Internet law expert Mike Godwin invented an online maxim. Godwin’s Law basically says that regarding internet discussions, no matter how innocuous the topic, the longer the conversation lasts, the more probable that someone will bring up Nazi Germany, being worse than Hitler, Goebbels, or SS tactics.
I’m sad to see any book turning to cinders. I have no desire to discuss the book-burning pastor’s checkered past, allegations against him, or the religious implications between faiths and world religions.
I want to help prevent people from violating Godwin’s Law. It’s easy to make a connection between the tome-torching man of faith from Florida and Nazi Germany. Hitler hosted many book burnings. It’s a simple leap. One degree of separation.
But to invoke the Nazis means you are ignoring Godwin’s Law and you immediately lose the argument.
There is a loophole.
When dealing with book burning, otherwise known as libricide, we don’t have to refer to the Nazis at all.
It seems humanity has a rather long and sordid history filled with famous book burners and destroyers. All of these following examples may be cited, instead of the Nazis, when referring to book burning. And you are still poised to win the conversation.
Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered the burning of books in 213 BC.
Alexandrian Bishop Theophilus ordered the burning of heretical books from the Library of Alexandria in 391 AD.
Spanish Conquistadors destroyed many Mayan codexes during the 16th century.
The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice displayed a man burning books on its seal. The organization was founded in 1873 by Anthony Comstock. Comstock himself is credited with burning over 15 tons of books.
This short list should aid you in case you are prone to violating Godwin’s Law. It’s almost knee-jerk to call the opposition a bunch of Nazis. But no one compares people to the Spanish Conquistadors. Enjoy.
I’m off to find a fire extinguisher and look for some modern day book-abusing Emperors.