So true. I have myself observed / felt this several times. My experience is that the facts of any discussion are laid out pretty quickly at the beginning. There is something that prolongs the discussion and heats up the arguments on all sides and I believe it is our collective emotional baggage, or lack of it. Some twist their words to mean anything just to stay in the conversation, some dig in their heels in the hopes of never having to be proven wrong, some stick to the bare facts but ignore others' emotional investment, etc. And some just enjoy trolling as if it is a spectator sport where they flame both sides but without any meaningful contribution of their own towards a resolution.
Sadly, I have not found an approach that works better than to quit the discussion cold turkey.
One possibility is that it's a byproduct of the school system. Most of us spent years at each other's throats in a Lord of the Flies type environment, so it's natural for this behavior to transfer to the internet.
I think it's probably a fine line, but there are "trollish" comments that can be made that aren't even disingenuous, never mind nasty or negative.
The so called old school trolling wasn't about disruptive behavior, it was about getting people to consider thoughts that they aren't necessarily comfortable with. And not necessarily uncomfortable in a dark or disturbing way.
You are shifting the perspective here. Trolling in your sense, as a weak and vile but effective antisocial interaction would be significantly characterized by lacking better traits. Either it's institutional or school can't help with it. This is one of the things school tries to control for, so, if they can't control it, then because it's not from within their institution. Either way you can't just say that without any argument. I don't accept the irony that is mentioning the mandatory literature as an argument.
Since that topic is controversial and the tone mocking, I consider it flame bait. Did you enjoy writing this?
What does forgetting mean here? Is it like forgettable? Google failed me.
This refers to the grandparent comment's quotation of Mike Godwin from his essay kindly submitted here to open the thread, which in full context was, "The internet has been shaping an increasingly international culture and collective memory — with the Holocaust, just as with other countless human atrocities, we have a moral obligation to 'never forget'. My view, which I've held for many decades now, is that glib and frivolous invocations of Hitler, or Nazis, or the Holocaust, are a kind of forgetting."
I read this as Mike Godwin saying that the crimes against humanity that were perpetrated by the Nazis must never be forgotten, so that we guard against the same crimes happening again. But if we just mention Nazis every time we disagree with someone on the Internet, without thinking deeply about whether or not what we are disagreeing with really has anything to do with what the Nazis actually did, then we are nonetheless forgetting the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis. Does that sound like a fair reading of the essay to you?
The way I would sum up Godwin's argument here is that it may be that some current events resemble events of the Nazi era in important ways. As we discuss policy issues online, we have to take care to check our facts and the logic of our own arguments, and if we think something going on today is like the activities of the Nazi Party, then first of all we should review the history and make sure we are correct in our thinking on that point.
By the way, I actually did learn a LOT about the Nazi Party from a thoughtful comment here on Hacker News back in about August 2014, when a reader here mentioned the book series about the Third Reich by British historian Richard Evans, which is well worth a read.
I understand that humour is subjective, and can also be used as a way to cope with or process serious events, but doing so is a difficult needle to thread. Perhaps the difference is if you are using humour as a vehicle instead of the end goal.
While I've been writing this comment, the distribution of comment quality has changed, which is somewhat heartening.
There's that apocryphal statement "fascism will come to America wrapped in a flag". Maybe, maybe not. But I know that if fascism manages to seize absolute power again, and it is getting perilously close with all these far-right governments getting elected all over the place and the ever increasing audacity with which liberal governments bring their weapons down on the human beings that stand in their way, it will do so while shrieking "free speech" all the way. Free speech is such a, such a sacred institution, and it's supposed to keep us safe from tyranny. Just like democratic elections, right?
And everyone will act surprised how suddenly it seems we are in their grips.
Sticking to ideals and trying to have an ideology of "freedom" doesn't stop nazis. Fascists of all stripes need to be treated as engaged in concrete power struggle, not abstract ideological debate.
so perhaps danger of a neo-Nazi movement is lessening while we stay wary and stick to ideals.
By the way, Bershinky's very latest column directly discusses Godwin's Law, the main topic of this thread, and is titled "Comparisons to Hitler Can Be Useful. Discuss."
What he disproved was the corollary, that whoever mentions Nazis has lost and ended the argument. People mistakenly refer to that corollary as "Godwin's law", but that's as far as the conflict goes. There is no disagreement about the statistics. Nazi references will happen in a supermajority of moderately large discussions.
