Mike Godwin: Man who devised internet Hitler law says, 'Call these Charlottesville s***heads Nazis'

'By all means, compare these s***heads to the Nazis. Again and again. I'm with you.'

Demonstrators protesting the alt-right movement and mourning the victims of yesterdays rally in Charlottesville, Virginia carry puppets of President Donald Trump and  U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessionson August 13, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois
Demonstrators protesting the alt-right movement and mourning the victims of yesterdays rally in Charlottesville, Virginia carry puppets of President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessionson August 13, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois

The man who pointed out that everyone compares everything to Nazis says it's OK to call alt-right protestors Nazis.

Mike Godwin formulated Godwin's Law more than 25 years ago. And it has become a foundational rule of the internet in the time since: as a discussion goes on, the likelihood of someone being called a Nazi becomes higher.

Some have added an extra part: as soon as someone is called a Nazi, they are probably wrong.

But Mr Godwin has said that the white nationalists who took over the streets of Charlottesville over the weekend can fairly be compared to Nazis, given that many of them openly voice support for a Nazi ideology.

"By all means, compare these s***heads to the Nazis," he wrote. "Again and again. I'm with you."

Mr Godwin has said before that he is fine with Nazi comparisons, so long as they are thought-out and historically informed. At the Charlottesville rally, protestors carried Swastika flags and made Nazi salutes.

"If you’re thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer to Hitler or Nazis when you talk about Trump," he wrote in the Washington Post late last year. "Or any other politician."

He went on to make clear that he thinks that references to the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes are legitimate and can be helpful, in some cases.

"To be clear: I don’t personally believe all rational discourse has ended when Nazis or the Holocaust are invoked," he wrote. "But I’m pleased that people still use Godwin’s Law to force one another to argue more thoughtfully.

"The best way to prevent future holocausts, I believe, is not to forbear from Holocaust comparisons; instead, it’s to make sure that those comparisons are meaningful and substantive."

The original formulation of Godwin's Law goes: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one". That is, any discussion online is likely to turn into Nazi comparisons, at some point.

Its clear truth has led it to become famous on the internet. And it has been used as a kind of fallacy, where people argue that anyone who invokes Hitler or the Nazis has inevitably lost an argument, though Mr Godwin has made clear that isn't always the case.

Charlottesville mayor: There's a 'direct line' between what happened here and Trump

In follow-up message on Facebook, Mr Godwin made clear that he had made the statement in response to a request.

"This is in response to a direct-message request: 'Mr. Godwin, pardon the lack of proper introduction, but I believe you to be the man who created the Internet adage now known as "Godwin's Law"," he said. "Sir, I implore you to post a statement on FB, giving your views on the recent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville Virginia.

"Your adage is invoked so very often to shut down discussions about politics and social issues as soon as any comparisons to Nazism and 1930's Germany are made, but now that videos have surfaced showing the Nazi flag being waved in the Charlottesville parade... Sir, would you please make a public statement? I've noted before that sometimes sheer irony can pierce to the heart of an argument, to deflate the opposing side.'"

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