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), 17 Sep 2017 @ 6:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: this thing i see often

    I agree with the first paragraph.

    You really encounter discussions being shut down when there are valid comparisons, via overuse of Godwin's Law claims?

    Yes(ish). But, I don't remember or care about those. Simply shutting down discussions is blunt and easy to detect, easy to condemn, easy to avoid. The problem is the more subtle ways discussion is guided away from the reasonable and even deteriorates into argument. Unfortunately, nazis were not inhuman "monsters", whose actions were so far from typical that it is has no modern relevance.

    I hardly argue that Godwin should be misused, but there are plenty of other comparisons if any are, in fact, needed. This is a thing in itself - people distance or remain ignorant of the actions and history of their own cultures, states, etc., because comparing something to a fairly remote and "dead" episode of world history is easier.

    Good comments... The nazi regime is relatively recent, their sins grotesque, the events "baffling" ("how could this happen?", etc), its attributes relevant. This collective memory is powerful. If this power isn't used to impress upon us warnings and wisdom then it will have some other effect (and it has). To borrow a phrase, "nature abhors a vacuum". I agree with (and have used myself) the point about this be 'fairly remote', but this is unavoidable. It can be mitigated a bit. For example, we could recognize that the nazis literally used aspects learned from America's racial caste system. Yikes! When related subject matter is discussed, this is the kind of thing adults should collectively come to grips with. Instead we develop collective delusions and myth-making. The conditions of today are NOT THAT SURPRISING!...

    Anyway, I'm not blaming Godwin or his law. I don't want Mr. Masnick to ban me for insulting his BFF. :)


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