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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."


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"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.

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