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How to compare someone to Hitler, or not

india Updated: Jul 31, 2011 01:20 IST
Alexandra Petri

There’s something on the internet called Godwin’s Law, which roughly states that as the length of a discussion increases, the probability that someone will be compared to Hitler approaches 1, or 100%. The law’s creator, Mike Godwin, sought to minimize the use of Nazi and Hitler references because their overuse robs valid comparisons of their impact.

If only Glenn Beck had consulted the Internet before making his choice Monday remarks comparing the victims of the Norwegian attack by Anders Behring Breivik to “Hitler youth”. He so often compares people to Hitler that I suspect the next time he does it he's due for a free T-shirt.

In case anyone else is thinking of drawing that comparison, I’ve constructed a guide.

First, sit down. The urge to draw Hitler comparisons is a strange, irresistible impulse that frequently catches people unaware, the way being handed a microphone gives otherwise calm and reasonable individuals an unquenchable desire to deliver racist, sexist, homophobic tirades. Drink something. Wait for the feeling to pass.

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