Thursday, March 26, 2009

Godwin's Law in Tennessee

A.C. Kleinheider:
In the unwritten rules of online political debate there is an axiom. It is called Godwin's Law and it states, according to Wikipedia, that "the person who first makes an unwarranted reference to Nazi Germany or Hitler in an argument loses that argument automatically."
By any definition opponents of state Sen. Dewayne Bunch were well within their rights to invoke the rule during the senator's performance last week on the floor of the state Senate. . . .
"[I]f you’re trying to be the nutritional Nazi police on school campuses, then we need to have someone there to keep them from buying more than one product if it's eight ounces. If there's an issue of nutrition, with buying two — they can simply buy two and circumvent that," stated Bunch. . . .
Examining the video from the proceedings, Bunch is clearly nonplussed by his own words. A colleague, however, Sen. Tim Burchett, seated behind him reacts and winces visibly when Bunch makes his utterance. Why? Was it his dismay at the debate tactics Bunch was engaged in? Was Burchett upset about the decline in the discourse?
No, the animated reaction by Burchett was because his colleague's opponent in debate that day was Sen. Andy Berke, the chamber's only Jewish member.
Oops. A Godwin's Law violation is always a disqualifier, but doing it in debate with a Jewish person can get you tarred-and feathered. The denouement:
Of course, upon realizing that a gaffe was made, Bunch quickly asked forgiveness and apologized to both Senator Berke and the full Senate explaining that he had no idea that Berke was Jewish. Bunch assured folks that he was merely referencing the 'Soup Nazi' character from the popular television show Seinfield, not authentic National Socialists.
Right. The term "Nazi," when modified as Bunch used it ("nutritional Nazi police") is clearly not meant as a literal analogy to genocidal tyrrany, but rather to the kind of fanatical intolerance for dissent that Limbaugh implies by the term "femi-Nazi." Thus, though Bunch's remark might have been thoughtless, he did not actually violate Godwin's law. Next time, Sen. Bunch, try "food fascists."


  1. Exactly. See my post on the Bond market going Wobbly....

  2. As the husband of a German woman, I can add the acronym for the National Socialist Workers Party is the "N word" of Deutschland. You just don't use it in polite conversation to refer to anyone, even slightly in jest.
    Gestapo is an acceptable substitute.

  3. Both Senators are friends of mine, but the more libertarian by far is Sen. Bunch.