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View Full Version : Invoking Godwin's Law



Mr Underhill
05-20-2005, 07:15 AM
This new creation, VOTE_BOT, has so far been only mildly annoying, and I understand the desire to remind AbWriters to vote in the AI contest. However, the graphic that is currently attached to it is inexcusable.

Normally I am the very last on a board to bestir myself in the interest of the "politically incorrect" whether it be offensive to left, right, up or down.

But still.

We have just passed the 60th anniversary of the defeat of fascism in Europe, an accomplishment of which millions of living men and women can justly be enormously proud. In the shadow of that, to compare, even lightly, the nonparticipation of board denizens to book burning by National Socialists in Germany seven decades ago is simply inexcusable.

The apathy and anti-intellectual and anti-scientific thought control of that regime led to the mass slaughter of some twenty million humans. Six million Jews. One million Rom. Slavs, political dissidents, communists, homosexuals. People whose only crime was to be born to certain ethnic groups, or to have political views or lifestyles deemed undesirable by The State and its Leader.

Really. Use of this image to promote an internet contest is seriously inappropriate. Please pull it, and when you do, you may yank this thread as well.

Mr Underhill
05-20-2005, 08:12 AM
The picture has now been pulled.

Thank you.

Mods, you may yank this thread at your discretion.

VOTE_BOT
05-20-2005, 08:55 AM
Vote_Bot has been retired and all messages have been deleted.

Vote_Bot was strictly a guerilla marketing campaign carried out by a member of the community and was in no way sanctioned by or affiliated with the fine people who run this board.

mdin
05-20-2005, 09:44 AM
What the heck was vote bot's avatar before?

Mr Underhill
05-20-2005, 10:32 AM
Vote_Bot has been retired and all messages have been deleted.

Vote_Bot was strictly a guerilla marketing campaign carried out by a member of the community and was in no way sanctioned by or affiliated with the fine people who run this board.

Actually I had no problem with VOTE_BOT itself. Only a mild annoyance, and in a good cause.

Navvie, it wasn't the avatar. The sig originally had an exhortation to vote in the latest Absolute Idol round. As I said, a worthwhile reminder.

But sometime late in the evening the slogan "You don't HATE Literature, do you?" was added, with a large B&W photo of a Nazi book burning. As I said, not even remotely funny.

Oddly enough, I don't object to invoking comparisons to fascism in political discourse, but the person doing so had better back it up. I feel that we can judge for ourselves whether the comparison is warranted, strained, or more frequently the product of a lamentable ignorance of recent history.

But it should never be used gratuitously.

Also, I should perhaps clarify that while I am not Jewish myself (to the best of my knowledge), if the ADL had found the posted picture they would rightly condemn it, resulting in adverse publicity for the board.

Jenna did the "absolute right" thing by nixing it as soon as she was informed. Bravo.

JennaGlatzer
05-20-2005, 01:50 PM
Thanks. I know Vote_Bot meant no harm, though. Perhaps not the best-thought-out picture to use... but not meant to offend.

That said, GIT OVER TO THE THREAD AND VOTE! ;) Don't let these writers down. Only 7 finalists left, so it won't take long to read the entries, and if enough people vote, maybe Vote_Bot can take a vacation next round!

VOTE_BOT
05-20-2005, 03:53 PM
While Vote_Bot does regret causing any offense, Vote_Bot would also hasten to point out that fascist iconography has been used as a basis for humor by the likes of Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Matt Parker and Trey Stone, to name but a few.

Nevertheless, this board is private property and Vote_Bot has no desire to disrupt the comunity or tarnish the reputation of the people here, regardless of how knee-jerk he may feel such virulent objections to it are.

In retrospect, Vote_Bot realizes he should have gone with the much less politically-charged "Everytime You Miss a Vote, God Kills a Puppy" campaign.