To him, that meant rapists, drug dealers, and murderers, because he's a rich Manhattan/Connecticut conservative, disgusted by and suspicious of people who work with their hands. "The wall" is something that has been added to in a bipartisan way by xenophobes from both sides of the aisle for a couple of decades at this point, and it was somehow used as evidence that he's more racist than the rest of Congress in combination with that remark.
Sadly, it turned out that the image that the media smeared him with was even more attractive to a majority of white American men than the "I make good deals" persona alone, he immediately became unstoppable, and leaned into it as far as he could. Not that I'm saying that he hasn't always been a bit racist (most libertarian conservatives are), but I don't think that it was a dominant part of his worldview, or that he would have ever dreamed of running for President on a primarily racist platform.
Hope I didn't say anything offensive here, I tried to be careful...
I don't quite get this.
What do you mean by "libertarian conservative", and where do you get the idea that most are racist? Libertarians and conservatives might superficially seem to be aligned in many ways, but when you look at it, libertarians align with liberals in just as many ways... so "libertarian conservative" isn't really a meaningful term in the strict sense.
I guess you could say "conservative with some libertarian tendencies", but anyone who is actually a libertarian is pretty much not racist by definition, given that libertarianism is a pretty much a radically individualistic ideology in which skin color, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, etc. play no role at all.
Libertarianism is a radically collective ideology that wishes to shrink government into a police force to protect property, and a totalitarian bureaucracy that catalogs the ownership of every object that its police force can reach. It is an ideology that insists that skin color, ethnicity, race, religion, gender or anything that ever happened in the past play no role at all in the present.
Or rather, that's how I feel about it. And in my experience, all libertarians that I've met have harbored ideas that I think of as racist (even the very nice ones, and very insightful ones), and I've observed that when you see libertarianism grow, you see overt racism grow within its protective bubble.
Facism: Everything in the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.
Semite: a member of any of various ancient and modern peoples originating in southwestern Asia, including the Akkadians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs.
There's no predictive power in the statement whatsoever so it doesn't really tell us anything.
Nazis are an example of ultimate evil, that's why they come up. The law was coined with good intentions but the way people use it drives me batty.
Something even worse happens on Reddit. Whenever anyone mentions Nazis or Hitler, someone is absolutely, certifiably guaranteed to fall over themselves trying to be the first (in the thread; the 876458430854th overall) to post: "Hitler killed Hitler".
Followed inevitably by: "But he also killed the man who killed Hitler".
Censorship of opinion by calling trolls whoever call an argument that is an obvious slippery slope to old nazis argument will not stop people from taking the slippery slope. And also under-educated people using the nazi red flag to apply political correctness censorship.
And well, maybe nazism should be renamed for capsocism when capitalist claiming monopoly should be enforced by states and market negotiation for the workers killed.
We are going back to shit ages. Where birth and so called merit of birth or power worth more than everything.
Sorry mister Godwin, our era is preparing itself for dark ages.
I'd always assumed it was a clever piece of off-the-cuff satire, and related to ill considered or reactionary responses in a debate.
It hadn't occurred to me the whole thing might a po-faced social experiment. Still, history is written by the victors* and all that.
If you think the reduction is inaccurate, then argue the point, but just dismissing it by calling it Godwin's law, in my mind, admits that you don't have an effective counter-argument.
Your question is a bit odd. History is chock full of examples of genocide, ethnic cleansing, slavery, etc.
This is the problem I have with Godwin's Law - sometimes a comparison to Nazis is entirely appropriate.
"If at the beginning of the war and during the war twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the nation had been subjected to poison gas, such as had to be endured in the field by hundreds of thousands of our very best German workers of all classes and professions, then the sacrifice of millions at the front would not have been in vain."
Soviet great purge https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Purge killed ~1 million people, holocaust killed 10x that.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Chinese_Famine killed ~15 million to 43 million, but that's poor policy not gas chambers.
Closest direct comparison is Pol Pot which 'only' killed ~2 million people.
Gas chambers were policy. I guess we greatly forgive incompetence, even as it's forced on people through brutality.
And furthermore, ideology itself doesn't do anything, it's purely abstract. It's entirely possible for two people to adopt the same exact ideas and do things they mutually disagree about.
There are communists who like Mao and stalin. I think they're gross because of it. I follow communist lines of thought that rejected all those dictators out of hand almost immediately.
