Wikipedia describes Godwin's Law as follows:
Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies) is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin in 1990 which has become an Internet adage. It states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."
Godwin's Law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the widespread reductio ad Hitlerum form. The rule does not make any statement about whether any particular reference or comparison to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that the likelihood of such a reference or comparison arising increases as the discussion progresses. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.
Godwin's law is so strong that even supporters of Prop. 8, the California ballot proposition that banned gay marriage, have been using Nazi-Hitler analogies, even though it is well known that the Nazis were extremely homophobic. A video titled "Hitler enraged at Yes on 8 Victories in California" is especially amusing. On a more serious note, Ed Brayton's blog has an article with a video of a speech that Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, gave at a pro-Prop. 8 rally. The article has the following excerpt from the video:
There was another time in history when people, when the bell tolled. And the question was whether or not they were going to hear it. The time was during Nazi Germany with Adolf Hitler. You see he brought crowds of clergy together to assure them that he was going to look after the church. And one of the members, bold and courageous, Reverend Niemoller made his way to the front and boldly said "Hitler, we are not concerned about the church. Jesus Christ will take care of the church. We are concerned about the soul of Germany." Embarrassed and chagrined, his peers quickly shuffled him to the back. And as they did Adolf Hitler said, "The soul of Germany, you can leave that to me." And they did, and because they did bombs did not only fall upon the nation of Germany, but also upon the church and their testimony to this very day. Let us not make that mistake folks. Let us hear the bell! Vote on Proposition 8!
Brad Dacus's above analogy is completely inapposite. If Proposition 8 concerns the fate of the soul of America or the souls of Americans, Prop. 8 did not ask voters if they wanted to leave that fate in the hands of a dictator -- Prop. 8 gave the voters the opportunity to determine that fate themselves.
I am especially disappointed in Brad Dacus's speech because the Pacific Justice Institute helped represent the plaintiffs in Caldwell v. Caldwell, a lawsuit that I very strongly supported (it was an establishment clause lawsuit against the Univ. of Calif. and the National Science Foundation for sponsoring a website that endorsed one-sided religious views supporting evolution theory -- this blog has a post-label group of articles about the case).
BTW, I am not a supporter of gay marriage (I support civil unions or domestic partnerships). One of the reasons why I do not support gay marriage is -- ironically -- that I feel that public support for gay marriage is not strong enough to create uniform availability of gay marriage in all the states, and the result is that some gays -- those who live in the states offering gay marriage -- are more equal than the gays in states that do not offer gay marriage.
Labels: Darwin-to-HItler (new #2)