DaveKuzminski
05-20-2005, 04:07 PM
Does it appear to anyone that those who invoke Godwin's Law are sometimes fascist in their desires to prevent some images from being used? There are times when it seems to me that the individuals who use that are trying to stifle other views. Even worse, I sometimes get the impression that they're trying to bury the past so it can be ignored and forgotten when it should never be. After all, some of those terrible events came about through the confluence of many smaller events that by themselves didn't appear at first to have as much significance as we now recognize.

So yes, it is appropriate for someone to use an image of book burning to remind others that it's important to vote, even in something as seemingly insignificant as a writing contest. We're trying to expand writing horizons, not limit those to a narrow stripe in the middle of the road.

VOTE_BOT
05-20-2005, 07:00 PM
The image was intended to provoke, sure, but it was also framed in a way so hyperbolic that Vote_Bot found it difficult to fathom that anyone would view as anything other than humor.

But, humor is indeed subjective, and outrage and indignation are such common currency. A volatile mix.

Mr Underhill
05-21-2005, 12:38 AM
There are times when it seems to me that the individuals who use that are trying to stifle other views. Even worse, I sometimes get the impression that they're trying to bury the past so it can be ignored and forgotten when it should never be. After all, some of those terrible events came about through the confluence of many smaller events that by themselves didn't appear at first to have as much significance as we now recognize.Yes I have observed that phenomenon myself. Believe me that is far from my motivation. Quite the opposite. And my use of the phrase "Godwin's Law" was facetious, since in fact this "law" says something very different from most people think it does.


While Vote_Bot does regret causing any offense, Vote_Bot would also hasten to point out that fascist iconography has been used as a basis for humor by the likes of Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Matt Parker and Trey Stone, to name but a few.Again, I have no problem with reminding people of the evils of fascism - you can check my stories on the Just For Fun thread for an example.

I have no problem with Mel Brooks or the fake play "Springtime for Hitler" in The Producers, or other humorous examples. These are things that mock the Nazi movement and fascism, which is a valid way to respond to something which is still with us and still very much a threat. The casual use here trivializes it, implying that such things are no more serious than "puppies" as you put it.

To be honest, I didn't even have a problem with Prince Harry dressing up as a Nazi at a costume party. But I absolutely understood why people found it offensive. In fact their reasoning was essentially the same as mine here. But it was a costume party after all. (Though it was a rather lame costume.)

If anyone is truly unclear of the difference between use in satire or in proper context and casual use here, and why the latter is inappropriate, perhaps you should contact the ADL for further explanation.

I have less cause than some to be offended by this, but even I found it to be out of bounds. And I know I am not the only one here. Trust me, you don't want to take a cavalier attitude toward this issue.

VOTE_BOT
05-21-2005, 02:33 AM
Vote_Bot is of the opinion that the depiction of book burning has far less to do with Nazi doctrine towards Jews than it does with the suppression of intellectualism, which is supported by instances of book burning that have occurred on multiple continents and against multiple modes of expression, including religious expression, secular humanism and, one might argue in this case, against the free use of imagery in satire.

While Vote-Bot is impressed with the gall it takes for one to annoint oneself as the arbiter of what qualifies as valid satire, Vote_Bot does not need a history lesson, nor the counsel of the ADL, in order to maintain perspective on this issue.

And Vote_Bot certainly never even mildly insinuated any parity between victims of the Holocaust and puppies and resents such an obvious straw man.

astonwest
05-21-2005, 03:37 AM
To be honest, I didn't even have a problem with Prince Harry dressing up as a Nazi at a costume party. But I absolutely understood why people found it offensive. In fact their reasoning was essentially the same as mine here. But it was a costume party after all. (Though it was a rather lame costume.)

You didn't have a problem with the future King of England glorifying or romanticizing (or whatever it was he was trying to do) Nazis, but a problem with a picture of a book burning as trivializing?

"...it was a costume party after all."

This was a vote for a writing contest, after all...

