This confected outrage will be our downfall
In 1990 – that dim and distant past when trolls were just mythical Scandinavian cavedwellers and only expert cooks and photographers thought they were expert cooks and photographers – US author Mike Godwin created Godwin’s Law.
Godwin’s Law states that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”
The law’s an easy way to call out lazy hyperbole.
A man in a sensible sweater writes on his blog that maybe Cory Bernardi should refrain from making a connection between homosexuality and beastiality. An anonymous online sputterer retorts that next thing Mr Sensible Sweater will be burning books, the censorious Nazi.
Everyone else can then merrily roll their eyes and mumble-type ‘Godwin’s Law!’ and know that the ‘conversation’ has entirely unravelled.
Once someone invokes the Nazis without justification – and to justify a comparison someone has to have talked up eugenics or casually condoned genocide - they’ve fallen foul of the law and have automatically lost the argument.
Enter Christopher Pyne.
Mr Pyne, who loves to wield poison-tipped verbal jousting sticks, said the Federal Government was “starting to resemble a scene from Downfall”. The 2004 movie details the scheiße-storm of Hitler’s last days in his Berlin bunker.
Cue outrage. Newly appointed Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said the comments were not just hurtful to Holocaust survivors, but “deeply hurtful to any right-thinking Australian”. That’s a lot of people and a lot of hurt for a little barb.
Showing that he fits right in with Labor’s propensity to reverse wedgie itself, Mr Dreyfus was then pulled up for having referred to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in the past as ‘Goebbellian’, a delightful adjective for the darkest arts of propaganda.
As cartoonist Jon Kudelka pointed out, welcome to day five of policy discussion, Canberra style.
How do we put an end to all this faux-outrage?
We could point out that really Mr Pyne didn’t fall foul of Godwin’s Law. He was making quite an apt comparison, not to Hitler himself but to his downfall, to a particular scene in a film which shows a leader crumbling as his deputies inform him of battles lost.
This scene, a YouTube sensation, has been parodied to the point where there was a parody about Hitler finding out about the parodies.
During the 2010 election, there was a clip in which Hitler bemoaned having to choose between former Labor leader Kevin Rudd and Mr Abbott. One of the best is Kevin Rudd as Hitler having a meltdown when his underlings tell him that “there’s not even a bounce to be had when you head in for a jovial chat on Sunrise with Kochie”.
They’re really pretty funny.
Here’s the thing. If you really want to be outraged – and it’s clear that there’s a hunger for feeling aggrieved out there – there are plenty of people that are more worrying than Mr Pyne.
There’s the Rise Up Australia party, which will be launched (again) at the National Press Club in Canberra next week. They’re led by Pastor Danny Nalliah from Catch the Fire Ministries. He is a young Earth Creationist who hears the voice of Satan, thinks the decriminalisation of abortion brought about the Black Saturday bushfires and that multiculturalism is communism in disguise.
Christopher ‘please call me Lord’ Monckton will give the keynote speech. The famous climate change denier (sorry, did that breach Godwin’s Law?) believes he has the power to cure all kinds of diseases. As an aside, Mr Abbott had to distance himself from Mr Monckton after he called Government climate change adviser Professor Ross Garnaut a Nazi. Mr Monckton’s last tour was backed by our own independent Senator Ann Bressington, who believes that water fluoridation is “the biggest health fraud of our time”.
It is these people who are crossing the streams of ignorance to explode rational thought, while Mr Pyne just threw a little bit of slime.
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