Tuesday, April 21, 2009

85 Days to Godwin’s Law

I have to hand it to the neoconservatives who are (thankfully) now out of power. It didn’t take them long.

It only took them 85 days for Godwin’s Law to preside over public discourse on the internet.

Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Godwin’s Law, for those who don’t know, is a law of modern human discourse. There are lots of versions, but the one I like is the one that attempts to quantify the phenomenon.

Godwin’s Law: “As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”

Now this law was constructed in 1990 when the internet was in its infancy, and the mode of exchange of the day was a “Usenet.” But now internet discussion has mushroomed to include just about every form of human information exchange there is in existence. Godwin’s Law, by all rights, should be applied accordingly

There is a corollary to Godwin’s Law that is sometimes mistaken for the actual law. Here is Corollary 1 to Godwin’s Law:

“Once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically "lost" whatever debate was in progress.”

Neoconservatives were falling all over themselves last year calling Barack Obama a socialist. The trouble is, the term “socialist” doesn’t have the bite it once had. Not since education became publicly funded. Not since Social Security was enacted.

And Medicare.

Socialist programs all.

And it certainly didn’t help warn off the voters, did it?

So if it doesn’t work trying to associate Barack Obama with far leftwing politics, why not change tactics and associate him with far rightwing politics?

Why not compare Barack Obama to Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini? Why not?

So that’s exactly with former Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis decided to do, and used this as his rationale.

“‘We’ve so overused the word ‘socialism’ that it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago,’ Mr. Anuzis said. ‘Fascism — everybody still thinks that’s a bad thing.’”

Well heck, at least he’s honest.

He’s even a little analytical about it, about how the term needs to be dressed up the correct way in order not to sound like a psychotic person:

“‘It’s politically very incorrect only because we’re not used to it,’ concluded Mr. Anuzis, who recently joined American Solutions for Winning the Future, a group led by Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker. But he acknowledged, ‘You’ve got to be careful using the term ‘economic fascism’ in the right way, so it doesn’t come off as extreme.’”

Trouble is, some were not listening when he threw out those caveats.

From the Montgomery Advertiser:

“If you think I am overreacting, you merely have to look at what leaders of his ilk have done throughout history to gain and maintain power. Yes, he is charismatic and convincing to many. Although I do not intend to link his motives directly, so was Hitler.”

Or as caught on camera at a TEA party:

I found a few more websites, some “waaaay out there” blogs but am going to opt out of linking to them because some of these people look like they are seriously unbalanced. Which is the problem with throwing wild things like this out there in the first place.

Some people see it for what it is: political rhetoric.

Some people believe every single word.


Anonymous said...

Using gw's law is nothing more than a tactic by those whom have already conceded they have nothing to say, so they delete or block comments like an "information minister" from mid 20th century Germany.

How's that? Natzi isn't even mentioned once and your obvious use of labels demonstrates a neophyte diehard incable of free thought.

Simply say yes to whomever is sending you the garbage to propagandize, belittle and dismiss real people who give a damn. While you now claim to be defender of the status quo.

Get out your useless labeling pin because you and the neos deserve each other. Form a new party and bury the constitution while you are at it.

The middle is tired of being squeezed by repug-thugs and dirty-dems!

Hal said...

Anon, millions of us got over "Atlas Shrugged."

At 15.

Why haven't you?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry half I have to agree on the use of these convenience labels. They serve no end.