I guess I just don't understand...

brokenfingers
05-21-2005, 03:37 AM
Hmmmm, I'm gonna give my input - which doesn't really mean much, but I've just gotten home and I need to warm up before I write Ė so here goes.

I admit Iím a little confused on this issue. Realize now - Iím an American and an ex-Marine and an ex-New Yorker, so that may have something to do with it. Let me also state that I like Mr. Underhill and have no problem with him at all. I just wonder if he might be a little over-sensitive on the issue.

I do not see what the problem is showing a picture of Nazis burning books or see how any group can be offended by that.

I could understand if a pictures of death camp horrors were shown, or if the image of some of the victims of Nazism were shown, but that wasn't the case. The only victims shown here were books.

How is that insensitive to any particular group (besides books?) And what about movies and video games that depict Nazis purely for entertainment and personal profit? Why is it OK for them to depict Nazis and their horrors for personal gain, yet AW cannot depict them burning a book for a non-profit and minor cause that concerns books?

I also must confess confusion to how you can see a problem with that and not with Prince Harry dressed as a Nazi since he is a public figure, a public representative of a nation that suffered greatly from Nazism. He is basically saying: Hey, look at me! Iím out for a night of fun and Iím a Nazi!! Wanna party?! You donít feel that trivializes it?

Yes, Nazism was an affront to civilization and was evil. And there are still places on this earth where itís flame still smolders. But does that mean we should eradicate all records of its existence? Should we burn all the pictures and words that tell of this despicable belief and its effects? Should we tiptoe around it?

When should we show pictures of books being burned? Who decides when itís appropriate? How can the ADL or any organization (besides the Nazis) say that a picture of Nazis burning books is offensive to them. Or that they must first approve before such a picture is shown.

If anything we should show the pictures Ė as a reminder of what apathy can do. As a reminder of what happens when certain attitudes take hold. Like:

Oh, itís not my problem, I donít care. Let the world go on around me.

or

Do not show these pictures!! We deem them unviewable! Verboten!

The photo is fact. Books, meaning ideas, were outlawed and burned. We are writers. Books and ideas are our livelihood. Do we not have a right to show the effects of apathy to our livelihood? Should we forget? Should we cower in the shadows Ė afraid and unwilling to face the past? Afraid and unwilling to face the truth? Afraid of what others might say?

Since when has a true writer not shown a facet of truth just because they were afraid of what others might say? Of what others might think?

Nazism, fascism, totalitarianism, communism Ė the seeds for their abuse begins when the writers; the spreaders of ideas, the sharers of dreams, the scribes of truths begin to fear.

Maybe itís just me, but I donít believe writers Ė or any group for that matter Ė should fear the truth.

Now Iím off to writeÖ

Fractured_Chaos
05-21-2005, 03:57 AM
My opinion?

The book-burning pic here, and Prince Harry's Nazi uniform for the party were both tasteless and tacky. But no one ever said being tasteless and tacky was illegal, or verbotten.

Most you'll get from me will be a rolling of the eyes, and a shake of the head.

Mr Underhill
05-21-2005, 04:54 AM
Here's my new idea for how to get more votes for the AI round.

Instead of a negative, I'd like to portray things in a positive light. I want people to feel the love for AI contestants. And to get a sense of excitement over the fine work they are doing.

What's a good image to get that across? I know! I'll post a hardcore porn picture all over the threads, with the slogan "Feel the Love!"

C'mon, what's wrong with that?

Then when people take me to task over it, I'll come on the thread and roll my eyes and say "Oh absolutely I'm sorry that people are such prudes around here. Guess some people don't know how to take a joke..."

Yeah, that'll win me a lot of friends. That'll be good for the board.

So go ahead. I'm not the thought police. I believe far more strongly in freedom of expression than you do. So much I believe it includes confronting people in no uncertain terms when they screw up.

