Friday, November 12, 2004

Goodwin's Law

Goodwin's Law was first created for newgroup and other internet discussion forums to keep flame wars down. It states that the first person to bring up Nazi's looses the argument. The thought was that people were far too willing to accuse their opponents of Nazism or Fascism and this would cut it down. However, this sound rule of thumb has become somewhat absurd in our current discourse. Goodwin's Law is now often invoked as a kind of absolute rule so that any accusation of fascism is automatically dismissed.

But this is ridiculous. Anyone presenting a political position wants to put forth ideas that will survive any honest critical scrutiny. But if a rule states that any no accusation of being fascist will be allowed than the one position which is guaranteed to be immune from honest critical review is fascism!

The correct principal of discourse should be that any accusation of a monstrous wrong should require extraordinary evidence. Casual accusations of fascist (or communist beliefs) should be disallowed. But to claim that any such comparison is forbidden is silly.



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