One of the oldest rules on the internet holds that the longer people discuss something, the more likely a comparison to Hitler will eventually be made. (Think every online debate you’ve had that’s devolved into people calling each other Nazis.) This rule is called Godwin’s law, after its creator, Mike Godwin, who formulated it in 1990, which should tell you something about how little things have changed on the internet.
But what do you do when calling people Nazis is, well, warranted? Following the white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where three were killed and several more injured, Godwin himself has weighed in to let everybody know that calling those attending the rally — many carrying swastika flags — Nazis isn’t hyperbole. It’s the truth. And he’s onboard with it.
On his Facebook, Godwin writes that he decided to weigh in after he received a DM from someone asking him to publicly condemn the use of his law to silence voices from discussion following the events in Charlottesville.
The DM, from Godwin’s Facebook:
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”. 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.
“Like so many people, I’m so appalled at what happened in Charlottesville that I haven’t known what to say, or whether to say anything at all,” Godwin told Gizmodo. “But she [the person who sent the Facebook DM] asked for something that was easy for me to give.” Once more for the people in the back.