But don't let me stop you. Please. Go right ahead and post pictures of Nazis all over the board. I've said my piece, now have fun.

VOTE_BOT
05-21-2005, 05:07 AM
I don't think you're a prude. And I have no desire to see you silenced.

I do, however, doubt that you value free expression any more than I do. I think you took a stand and your stand has been debated and now you've ventured from history to histrionics.

No one's persecuting you, and no one has endorsed what I did.

They're just not ready to burn up the phone lines to the Simon Wiesenthal Center over it.

brokenfingers
05-21-2005, 05:16 AM
If it is a personal matter, I understand. I have no problem being sensitive to a person's stated personal feelings on a photo. If nazi's or books being burned affect your sensibilities for some particular, personal reason - that's one thing.

Nazis are a matter of history and the display of them and their acts as a tool for prevention of such further acts is not illegal. Pornography is another matter.

But, really, it's no big deal. My point is really against the craziness of political correctness, over-sensitivity by some segments of society and the vague fear we seem to carry with us anymore that someone might be offended - by someone I mean along the lines of the warnings on coffee cups that it might be too hot and warnings on hammers that they are not intended for use on your head etc. - that type of thing that has seemed to pervade our society today and stifled people from being honest and confronting issues.

In other words - just ignore me. I'm just an opinionated writer.

trumancoyote
05-21-2005, 06:56 AM
Hyperbole is the height of sarcastic humor. I didn't see it, but it sounds funny to me :)

But then, I'm not well known for my sensitivity....

astonwest
05-21-2005, 07:39 AM
What's a good image to get that across? I know! I'll post a hardcore porn picture all over the threads, with the slogan "Feel the Love!"

I think that's a great idea...we could photoshop in books over the critical areas...

"Feel the Love! Click Here!"

Bound to get a few folks to venture in...VOTE_BOT, are you all over that for next time?

:)

brokenfingers
05-21-2005, 07:43 AM
LOL! The funny thing is - I think that would work!

Scantily clad women and men with click me bars over the crucial spots?....

Hey, they say sex sells. I know it works for every other advertising company in the world...

Celeste
05-21-2005, 08:14 AM
But then, I'm not well known for my sensitivity....

Well, there's one sensitive spot you told me about, Zach. ;)

JoniBGoode
05-21-2005, 09:43 PM
[QUOTE=VOTE_BOT]While Vote_Bot does regret causing any offense, Vote_Bot would also hasten to point out that fascist iconography has been used as a basis for humor by the likes of Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Matt Parker and Trey Stone, to name but a few.
QUOTE]

Yes, and all of those people did it well. Part of the reason Vote_bots posting was so extremely offensive (I'm only 1/8 Jewish) is because it wasn't funny.Certainly, when Brooks, et al made those references, they were intentionally using 'edgy' material. V_B seems to be clueless about the signifigance. It appears that he/she simply did an internet search for a 'book burning' image, and pasted it.

I am all for using Nazi iconograpy meaningfully, to comment on or prevent fascist acts. I'm NOT for the mindless use V_B indulged in. It simply cheapens the sacrifice and suffering of millions of people.

I think as writers, most AWs are extremely sensitive to the images we invoke. We realize that thoughtfully choosing verbal pictures to express our exact meaning is an essential writer's tool. Vote_bot failed to do this in any way that was meaningful or funny.

I totally agree with Mr. Underhill that failure to vote on the AW Idol contest is in no way comparable to the Nazi atrocities, and to suggest so is disgusting.

This use of this graphic was not what I have come to expect from the thoughtful, intelligent AW community.

VOTE_BOT
05-21-2005, 09:55 PM
This use of this graphic was not what I have come to expect from the thoughtful, intelligent AW community.

Again, may I stress, the community did not "use" the graphic. One member did, for about an hour and in a context that was intentionally humorous. Your contention that it was not funny is not shared by others who obviously thought it was.

