The Common Good Corollary to Godwin’s Law: Hitler, Nazi Comparisons Ruin Civil Discourse for Everybody

How many times have you heard a politician or a talking head compare someone to Adolph Hitler or the Nazis?

The answer has to be: too many.

The truth is our elected officials and public servants – even when we think they are completely wrong – are not planning to murder millions of people as the Nazis did in the Holocaust. Making such comparisons not only diminishes the atrocities committed by Hitler’s regime, but prevents us from having civil and constructive debates about current issues.

Hitler references aren’t new in American discourse, but they are being used more and more often. In 1990, Mike Godwin, a lawyer working on digital issues, noticed that arguments on online message boards eventually devolved into Nazi analogies. He postulated that it was inevitable someone would eventually bring up Hitler.

We now call that idea Godwin’s Law, which states: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

We at The Common Good have come up with our own corollary to Godwin’s Law for today’s over-heated political debate, both online and off. It goes like this: The individual who brings up Nazis or Hitler ruins civil discourse for everybody.

We think it’s time for the name calling to stop and the real conversation to begin. So we’re going to point out anyone who makes unnecessary Hitler or Nazi references and tell them to stop doing it.

It doesn’t matter whether the culprit is a Democrat or a Republican. It doesn’t matter if they are an elected official, a candidate for office or a pundit.

When someone throws out a Hitler reference, we’ll post it here.

But we need your help! Share these posts with your friends and spread the word that nobody is Hitler but Hitler.

And if you see a Nazi reference that we missed, let us know.

To join our campaign for a civil debate, sign up for our email list, follow us on Twitter (we’re @thecommongood) and like us on Facebook.