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.
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You’d be hard pressed to find an opening news paragraph this week more ludicrous than “Tim Mathieson has apologised for making a joke about small Asian women and prostate examinations”.
It’s not quite up there with the classic “Gordon Ramsay’s porn dwarf double eaten to death by badgers” from 2011, but as far as news leads go it’s pretty much got everything going for it.
Well in 2013 it does, anyway. There used to be a time when a story about the Prime Minister’s boyfriend saying something stupid might have raised a few eyebrows on the gossip pages. (Actually, in years past the fact that the Prime Minister HAD a boyfriend was probably a more exciting story to begin with, but I digress).
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Controversial humour. We’ve all heard the ‘jokes’ that fit this category before. They range from somewhat acceptable digs at ‘yo mama’ to serious jibes about culture, race, religion and sexual preferences.
It was also the disclaimer of sorts that Facebook inserted into the Aboriginal Memes URL before the page was eventually taken down yesterday—as if to say it was more acceptable when operating under the guise of humour.
Copycat pages have since surfaced in a more horrible (hard to fathom), albeit a somewhat less targeted format just hours after the Aboriginal Memes page was no longer accessible: “Things that will offend people,” and “Being offensive for the hell of it”, are just some of the latest distasteful outlets which have emerged solely for the purpose of offending people.
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