No-Nazi Zone

I’m declaring Defending People a no-Nazi zone. If you want to call someone a Nazi, go elsewhere.


Because I don’t like ad hominem attacks in comments. They are, as Michael pointed out in a recent comment, absolutely unpersuasive.

The “Nazi” attack is particularly offensive because it minimizes Nazism. You want to prosecute nullifiers? “You’re a Nazi!” No, you’re not. Let’s face it: nothing that anyone could possibly say on the web could possibly compare with the systematic murder of six million Jews. And anyone who’s proposing anything that holds a candle to the systematic murder of six million Jews probably wants to be called a Nazi.

We might recognize tendencies toward totalitarianism in some of our fellow denizens of the blogosphere, and we might believe that there is a short slippery slope between (a) depriving the jury of the right to tell the government to go pound sand and (b) genocide. But calling people Nazis is not going to win any arguments.

If you engage in personal attacks in a comment, be prepared to have me edit your comment. Don’t go crying about your First Amendment Rights. First, the First Amendment does not apply here. I’m not a state actor.

Second, I do it for your own benefit, since your personal attacks probably make you look like a total asshat. By editing your posts, I can’t help but make you look better.

Does that not comport with the spirit of blogging? Too bad. I am really jazzed about the discussions that we’ve seen here. It’s like my little garden of ideas; if I have to prune some branches or even pull some weeds to maintain it, I will.

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0 responses to “No-Nazi Zone”

  1. You have just independently confirmed Godwin’s Law, which reads, “As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

    Relatedly, from distinguished software engineer Alex Payne, a list of “People who, when quoted, immediately invalidate any argument:”

    * Noam Chomsky

    * Ayn Rand

    * Gandhi

    * Winston Churchill

    * Hunter S Thompson

    * Pope John Paul II

    * Jim Morrison

    * George W Bush

    * Milton Freedman

    * Timothy Leary

    * Adolph Hitler (by way of comparison)

    * Dr Seuss

    * Frederic Nietzsche

    * any DJ other than John Peel

    * Richard Stallman

    * Ann Coulter

    * Bill Watterson

    * Richard Dawkins

    * any anthropomorphized animal character

    * Strom Thurmond

    * John Lennon

    * Karl Marx

    * Adolf Eichman

    * Anton LaVey

    * Jerry Falwell

    * any baseball personality

    * Aleister Crowley

    * Carlos Casteneda

    * Einstein (if not about physics)

    * Deepak Chopra

    * William Randolph Hearst

    * Bobby Fischer

    * anyone with a blog

    * L. Ron Hubbard

    * William Shakespeare

    * Robert Anton Wilson

    * Mark Twain

    * Bono, or anyone Bono would quote

  2. Whew! That’s a relief. When I first read the title, Mark, I was afraid you were banning me from future postings!!!


  3. I’m with Michael. Saying something is only a personal attack if someone takes it personally.

    Since I’m the source of the last use of that phrase, you clearly understood what was conveyed. It’s not that someone is a literal Nazi, it is that their mode of thinking is quite similar to the mode of thinking used in the Nazi regime.

    I personally found guest blogger’s position highly offensive. He personally used the words, “they are guilty,” meaning he’d already accused and convicted them. It’s not like he even phrased it as a hypothetical it was a declarative.

  4. ** Second, I do it for your own benefit, since your personal attacks probably make you look like a total asshat. By editing your posts, I can’t help but make you look better. **

    I nearly spewed my coffee after that last sentence. Too funny. Stop that!

  5. Ron, I think Michael was probably speaking ironically. I had never heard of Godwin’s Law before Michael’s comment on Grits (indeed, I thought Godwin’s Law was, “let’s move it along, counsel”), I think the law in its prescriptive form (the first commenter here invokes the Law in its descriptive form) is acceptable: if you compare someone to a Nazi, the discussion is over and you lose.

    We all found GB’s position highly offensive; he expected that. If he’d wanted an adoring sycophantic response he’d’ve posted at the Kelly Siegler Campaign Blog. But if being a little too focused on the will of the government for our comfort makes him a Nazi, then we’re living in Nazi times.

  6. Mark

    We’re awfully close to Nazi times. I’m not afraid, but I am highly concerned for my children if trends aren’t reversed.

    I’m also getting older and have that age induced shrinking frontal lobe, so I have less impulse control. I tend to speak my mind even if it’s always considered “nice.”

  7. You’re quite wrong on this. To call someone a Nazi is usually a shorter way of saying: “You, Sir, are propagating views that are the same as (or similar to) the views of Nazis”.

    That’s why when the Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman pointed out that those who seek equality of income are advocating the same type of views held by Chairman Mao in China and Stalin and Lenin in Russia, he was not engaging in demagoguery, but making a legitimate point. If you desire equality of income you are a socialist. And Mao, Stalin and Lenin were socialist dictators who killed lots of people with their bad economic policies.

    It does not mean that someone is personally a Nazi or mad dicator in the sense of Hitler. Obviously, no one commenting on this blog is that stupid. It does, however, mean that Guest Blogger is propagating views that are similar (in terms of the direction they are heading towards) to Nazism.

    It’s like a political spectrum, going from left to right. At one end we have libertarians who are for an absolute right to freedom of speech (including no defamation laws, etc.) and on the other we have fascists who are against any speech not authorised by the State. Guest blogger was clearly heading in the direction of the latter, and the abbreviated label of “Nazi” was entirely appropriate.

  8. This would not be the first time I have been wrong, and it certainly will not be the last time.

    I will be the first to agree that much of the history that we see repeating itself was written in 1938. “Your views are similar to the views of Nazis, viz: . . .” is persuasive. “You’re a Nazi” is not. By pointing out to GB what the Nazis said that suggested they would share is position, you might even bring some light into the dark recesses of his prosecutorial mind, and wind up with an ally.

    I’ll moderate my original position. If you want to call someone a Nazi, point out how his or her views were espoused by the Nazis. Don’t just go throwing the word around, even if you think everyone else knows what you mean by the abbreviated label. Not here.

    “To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies, and pause to America’s friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil.”

    -John Ashcroft

    “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

    -Hermann Goering

  9. Mr. Escobar:

    I like Wagner operas. I enjoy fine art. I drive on the right side of the road. Each of these characteristic applied to Hitler during his lifetime. One could say “You’re just like Hitler!” in reference to any of them, or several other traits. The point of comparing someone to Hitler is not to say that they have certain things in common. It’s to conjure an evil spectre to cast unfair prejudice on its target.

    There may be may legitimate comparisons between GB and the Nazis. On the other hand, the fact that millions died under the reigns of Mao, Lenin, and Stalin does not lead me to believe they were bad economists; it makes me think that they were ruthless, barbaric tyrants who saw murder as a legitimate means of stilling dissent.

    So, even though Hitler might have been in favor of prosecuting the writers of The Wire, I still think the main point of calling GB a Nazi is an emotional cheap shot.

  10. Perhaps it’s necessary to remind those who comment that this is Mark’s blawg. He gets to make the rules, set the tone, edit any damn thing he pleases. He started it and can shut it down at will. He is under no obligation to let readers or commenters dictate the rules.

    We are all here at Mark’s pleasure. If that’s not suitable, you can always start your own blawg, where you can call people nazis at will.

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