Repealing Godwin’s Law

Dont mention the law

Don't mention the law

I mentioned Godwin’s Law in the last post. It’s an interesting law – originally coined by Mike Godwin in 1990 to address the trend of usenet users throwing Hitler into arguments.

Originally expressed Godwin’s Law read:
“As an online discussion continues, the probability of a reference or comparison to Hitler or to Nazis approaches 1”

The basic application of the law was that the first person to mention Hitler lost the argument.
Godwin has an interesting explanation of his side of the story here.

“Although deliberately framed as if it were a law of nature or of mathematics, its purpose has always been rhetorical and pedagogical: I wanted folks who glibly compared someone else to Hitler or to Nazis to think a bit harder about the Holocaust.”

“I understood instantly the connection between the humiliations inflicted there and the ones the Nazis imposed upon death camp inmates—but I am the one person in the world least able to draw attention to that valid comparison.”

The problem with people blindly accusing people of breaking Godwin’s Law is that they’re going by the letter and not the spirit of the law. This probably only happens to me, because I engage in frivolous discussion with art studenty type geeks people… the kind of people who know what Godwin’s Law is to begin with.

There’s another article on pretty much the same thing here. That argues the repeal on the basis that Hitler should be fair game as a test case in arguments.

“The rules of snippy online debates, though, are nothing compared to public discourse. The Anti-Defamation League has beaten the hell out of anyone who’s dared use a Nazi analogy over the last decade. ”

“Thus, despite all efforts at regulation, the market has repeatedly decided in favor of the N-bomb. There simply isn’t any other tableau, in history or fiction, that offers the same variety of evil and oppressive examples as the Third Reich. Why compare some propaganda to 1984 and some slaughter to Srebrenica when you can double down and link both of them to Nazism?”