I was watching teh internets the other day. By watching I mean it like people might watch noel’s house party or beiberphiles might stare at #beiber on twitter while it endlessly threw up beibertweets like binary but with Lols! This means I was basically staring blankly at my computer screen clicking on random shit when BOOM! I actually learnt something new. Teh internets did what it was supposed to for once and imparted shared wisdom.
For those of you like me who are basically idiots with little or no room in their lives to doggedly acquaint themselves with internet philosophising Godwin’s law is defined as: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1 (100%).”Reductio ad Hitlerum has been around a bit longer and describes how people will use even the most tenuous similarities to Hitler to attack someone’s argument.
Do these ideas sound familiar? Ever been in an argument and someone’s been like ‘Hitler liked dogs! OMG! U have a dog! LOL. U’re just like Hitler PMsL?’ or ‘You want civil liberties for all? Man you’re like some sort of extremist civil liberty Nazi?’. They should be familiar. It’s a tried and trusted form of journalistic argument and can be seen smeared like a dirty protest regularly across the pages of our papers.
Ok so the art has evolved, and it’s not always Hitler who gets thrown into the mix but the principle of making completely inappropriate links to demonise a person or argument is the bread and butter of opinion-based journalism.
Take yesterday’s Sun for example. Did you see the picture of Sepp Blatter being compared to Gadaffi? Ha ha! Cries the general public. How topical. Here we have the unopposed head of FIFA, how similar he is to Gadaffi! Ho ho ho!
Except there are actually zero similarities are there? I mean really? Gadaffi is head of a North African state fighting a civil war against his own people. He’s shelling towns, imprisoning or killing people and being bombed to the stone age by the British and French military. Sepp Blatter meanwhile is the head of FIFA. A body that governs world football. He’s just been voted back in unopposed. No-one’s dying, no refugee camps, no bombs. Just football and money! The only similarity you could draw is that the both have pudgy faces and appear to be quite disliked at the moment. That’s pathetic! Chris Moyles has a pudgy face and seems to be quite disliked – no-ones compared him to either Gadaffi or Blatter.
Of course, for some journalists there’s no point in shifting the comparisons to modern-day baddies. For some people only Hitler and the Nazis will do when making facile arguments railing against whatever annoys them. A couple of weeks ago the mail ran a piece about “parking Nazis”. The piece discussed h0w these “Nazis” issued a fine to someone who had overrun their parking time. No death camps. No pogroms. No holocaust. They gave the bloke a ticket cos he’s parked illegally. And he got his money back. The link to Nazis here is presumably that parking wardens wear uniforms?
But the Mail is no stranger to this is it… I mean everyone knows of Littlejohn. He’s a popular hate figure for any press commentator. His column is badly written, ill-informed and full of hate and rage. He is also capable of taking Godwin’s law into the stratosphere. Where other journalists may resort to it as a last resort or throw it in as an aside, Richard Littlejohn makes a crude artistry of it. He daubs Nazi references across his column like Jackson Pollock mauled his canvasses with thick acrylic paint. Someone raises workplace welfare concerns – they’re an “elf’n’safety nazi”. Someone tries to deal with perceived discrimination they’re an “equality nazi” If you do a google search of the daily mail site for “littlejohn” and “nazi” you come up with over 7,000 hits.
There may be some double counting going on here. And I’m sure some of the references will come in the “comments” bit – but it’s still mental! The waters on Littlejohn are further muddied by his own constant references to Nazis in the “correct” context. He’s obsessed. He recently wrote a column about how people going to a WWII re-enactment weren’t allowed ot wear Nazi uniforms. He’s always making mention of Britain fighting the actual Nazis in WWII. It’s like a fetish or obession for him. He throws the term about with wild abandon, like some sort of “Nazi-word-using” Nazi.
This obsession is upsetting for so many reasons. I fail to see how you can genuinely use the term Nazi to describe bureaucratic procedures unless those bureaucratic procedures are somehow enforcing genocide. If “elf’n’safety” Nazis were packing people into ghettos or “Equality Nazis” made people wear special armbands then maybe the arguments would be something other than trite and lazy – but they aren’t, so they are, so there!
This is a dangerous and global contagion. The Australian Herald Sun has just run a piece on “Safety Nazis” and the South African Mail and Guardian also ran a piece comparing Blatter to Gadaffi.
In America Bryan Fischer of the “American Family Association” has been calling gay people “nazis” (because of course gay people weren’t at all victims of the holocaust). It will probably end with childrens TV presenters calling each other Nazis on yoof shows – y’know. Just for the craic like! How long before Iggle Piggle from “in the night garden” calls Maccu Paccu a Nazi for going to sleep before him.
Along with Godwin’s Law and Reductio ad Hitlerum I’d like to add a new one. “Niemöllerising”. This is a favourite in the insane realms of Have your say and comment is free and all the other places where idiots think that, in filling a white box, they’re able to influence the world around them. It refers to making reference to Martin Niemöller‘s classic poem “First they came…” but for completely inappropriate comparisons. eg “First they came for the smokers….” as though stopping people from smoking indoors was somehow tantamount to sending them to a fucking death camp. How long before we see Niemöllerising becoming a regular feature in Littlejohn rants?