It’s time for a new version of Godwin’s Law, this one applying to slavery analogies

By Craig McDermott, crossposted from Random Musings

With internet-based political discussions (and real world ones, too), there is a “law” called “Godwin’s Law”.

The definition, according to

A term that originated on Usenet, Godwin’s Law states that as an online argument grows longer and more heated, it becomes increasingly likely that somebody will bring up Adolf Hitler or the Nazis. When such an event occurs, the person guilty of invoking Godwin’s Law has effectively forfieted [sic] the argument.

Basically, a “Nazi” or “Hitler” analogy is used when a person involved in an argument wants to associate something they disagree with to what was recognized as perhaps the greatest evil of the 20th century.

Thanks to the push back over the use of that tactic (basically, the users lose all credibility), desperate debaters started searching for another over-the-top analogy to use, one that hadn’t developed the rhetorical baggage of the “Nazi” analogy.

Apparently, they have found one.

America’s “Peculiar Institution“, slavery.


…Sometimes it’s Republican women in Oklahoma equating the social safety net to the ropes used in lynchings…

…Sometimes it’s Sarah Palin comparing deficit spending and the national debt to slavery…

…Sometimes it’s Ben Carson expounding his position that Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery…

…Sometimes it’s Rand Paul likening a Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of Obamacare to pro-slavery decisions of previous courts, such as in the Dred Scott case…

…Or maybe even sometimes it’s someone like Trent Franks declaring that African-Americans were better off being slaves than living in modern society…

There are many examples, too numerous to list them all here, but the latest example shows that the trend is continuing unabated.

Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Theocracy Policy (CATP) issued a press release against Planned Parenthood, likening abortion to the slave trade.

From her press release

…Children are not commodities to be bought and sold – like the slave trade.

Yes, they went there.  They even put it in the headline –


They (meaning CATP) tweeted about this, pushing the press release.  Naturally, I responded to the tweet with my natural, and naturally profound, wit 🙂 –

6 thoughts on “It’s time for a new version of Godwin’s Law, this one applying to slavery analogies”

  1. I seem to recall that the terms “Hitler” and “Nazis” were worn out being used in reference to the Bush #2’s Administration by the left. AZBlueMeanie can’t resist referring to Cathy Herrod’s organization as the “Christian Taliband”. And even you had to take a swipr at Herrod by including “Theocracy” in the title of her organization. I don’t expect balance on this Blog…I just wanted to remind everyone that no one corners the market on Godwin’s Law.

    • Steve, Herrod et. al. (and you, apparently) can call the organization whatever you want. I will call it what it is, and it is all about imposing theocratic rules upon civil society.

  2. Or calling conservative blacks Uncle Toms.

    Or Harry Reid comparing Republican health care foes to those who clung to the institution of slavery


    Please Craig, how about a little balance.

    • Point taken, John. The only things like slavery and the Holocaust are slavery and the Holocaust. No one should be making these comparisons.

      • Agreed. It also muddies the debate by creating associations that are not accurate and it evokes emotional responses that can crowd out logic.

    • Short reply: What Donna said.

      Longer reply: These kinds of analogies are rhetorically over-the-top, intellectually lazy, and utterly unacceptable, regardless of the partisan affiliation (if any) of the user.

      As bad as some of these were (including the ones you mentioned), the press release from Cathi Herrod’s group is worse because some time and thought went into it, and presumably, more than one person had some input into its content.

      In other words, they thought about it, and calmly, coolly, and calculatingly went there.

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