"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Monday, July 11, 2005
Godwin's law (also Godwin's rule of Nazi analogies) is an adage in Internet culture that was originated by Mike Godwin in 1990. The law states that:As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1 (i.e. certainty).
There is a tradition in many Usenet newsgroups that once such a comparison is made, the thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress. In addition, it is considered poor form to invoke the law explicitly. Godwin's law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups. Many people understand Godwin's law to mean this, although (as is clear from the statement of the law above) this is not the original formulation.
But while comparisons to Hitler and/or the Nazis are clearly repugnant, we must recognize that there are even worse things:
Republicans took aim at Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday for a speech comparing President Bush to Mad magazine's freckle-faced, "What, me worry?" kid, Alfred E. Neuman.
A Republican National Committee official said the former first lady was "part of today's angry and adrift Democrat Party," while a spokesman for one of her potential 2006 Senate rivals said she was guilty of "insulting the president."
"At a time when President Bush and most elected officials are focused on the security of our nation, Mrs. Clinton seems focused on taking partisan jabs and promoting her presidential campaign," added New York's GOP chairman, Stephen Minarik. "Her priorities are clearly out of whack."
Clinton's attack on the president came Sunday during a speech in Colorado.
"I sometimes feel that Alfred E. Neuman is in charge in Washington," Clinton said during the inaugural Aspen Ideas Festival, organized by the Aspen Institute, a non-partisan think tank.
The former first lady drew a laugh from the crowd when she described Bush's attitude toward tough issues with Neuman's catch phrase: "What, me worry?"
It wasn't the first time that Clinton had likened Bush to the Mad kid. In April, she told New York Daily News reporters and editors, "We're in a very dangerous fiscal situation, and this administration is Alfred E. Neuman — what, me worry?"
Which leads us to Buck Mulligan's Law: In any continuing discussion of the Boy King, the probability - and aptness - of a comparison involving Alfred E. Neuman approaches 1 (i.e. certainty). There is a tradition in the reality-based community that once such a comparison is made, people with an IQ greater than that of cinnamon toast will chuckle, and mouthbreathing conservatives will automatically lose their shit.
Update: Corrected embarrassing spelling error.