The Washington Post

How to compare someone to Hitler, for Glenn Beck and anyone else

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. In discussion, invoking Godwin’s Law means that whoever was the first to draw a comparison to Nazis automatically loses the argument. It’s a good rule.

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.” But Glenn Beck so seldom consults anyone. He so often compares people to Hitler that I suspect the next time he does it he’s due for a free T-shirt.

Still, 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 unawares, 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.

If it doesn’t, consult this chart.

Miss Manners never had to do this.

I hope this helps! My sympathies are with everyone in Norway.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".


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