When Godwin's Law Met The Streisand Effect

from the take-it-down,-you-nazi dept

Okay, here's a fun post for a Friday evening: Earlier this week, I was at World Hosting Days, where I gave a keynote speech about the importance of CDA 230 and things like intermediary liability protections -- and why they are so important to protecting free speech online. The emcee of the event was Mike Godwin, who (among his many, many accomplishments over the years as an internet lawyer and philosopher) coined Godwin's Law. The organizers of the event, realizing that they had the guy who coined Godwin's Law and the guy (me!) who coined the Streisand Effect in the same place at the same time, thought it might be fun to have the two of us talk about these two memes.

And, voila. Here's the video of the two of us discussing it. We're also planning to release this as a podcast soon, so if you already listen to the Techdirt podcast and want to wait for that, feel free... But, if you want to skip ahead and watch/listen now, go for it.

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Filed Under: godwin's law, mike godwin, streisand effect


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  1. icon
    OA (profile), 16 Sep 2017 @ 1:17pm

    Re: Re: this thing i see often

    People who invoke it without knowing what it actually means other than “stop comparing people to Nazis” do so out of ignorance.

    I never liked Godwin's law, but the reason was, as you wrote, because of the people who use it poorly. Also, the "law" part is too often interpreted as an absolute, encouraging some to overestimate their understanding of the world. However, my dislike for Godwin's law, itself, may have been unfair.

    ...keep arguments from devolving into petty namecalling and rhetorical low-blows...

    When words gain social power, they'll be used to attack others, even when inapplicable. IMO, 'arguments' are already a devolvement, but that may just be semantics.

    You can compare groups and people to Nazis;... If you want to make the comparison, be sure you can back it up.

    It is not enough to dislike nazis or think they are bad. Even the most righteous of dislikes mean little if you don't understand the hows and whys of an evil. The triggers and causes don't go away just because a significant manifestation of an evil collapses. - Just look at current events: we are apparently still fighting The Civil War; we have a President that defended actual nazis, with a disturbing number of people plainly agreeing; Police who have little problem beating up mostly peaceful protestors, did virtually nothing to white supremacists and nazis that clearly engaged in premeditated violence.

    Many (perhaps all) of the constituent components that made up 'nazism' is still present in society and day-to-day life. Since nazism was supposed to be a near universally recognized evil, it was useful to compare today's components to the components that helped create the reviled events of nazi Germany. Instead, I feel, the use or misuse of Godwin's Law helped suppress this vital discussion. Progress was presumed not demonstrated.


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