Godwin’s Law states that, the longer an internet disagreement goes on, the greater the chance that someone will compare something or someone to Adolf Hitler, or a Nazi.
The internet adage argues that if you mention Hitler or Nazis in an online discussion, you have basically ended the whole discussion. They is no point to continue the discussion any further.
The action of calling someone/something Hitler is called “using the Nazi card”. It is a point of weakness in most people, as no one would dare to defend Hitler and his actions.
“Reductio ad absurdum”, is the Latin name of the argument form where you reduce something to absurdity. In 1951, Leo Strauss coined the term “reductio ad Hitlerum”, meaning, reducing someone/something to Hitler.
The argument method is effective, as it is hard to argue against such an appeal to the extremes.
In 1990, attorney Mike Godwin was annoyed by how online discussions would more often than not end in someone bringing up Hitler and Nazism.
He wanted to counter the phenomenon, and starting with online discussion board, he started spreading his discovery and named it “Godwin’s Law”.
Godwin put seeds of his law into various other discussion boards and platforms, and by 1991, “Godwin’s Law” spread out by itself.
In 2012, “Godwin’s Law” was included in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Spread and Usage
The meme has been published in newspapers such as Wired and The Washington Post, and the search for the term seems to repeatedly peak during presidential elections.
“Godwin’s Law” has even become an indicator whether a discussion or argument has gone on way too long and should just be closed off.
The golden rule of the Law is that the person who makes the first Hitler comparison, loses.
This is due to the desperation in making such a comparison, and general laziness by not being able to provide a good argument.