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Godwin's Law, Ohio, guns, Obama and Hitler

Tom Jackson • Jan 24, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Godwin's Law has come to the Buckeye state.


If you've never heard of Godwin's Law, you will need to know that it was formulated by Mike Godwin, an attorney and Internet freedom expert. It essentially states that as a political discussion on the Internet continues, the probability that someone will bring up Adolf Hitler approaches a near certainty.


Godwin's Law came to Ohio a few days ago when the president of the state school board, Debe Terhar, posted a photo of Adolf Hitler and commentary criticizing President Obama's gun control proposals. 


"She said her aim was to encourage historical reflection amid the gun-control debate, not to compare Obama to the Nazi leader," according to the AP's report on the case. 


Democrats have called the posting offensive.


Gun owners feel under siege, so naturally they are tempted to bring up the fact that Hitler disarmed the Jews.


Salon ran an article, "The Hitler gun control law," which accused gun buffs of distorting Hitler's record on gun control. But the article includes this amazing sentence: "The law did prohibit Jews and other persecuted classes from owning guns, but this should not be an indictment of gun control in general."


He only took away guns from the millions of people he murdered, so quit bringing it up, gun nuts! 


It surprises me Salon would publish this piece. There's more on this issue from the Libertarian Standard.


That said, bringing Hitler into the discussion seldom encourages constructive discussion. It probably doesn't "encourage historical reflection."  And in point of fact, Obama hasn't proposed disarming everyone, so it's a pretty terrible comparison. He's proposing certain restrictions, but his plan won't keep guns out of the hands of any adult who isn't a criminal or insane. That hardly constitutes disarmament.


The proposed ban on "assault weapons" seems unlikely to have much effect on gun deaths, by the way. (Here is a PolitiFact piece that grudgingly admits that rifles account for only a small number of gun deaths in America.) To really make a dent in gun deaths, the U.S. would have to massively reduce the number of guns in the U.S. I'm not clear on how to do that without becoming like a police state.


I'll probably post more on the gun issue, unless I come to my senses first.


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