This sort of genetic fallacy is kind of weak.
That's my point. One suffers guilt by association and its name itself has become a meaningless insult, the other does not and the mere suggestion that one could be against it draws to mind images of Cold War loonies. When in fact, both are (relatively speaking) sound families of ideologies.
I've never met a fascist who didn't want to seize power and execute people like me.
There are communists who, surprisingly, don't want to be dictators. Fascism definitionally requires totalitarian control over society. So do offshoots of Marxism like Leninism (don't worry it's """"transitional""""), but you'd be surprised how little time i give tankies either.
Nothing in there implies genocide, as far as I can tell. Anti-immigration policies that could be perceived as "racist", perhaps, but no genocide! And that's a left-wing slur, not a label that many would choose to use themselves.
>There are communists who, surprisingly, don't want to be dictators.
How can one take the means of production from the capitalists and give them to "the people" without "seizing power"? More generally speaking, how could you ever expect communal ownership and absence of a state to scale with the size of modern societies? And if you don't have these qualities, is it really communism?
The two of you are putting words in my mouth, when I never claimed to be a fascist or a Nazi sympathizer or what have you. But from my perspective, communist strains range from horrifyingly totalitarian and contradictory, to laughably naive, to so close to the status quo as to be meaningless. At least fascist ideologies are forward and internally consist, and sadly, I think, closer to the true nature of the world than we would like to admit.
Do you also find it strange that white people proudly identify as "Americans" without much stigma, even after centuries of racial atrocities by white Americans?
> That's my point.
Your point - as is the point of everyone who trots out the "Communism" is worse than Nazism old chestnut - is to minimise what the Nazis did. And there's only one reason people do that.
The only surprise here, compared to every other Nazi sympathiser online making the same hackneyed "point", is you didn't claim Stalin killed 50/60/100 million people (any number higher than Hitler will do).
Evidently many do, having experienced no shortage of white guilt and self-hating anti-American sentiment in my life.
>Your point - as is the point of everyone who trots out the "Communism" is worse than Nazism old chestnut - is to minimise what the Nazis did.
I wish to do the opposite of minimizing what the Nazis did. I wish to knock naive Che hat-wearing millennials down a peg.
>And there's only one reason people do that.
If you're going to call me a Nazi, I think all I can do is stick out my tongue, call you a commie, and close the tab.
Call me a commie if you like, I'm not ashamed to admit I sympathise with Communist principles (class and race/gender equality, for example) - unlike you, quacking like a fascist but too embarrassed to openly admit it.
The only people I see online making the effort to argue Nazism was not as bad as "X" are Nazi sympathisers/fascists. I mean who else would bother?
If you want to 'take down' a stupid and ridiculous caricature of what a Communist is ("Che wearing millennial" or whatever) you can do it without mentioning Nazis at all.
Instead you chose to take the 'at least the Nazis weren't as bad as the Communists' route. Your other posts here defending fascism don't exactly scream "Not a Nazi-sympathiser" either, so I don't know who you think you're trying to kid.
What happened after the Russian, Chinese or Cuban Revolutions doesn't negate the beliefs behind and reasons for the revolutions themselves (equality and 'the people'), any more than what happened after the American Revolution - almost 100 years of slavery, aggression and "Manifest Destiny" (cf. Lebensraum), followed by another century of racial persecution and overseas aggression/imperialism - negates the ideas and beliefs behind that revolution (equality and 'the people').
What happened in Germany after 1933, however, went exactly according to the Nazi playbook. What happened in Italy and every other fascist country, likewise, went exactly according to fascist principles.
Nobody becomes a Communist because they believe in purges or gulags; and nobody becomes a Nazi or a fascist because they believe in good roads, advanced rocketry or trains running on time.
That's why Nazis and fascists have a stigma attached to them - because the principles behind both are reprehensible to most people.
Actually, they do. The Nazis were admired both before and after the war for their tremendous infrastructural, technological, and social advances (for the races and classes they protected, obviously).
Also, he hasn't written them in a book, it's an off the cuff threat, which makes it less serious, in my opinion.
Certainly there is definitely some routes of comparison between the rise of fascism in 1920s/1930s Europe and the right-wing-populist Trump phenomenon. However, in my mind the past politician that best approximates Donald Trump is Silvio Berlusconi. ("You never know", of course, but at this time I think some of the right wing political groups in Europe are better targets for 1920s-30s European fascism comparisons.)
