PSA: Use Genghis Khan To Avoid Godwin’s Law

Since we live in, as the comedic show Futurama called it, the Stupid Ages, where an astonishing number of people are willing to admit the evil of only truly extraordinary cases, it is very tempting when trying to have a discussion of a moral subject to invoke Adolph Hitler and the Nazi party. Unfortunately, Mike Godwin ruined this by coining Godwin’s Law. If you’re not familiar, Godwin’s Law states:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

Godwin claims that he set out to try to reduce the incidence of glib Nazi comparisons, but I think that his main supporters are people who really don’t like the ability to clearly and unambiguously point out an instance of evil. This is a different time and place to when Godwin coined it, but certainly the majority of times I’ve seen it invoked is as a defense against thinking.

It occurred to me recently, though, that Genghis Khan works approximately as well as Hitler for a person who did what is (almost) universally acknowledged to be great evil while he thought that he was doing good. He’s not interchangeable with Hitler in all contexts, but he is in an awful lot of them. Where he is, you will probably save yourself some trouble while trying to stimulate thinking. Since he’s not quite as well known as Hitler, though, I do recommend always mentioning that he raped an awful lot of people. That will insure that people will think of him in the correct frame of mind.

(Note: this way not work as well in Mongolia, but you probably won’t need to do this as much in Mongolia anyway.)

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