Monday, 5 December 2011

On a site that I contribute to someone's OP had "Nazi flags flying over the Palace of Westminster". The story was in relation to BBC Crimestoppers becoming involved with benefits' 'grass' lines.  

Godwin's law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies) predicts that at some point during an online discussion the subject will be inexorably drawn to the beliefs of Hitler and the Nazis. Looking at Ouch in all its manifestations I'd say Godwin had a point.

The Picture Speaks for Itself
But, what was Godwin's point? It wasn't merely to point out this Internet phenomenon of the dead-end argument; that reductio ad Hitlerum, and argumentum ad Hitlerum are too often used as ad hominem or ad misericordiam to advance a weak thesis. No, it had a more important message. Godwin is pointing out that we should use caution when invoking such powerful points as part of our argument. He is saying that by casually introducing the Hitler and Nazi comparison into debates there is a great fear of actually diminishing your case.

Not only can it weaken your line of argument, it may also serve to lessen the important messages that the Holocaust sends us. Once something becomes hackneyed and everyday it loses some of its impact. When all around us we hear people being called Nazi or Fascist these become tired and clichéd. The danger then arises that we won't know the real enemy when it moves in our ranks. 

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