progress.

Godwin’s Law is hereby instituted! Only in posts about the holocaust, Nazis, or Hitler, or in posts where genocide/antisemitism/WW II/German history is the expressed topic, will Godwin’s Law be suspended.

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5 thoughts on “Godwin’s Law

  1. Ha ha!

    I would also like to nominate another rule, that when people tell you that answering their arguments somehow violates their freedom of speech or is suppressing discussion.

    Oh wait, it already happened on this thread.

  2. Well, I’m only a liberal by accident, not by intention, but regardless it appears you have read the Secret Liberal Manual!!! You now know that we all LOVE censorship and use it to silence dissent! Just like the NAZIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. YAWN.

    Nazi is soo 2002; don’t you know that Jonah Goldberg changed the game last year by declaring us Liberals to be Fascists!?

    You just try to tell me to respect other’s opinions and differences,

    You FEELING FASCIST!

  4. Ah yes, the Goldberg counter-meme. I think that only made a splash among his 5 closest friends. It doesn’t seem to have wormed it’s way into the collective psyche too effectively.

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