Godwins Law - Tory MEP loses the argument

Tory MEP Daniel Hannan (no, I've never heard of him either) has probably never heard of Godwin's law. The law relates to people who make reference to or resort to rather silly comparisons to Nazi Germany when debating something. It is also true that on Usenet and in other internet forums it is often mentioned by participants that the first person to mention Hitler or the Nazi's in an argument automatically loses what ever the argument is about.

If Mr Hannan had of heard of this law I doubt it would have stopped him making silly comments comparing the EU and some of its officials with Nazi Germany, unless Mr Hannan would care to divulge where the Hitler Youth meet these days in Brussels.

It is a shame that Euro sceptics cannot express themslves in a way that wins argument rather than making them look like ignorant bigots, such is the bile within some rightwingers when it comes to Europe. As a Euro sceptic myself I would prefer to see peopel argue where Europe is wrong from a positive angle using and sensible language which does not rely on the popularism in some quarters of xenophobia.


Quiet_Man said...

Pottering (European Parliament's German president) had been granted powers to overrule Hannan's tactics designed to 'disrupt' the business of the House but which weren't against the rules and were, in fact, quite clearly permitted by the rules. This is in effect very similar to the Nazi law of 1933 (Ermächtigungsgesetz Act) which gave Hitler the right to do what the hell he liked without recourse to criticism from the Reichstag. You don't uphold democracy by banning free speech or the right to protest, something the EU parliament has taken upon itself in recent weeks. This is the point Hannan made and for some odd reason the EU Parliament didn't like it.

jailhouselawyer said...

Before my time, just, but I do not recall that Hitler's mob invaded mainland Britain, whereas they were all over Europe. The Dutch post World War 2 penal system has become more humane as a result of many of the citizens being imprisoned under the German occupation. They know what it is like to live under the Jackboot. We could learn from Europe how to treat prisoners like human beings.

Grendel said...


Norfolk Blogger said...

I note Grendel sent his comment before I approved Jailhouse Layer's comments, so I assume he is agreeing with me, although I agree personally also with JHL. Isn't it complicated.

asquith said...

How many LibDem Eurosceptics are there, and how far do they go? I'm leaning towards them (I'll probably vote for them, since I can't envisage myself supporting the Labour/Conservative party) but I'm balking at their Europhilia. I hope there are some who are more sceptic :)

Anonymous said...

"Godwin's Law [..] states that the first person to mention Hitler or the Nazi's in an argument automatically loses"

Actually, Godwin's Law says nothing of the sort, and you would have known that if you had stopped to read the Wikipedia article you so nearly linked to.

Anonymous said...

To upset you further:

It's actually a perfectly apposite analogy. I don't recall you being up in arms about the Regulatory Reform (aka. Abolition of Parliament) bill being compared to the same enabling act.

Norfolk Blogger said...

The only thing that upsets me is that you post anonymously. How brave you are.

cityboozer said...

"Norfolk Blogger",

I abase myself! My sincerest apologies.

I don't have a blogger identity so you cannot check out who I am because I am nobody in this world, but I have left messages on the Commentisfree (whence I found a link to this post) as "cityboozer" on occasion. This is not a "sock-puppet" identity, nor do I have any other identities.

It's rather a shame that you insist on verifying my bona fides before you will consider answering me, but I hope this is enough to interest you in addressing the seriously made points above.


Norfolk Blogger said...

As you have proved CB you don't need a blogger identity to leave your name, so what is your point exactly ?

cityboozer said...

My point is that I would like a know how you respond to the points that I made above.

Your version of Godwin's law may be inaccurate but if it has a point it is surely that people can get carried away and make inappropriate analogies. Your post may have been meant light-heartedly but the basis of it has been shown to be false which makes the line about "death camps" excusable.

As a leader writer, Hannan is given to strong statements but in general not to inaccuracy. He explains his position here and gives some more background here. Even the BBC article quotes has big quote sidebar showing the true line: "The whole business is outrageous. I am almost tempted to compare it to the Nazi Ermächtigungsgesetz - the Enabling Act of 1933." There is no holocaust analogy to be had here.

So, to be clear, I think you should post an update retracting much of what you said and perhaps request that Guardian remove their "best of the web" link.

Norfolk Blogger said...

I'm happy to change the reference to death camps to something less antagonistic, but I would stress that I made the point in that way in the first place to (a) make a point and (b) to show that references to Nazi germany can be stretched the the extreme and can be offensive to lots of groups.