Again, I am amused by those who can make grand pronouncements on what, and what is not, satire and what is, and what is not, funny. Your neck must be very sore from carrying around a head laden with all that wisdom.

It is good to know that, in a time when the manufacturing sector is down, the cottage industry of manufactured outrage thrives.

Yours in Christ,

Vote_Bot

Celeste
05-21-2005, 10:11 PM
Again, may I stress, the community did not "use" the graphic. One member did, for about an hour and in a context that was intentionally humorous. Your contention that it was not funny is not shared by others who obviously thought it was.

Again, I am amused by those who can make grand pronouncements on what, and what is not, satire and what is, and what is not, funny. Your neck must be very sore from carrying around a head laden with all that wisdom.

It is good to know that, in a time when the manufacturing sector is down, the cottage industry of manufactured outrage thrives.

Yours in Christ,

Vote_Bot

Vote Bot,

I'm with ya'! Whether it caused a fuss, or not, look at it this way... It definitely got peoples attention! I bet the votes will be higher this week. Lol...:Thumbs:

Personally, I didn't find it offensive. But that's just me. I have a twisted sense of humor, anyway.

MacAllister
05-21-2005, 10:21 PM
Okay--deep breath, everyone.

Mr. Underhill was offended by the use of the image. So was Joni. They have every right to be offended.

Trumancoyote was NOT offended. Neither was I. I actually thought it was sort of funny, too. At least in part because of the significant difference in import between an organized book-burning staged by a political party, and failure to vote in a messageboard contest. I thought that radical inequality in the comparison made its own point.

My point is that everyone's sensibilities are different. Regardless, Vote_Bot has apologized and self-edited the posts in question.

Please in NO way construe this post to mean that I endorse book-burnings, Nazism, or concentration camps. I do not.



Now, I'm all for a stimulating discussion about where good taste ends, and pc-censorship begins--but let's be careful about the "I'm right and you're a moron for disagreeing" overtones.

maestrowork
05-21-2005, 10:42 PM
I had no problem with the image myself, although I did find the message popping up everywhere slightly annoying. ;)

What scares me is the actual book and media burning happening now in our own country. Congress advocating banning books from schools and libraries and stores. The stomping and burning of Dixie Chick's CDs...

It really scares me.

I digress...

JoniBGoode
05-21-2005, 11:06 PM
Okay--deep breath, everyone.

Now, I'm all for a stimulating discussion about where good taste ends, and pc-censorship begins--but let's be careful about the "I'm right and you're a moron for disagreeing" overtones.

Point well taken. I should have said I didn't find the original Vote_Bot message funny. Perhaps it was as humorous as Seinfeld or Brooks, to others, and I simply missed it.

Maestro said- What scares me is the actual book and media burning happening now in our own country. Congress advocating banning books from schools and libraries and stores. The stomping and burning of Dixie Chick's CDs...

I absolutely agree. My local library has a great way to counteract such narrow-mindness. They have a display of "Banned" books, CDs, etc., and they are some of the most popular items. The librarian told me many people check out books simply because they HAVE been banned somewhere.

I'm not for mindless political correctness and uniformity. I just think we should thoughtfully employ images to powerfully express our opinions and intent.

VOTE_BOT
05-31-2005, 11:33 PM
Just a Friendly Reminder

http://www.clontarfflorist.com/shop/flowers/t_12_roses_and_teddy_bears.jpg


AW Idol Round 5

Voting is Underway


Read (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12881) and Vote (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums...ewpm&userid=201)


Love,

Vote_Bot


Gently Reminding People to Vote

Without Offending Them for

1

Day

oswann
06-02-2005, 11:36 AM
And 'BOT' sounds a little like bottom to me which is also a bit rude.



Os.

astonwest
06-02-2005, 03:12 PM
Sigh...Vote Bot is bowing to THE MAN'S wishes...

*shakes head*

p.s. what happened to the idea I gave earlier in this thread?