No it's not. It derives from the word "fasces".
The word "fascism" does not exist in Italian either. We're using English and anglicised words.
The "Fasces" is a group of rods tied together with an axe, dating back to ancient Italian/Roman times, and comes from the Latin fascis ("bundle").
The word fascism no more derives from a political party (which simply pulled the word out of nowhere, did it?) than the words "democrat", "republican" or "communist" do.
Trump/Hitler comparisons are fair game, because what is going on bears a strong resemblance to what happened in Nazi Germany.
If we really mean "never again", that means understanding where the Nazis came from, what they are, and who is following in their goose-steps.
Politics - No, Trump is not the same as Hitler, but there are valid comparisons or parallels; see the videos of his supporters confusing Hitler quotes for his (then again, Trump himself tweeted a Mussolini quote)
I loathe Trump, but that trick works with just about everyone. You take some famous person (Richard Dawkins is a favourite) and find some Nazi / Communist quote and create an image macro.
I'm mildly surprised a troll hasn't had t-shirts and buttons printed, and given them away at rallies.
> (then again, Trump himself tweeted a Mussolini quote)
That's a bit more worrying.
<edit>This has been dubbed Diddly's Law:</edit>
"As the years roll by on the internet, the probability of someone mentioning Godwin once Hitler has been mentioned, is approaching 1."
I think personally think it is a sign of a combination of lack of tact, knowledge and an unwillingness to compromise.
I didn't open link, based on non-nazi references to the page's elements. I have, however, read enough literature on 'lizard brains', group dynamics and human nature to realize we, as a species, need constant reminders of the damage done by our tendencies to oppress & extinguish those who we deem "different".
I assume the "link" is to the article. If so, that's unfortunate, the article was very well written and thought provoking.
The essential message Godwin has tried to impart is the antithesis of "lizard brain" reactivity, to be aware of what we are in fact saying or writing, and appreciate the gravity of invoking the memory of Nazi behavior or holocaust tragedy.
Yes, reminders to refresh consciousness of our tendencies to regress are absolute necessity and constantly useful.
The other reasoning given from our fellow peers that I have heard sounds like that this law was made during the era of quiet bulletin boards, made up of people with a shared mind set, with a shared sense of humour, and the Internet now has changed beyond recognition. Therefore any laws made about the internet back then have no validity.
I would like to suggest that when you consider something no longer valid it could give you pause to think about your reasonings for doing so.
It was never a rule against making comparisons to Hitler, it was an observation that people will do it.
Your people that are arguing it doesn't apply should be saying it's more true than ever or something.
2. Mike Godwin himself says that comparing Trump to Hitler is justifiable. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/12/14/...
3. Usually when I see comparisons of Trump to Hitler, and discussions of whether that comparison is defensible, there's rarely any discussion of how the "present day" changes anything. Godwin does make the point that in 2015, we now have the capability to question poor arguments more effectively. But I've seen basically no arguments that the world is fundamentally different from the past, just that Trump is a fundamentally different demagogue from those we've seen since 1946.
(Or are you claiming that Mike Godwin doesn't actually mean the things that the Washington Post published under his name?)
As longs as it's not a car manufacturer not sharing the GPL-licensed code they did not use. Then it's top posts three days in a row. I mean, a CONFIGURATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM, what's a book, any book, in comparison? Even Gödel, Escher Bach doesn't compile.
* A slave in Scotland
* They knew it was round, damn it
* Two hundred terabyte proof is largest ever (granted, the 200 TB is not what's really interesting here)
* How the ArXiv decides what's science
* Visiting Chelsea Manning in prison
* Hiroshima (1946)
This seems like a healthy mix of topics, and they don't seem to have been deemed worthless.
I have noted a certain amount of hostility to philosophical topics, but I would venture a guess that there's been hostility to philosophy in general at all periods in history.
I expect to see a certain percentage of comments in an HN thread about how the topic is presented. Everybody's got to let off some steam sometimes. I made my initial comment because I was surprised at how many comments addressed only how the topic was presented rather than that and the actual content.
If it's a non-IT topic that comes up more often, it feels like a group identity has the ability to form that's a bit agressive towards anything considered different. I notice it with non-technical approaches, people, groups, institutions, customs, or media, such as social sciences, the UN, Politics, The New Yorker (just made up, don't go searching), Religion (and I even agree on the facts), Teacher, Art (expt. DeepDream), Women (in comment-, not voting power, see early vs. late threats).
