Friday, June 03, 2005

Godwin's Law

It was fortuitous that I read this post by Orac right before I read this by MyDD.

First, read this, from Orac's post:
This all reminds me of Godwin's Law, which, contrary to the popular misconception of it, merely states quite simply:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.
In fact, it is a custom in many Usenet newsgroups that, when analogies or comparisons involving Hitler or the Nazis come up, the discussion thread is over and the person who first made the comparison should be declared the loser of any debate going on. States the Godwin's Law FAQ:


So, what this means in practical terms:


  • If someone brings up Nazis in general conversation when it wasn't necessary or germane without it necessarily being an insult, it's probably about time for the thread to end.

  • If someone brings up Nazis in general conversation when it was vaguely related but is basically being used as an insult, the speaker can be considered to be flaming and not debating.

  • If someone brings up Nazis in any conversation that has been going on too long for one of the parties, it can be used as a fair excuse to end the thread and declare victory for the other side.
Then read this by MyDD:
Now, while I personally think comparisons to our current government and Nazi Germany are absurd, offensive and based in ignorance, the growing national comfort with authoritarian and totalitarian measures cannot be ignored.
Two points:

  • If the comparison is absurd, offensive and based in ignorance, why did you make it? Do you conceed your absurdity, offensiveness and ignorance?

  • Do you agree that it is appropriate to invoke Godwin's Law?


BTW, your argument is absurd, offensive and based in ignorance, even without the Nazi reference. I think The Wandering Mind said it well:
First of all, the institutions of law enforcement and defense may be authoritarian, but they are subject to the controls of elected officials. They are directed and funded by democratic institutions, and subject to their oversight. And while people have confidence that the police and the military can do their job when needed, confidence does not automatically mean total trust. People can have confidence in them, but also appreciate the need for such oversight. Therefore, a high confidence level does not automatically indicate a new comfort with authoritarian and totalitarian measures (i.e., a police state). It simply reflects the public's appreciation for a job honestly and well done.
The public trusts the military to do its job. That does not include taking over the government. The fact that faith in the military is higher than faith in the government would only scare an ignorant, anti-military hater without faith in the people of the country who manifest that faith.