« Corporations Craziness | Main | Post Exam Rant »

There Ought To Be A (Corollary to Godwin's) Law

Bush-hatred/fear of the Religious Right/general anti-religious bigotry has gotten to the point amongst some, generally on the political left, that we really need an extension to Godwin's Law to counter it. I'm speaking of the now commonplace habit of comparing the American religious right to the Taliban.

References to the "American Taliban" (or in Prof. Leiter's case, continual references to the Texas Taliban) are just the same inflammatory drivel that Godwin's Law is usually invoked to avoid when it comes to the Nazi's or Hitler. [1] Amy at Crescat put it nicely:

I really really really hate this sort of rhetoric. What bothers me most about the suggestion here that the Bush administration is equivalent to the Taliban is not that the comparison is unfair to Bush et. al., it is that it is unfair to the Taliban.

What made the Taliban a vile, despicable regime whose death went entirely unlamented was not the fact that they wished to enforce certain religious norms upon the population, but rather the brutally extreme measures to which they were willing to go in order to achieve that goal.

What made the Taliban stand out--and what gives the term "Texas Taliban" its emotive force--were the violent methods that the regime was willing to use against those who transgressed. To describe the religious right as part of the "Texas Taliban" isn't just to say that they think homosexuality should be discouraged or proscribed by law: it is to imply they believe that homosexuals should be crushed beneath toppled walls. To talk of Republicans willing to roll back abortion as part of an "American Taliban" agenda means more than such words: it implies a desire to see women draped head to toe, unable to be seen in public.

Such things are deeply unserious at best, calumnies at worst, and generally grounds for dismissing an author who uses them. Godwin's Law has served for a number of years as a way of dismissing--not to mention shaming--those who made such ill-considered comparisons. It's time for us to come up with a corollary.

The trouble is, I can't think of a pithy way to phrase one. Any suggestions?

[1]: I know that Godwin's law doesn't formally state anything about the quality of an argument invoking Nazis or Hitler. I'm going by the more colloquial form, often stated as "the argument's over when someone mentions Hitler."

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://threeyearsofhell.com/cgi-bin/mt5/mt-tb.cgi/10473

Comments

"Such things are deeply unserious at best" And that's the real trouble, isn't it ? For someone who can't take the religious right remotely seriously, it's very tempting to tease. This then confuses those readers who don't feel similarly such as yourself, who then respond in kind (this entry). I think the lesson's pretty clear: humour's for when you're preaching to the choir - it's an unreliable tool for serious debate.
Bateleur: "Teasing" is if I call you a computer geek, Dom: it's slightly true, it's well-meant and partially respectful (you're a good programmer), and I know you personally. Referring to someone as a Nazi can be teasing--I've been called a "computer Nazi", I know of someone else oft-referred to as an "Exercise Nazi" for helping people stick with exercise regimes--but only under similar conditions. What you're talking about isn't teasing, it's merely an insult. Now insults are all well and good, but those making them really ought to be able to back them up. Otherwise you go from preaching to the choir to screeching to the madhouse.
You could try asking godwin. mnemonic at well com, if i remember correctly, or his blog is called godwin's law. I for one think 'texas taliban' is a perfectly reasonable metaphor.
The terrorists abhor civil rights, voting rights, women's rights and secularism. Just like the American Taliban.

Post a comment

NOTICE TO SPAMMERS, COMMENT ROBOTS, TRACKBACK SPAMMERS AND OTHER NON-HUMAN VISITORS: No comment or trackback left via a robot is ever welcome at Three Years of Hell. Your interference imposes significant costs upon me and my legitimate users. The owner, user or affiliate who advertises using non-human visitors and leaves a comment or trackback on this site therefore agrees to the following: (a) they will pay fifty cents (US$0.50) to Anthony Rickey (hereinafter, the "Host") for every spam trackback or comment processed through any blogs hosted on threeyearsofhell.com, morgrave.com or housevirgo.com, irrespective of whether that comment or trackback is actually posted on the publicly-accessible site, such fees to cover Host's costs of hosting and bandwidth, time in tending to your comment or trackback and costs of enforcement; (b) if such comment or trackback is published on the publicly-accessible site, an additional fee of one dollar (US$1.00) per day per URL included in the comment or trackback for every day the comment or trackback remains publicly available, such fee to represent the value of publicity and search-engine placement advantages.

Giving The Devil His Due

And like that... he is gone (8)
Bateleur wrote: I tip my hat to you - not only for ... [more]

Law Firm Technology (5)
Len Cleavelin wrote: I find it extremely difficult to be... [more]

Post Exam Rant (9)
Tony the Pony wrote: Humbug. Allowing computers already... [more]

Symbols, Shame, and A Number of Reasons that Billy Idol is Wrong (11)
Adam wrote: Well, here's a spin on the theory o... [more]

I've Always Wanted to Say This: What Do You Want? (14)
gcr wrote: a nice cozy victorian in west phill... [more]

Choose Stylesheet

What I'm Reading

cover
D.C. Noir

My city. But darker.
cover
A Clockwork Orange

About time I read this...


Shopping

Projects I've Been Involved With

A Round-the-World Travel Blog: Devil May Care (A new round-the-world travel blog, co-written with my wife)
Parents for Inclusive Education (From my Clinic)

Syndicated from other sites

The Columbia Continuum
Other Blogs by CLS students