But even in these, if people didn't have a chance to form a group opinion because it's rare, the discussion is excellent, and your examples are excellent!
I'll just read the threads a day later after everything has settled and stuff like my comment's been sunk to the graveyard :)
There's also always reddit.
- hosting fees
- office rent
- other staff and expenses
The list goes as:
- subscription (around 2% will pay)
- sell merchandising (might pay coffee budget)
I wonder: do you imply we should make an effort to help all struggling businesses we encounter all the time, or only the ones that do bad things?
The reality may be "No, get another job journalists, the world does not value your contribution in any economically meaningful way."
I have actually two idea that might help transform from advertising:
- sponsored content (I know, it's still advertising, but better), like more PR articles and in depth interviews of product creators. that can't be easily blocked and has some value.
- transforming the brand focus to journalists instead of the main brand. For example I don't really know any New York Times journalists by name, I know a few from the tech sector, but also few. Medium did this in a way, but that's out of control because anyone can share any bullshit there. The solution should be in between, like people would say instead there's a great New York Times article, "John von Foo updated his page on the Times network". The design would also author focused and brands would act as a quality filter.
The last thing aggrandizers of their own words need to be doing is giving me any reason to remember how unnecessary they are to me.
While a different industry, Patreon and Twitch subscriptions seem to work for a lot of people. Although that usually involves only a single person at a time, it is probably at least worth considering to have this option as a content provider these days, as there is definite proof people are willing to pay for content they enjoy.
Even, or maybe especially, if they don't have to. It's a choice to help the creators they care about and enjoy. Not about buying themselves free from ads or whatever.
My personal opinion is that now would be a good time to go down that route.
Perhaps the corporate, 'professional' model of media is simply not viable. Maybe Patreon might work with this, with the future 'journalists' not being corporate employees, but freelancers paid by their fans and the public to report the news.
2% of what? If I'm reading the article you link correctly, those 2% are also the only people who get access to non-paywall content.
I just closed the page and going by your comments I'm glad I did.
NoScript kept me from seeing this or the ads.
The doubly ironic thing would be that the article is mostly about how this is the sort of Hitler comment we should be most annoyed with.
On a side note, the "but we deserve to get paid!" argument is quickly falling on deaf ears. Your company wants to control how my browser renders markup, the answer to which is a hearty GFYS. You want to place an ad or two to cover costs.. fine. You want to abuse my bandwidth, security, and attention? Nah.
Is "never forget" really the best response to a trauma in the first place? I'm not sure this is a settled question. If I'm raped let's say, should I carry that rape vividly in my head every day for the rest of my life, in the hopes of avoiding it in the future? If I do that, haven't I already in fact ruined that future by thinking about the same trauma every day and making it part of my reality? Also, if you believe some people, that which you think about constantly, even for purposes of avoiding it, is exactly what you bring into being, in both subtle and, some say concretely manifest ways.
Maybe instead I should try to forget the incident (knowing I never really will, but letting go of it as much as possible) and move on with my life? Those who are haunted by traumatic memories would probably love to forget them if they had the option.
What if we utterly forgot about Hitler. Would we be worse off, really? Do we NEED to study injustice to learn justice? Do we need to study brutality to learn kindness? Or do we just get our hands dirty by acculturating ourselves to things that are not justice, not kindness? Again I'd say it's far from a settled question.
Recognising a problem, particularly a complex one based in dynamics of a situation, is often difficult. Systemic resposes, feedback, nonlinearity, stocasticity, unknown external inputs, etc., etc., mean that life isn't deterministic. At the same time, there are signs of things Not Going Well.
To take the relationship / rape case, there are red flags and circumstances in which unwanted outcomes are more likely. Knowing these and being aware of them can make all the difference. While catastrophic events can themselves be hugely truamatic, a small action early on can often avoid them.
In complex circumstances where you've got to convince others of the problem, this can be ... complicated.
Ultimately, what you're looking for is the ability to take a traumatic experience and build behavioral responses which avoid it in future. The "never forget* element is part of that -- the size and brightness of the red flag. But responding to that flag appropriately is the other part.
(And if the red flags have white circles and reversed swastikas, pay all the more heed.)
Please follow the HN guidelines and edit this kind of thing out of your comments here.