Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Sticks And Stones

F2C have covered the story of Jon Gaunt, who yesterday lost a court case after calling Redbridge Health Nazi Councillor, Michael Stark, a 'health Nazi'. They are carrying a recording of the subsequent heated Radio 5 interview with Richard Bacon where the latter defends Ofcom's right to censor radio presenters like, err, himself. Well worth a listen if you have 15 minutes or so to spare.

The Beeb have another go at the story on their website today, in an article entitled "Is it ever OK to call someone a Nazi?" where Mike Godwin (Godwin's Law creator) is quoted thus.

"No-one can justify calling someone a Nazi simply because their views differ on matters of healthcare policy," he says. "When you get these glib comparisons you lose perspective on what made the Nazis and the Holocaust particularly terrible."
'Fraid I have to disagree with you there Mike, old chum.

You see, whilst the use of the word 'Nazi' as an insult may be clunky, lazy and even a bit crass, employing the above logic to argue for not using it is rather simplistic.

The slang term 'Nazi' was used by the allies well before the true horrific nature of Hitler's regime was evident. It described those who were members of the party and who, presumably, subscribed to the policies of that party. The Nazis didn't start by rounding up Jews and gassing them, that was merely the long term aim - the final solution. However, prior to that, Jews - and other minorities - were marginalised and judged as a homogenous group based on illegitimate prejudice.

Yes, yes, yes, Dick - I hear you say - we all know that. What's your point?

Well, Godwin is conflating the holocaust (which was, indeed, particularly terrible) with the Nazi ethos of marginalisation of minorities, which was by no means nice, but isn't comparable with later atrocities. There is a difference.

Prior to the concentration camps, Jews were, for example, held up as mean-spirited, ugly and harmful to other citizens via their business dealings. That was a Nazi policy ... to exorcise Jews from polite society whether they be decent people or not, purely on ideological grounds.

Similarly, Michael Stark's policy of excluding smokers as foster parents took no account of the nature of the prospective foster parents, nor did it consider the potential threat to the health of the children. He merely homogenised smokers as a group to be marginalised, and excluded, for dogmatic reasons.

It is very much a Nazi-esque policy.

Add into the mix the fact that Stark also suggested during the interview that Gaunt's aggressive nature could be attributed to the fact that his foster mother was a smoker, and the insult is even more understandable.

Rejecting the term 'Nazi' on the basis that it is supposed to compare with the murder of Jews, rather than the inherent bigotry that led to there, is deep into straw man territory, in my opinion ...

... though some may very well disagree.


The ASI suggests that Jon Gaunts loss is Britain's too.
Longrider says Godwin can stick his law 'where the sun don't shine'


opsimath said...

... though some may very well disagree.

Their number would not include me. Thank you for a well-argued piece of work.

Vladimir said...


One small comment though... I think too much emphasis is placed on genocide and racism as the indicators of Nazi behaviour. These are just symptoms of Nazism. As a general concept, Nazism is what happens when politicians put their idea of the "common good" ahead of individuals, and believe that the role of government is not merely to administrate but rather to save the people from something, by any practical means.

When a modern-day health Nazi brings up the Holocaust as evidence of why they're not a Nazi, they are effectively changing the subject. They might as well say "I'm not a Nazi because I don't wear a swastika". They're deliberately confusing what the Nazi Party actually did with what makes Nazism a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

Smokers are subjected to real hate and persecution in the Uk today. A disproportionate and unnecessary law, that forces people to stand outside public buildings in all weathers is the same as persecution.
I feel the term nazis properly sums up a group that persecutes and discriminates unnecessarily against a single person or another group of people.

Eric Crampton said...

And just yesterday, the New Zealand Labour Party activists' blog was calling the tobacco industry Nazis.

Frank Davis said...

I agree entirely, Dick.

ne slight quibble though. I'm not sure that genocide was actually the long term Nazi plan. One of their early ideas was the Madagascar plan, which was to deport all the Jews to Madagascar.

To the best of my belief, what precipitated the Final Solution was the intrusion of war. At this point, the Madagascar plan became unworkable. The Final Solution seems only to have been adopted in 1942 when Germany was showing signs of beginning to lose the war (the German advance into Russia had been halted, and America had entered the war).

My supposition has been that, as the war intensified, the Nazis decided they had no option but to exterminate the Jews, and lots of other 'degenerate' people, because they felt they could no longer support the burden of housing them and feeding them.

If I'm right about this, then if the Nazis had won the war, the Jews might well have genuinely been 'resettled in the East', and there would have been no Final Solution.

If the same reasoning goes on in the heads of modern antismoking Nazis (and I see no reason why it shouldn't), then they no more have plans to exterminate smokers than the Nazis did. But should we become engaged in a war like WW2, us 'degenerates' will be the first in line for the gas chambers.

And, incidentally, one of the best reasons for calling modern antismokers Nazis is precisely because nearly all the antismoking research methodologies employed by Doll and Hill, Wynder and Graham, had originated in Nazi Germany. Along with smoking bans as well. It's a distortion of history to NOT call them Nazis.

Anonymous said...

The Court, though, didn't take exception to Gaunt's use of the term 'health nazi' but his calling Stark an 'ignorant pig'!


Shug Niggurath said...

I agree too Dick, and have to also say that Godwin's Law is a great example of a straw man being used to stifle dissent.

I've a lefty mate who once tried to invoke it in a robust debate about climate change when I compared greenie utopia with the posters used in Nazi kunst.

Joe Public said...

People have no right to not be offended.

Anonymous said...

There is a silly little myth
floating around that if the
Nazis had invaded .the English
would have resisted,got to be
someone taking the piss,the
English cant even resist a smoking ban let alone a Herd of Huns.
Petrified of a little plasic No Smoking Sign yet take on the
Waffen SS,
you cannot be serious.

Fritz the Schnitz

Anonymous said...

a rose by any other name would smell as sweet


Anonymous said...

Quite interested to know if Dick believes David Cameron to be a nazi for wanting to control the output of youtube, with reference to the outpouring of sympathy for Raoul Moat, which he believes is wrong..

Anonymous said...

sorry.. correction.. not youtube, rather facebook.. (fingers working faster than brain!)

Mrs Rigby said...

Teeny little point about Hitler, the real Nazis and tobacco.

There's this about Hitler's anti-tobacco campaign, which included banning smoking in public buildings.

According to a wiki article

Nazi Germany initiated a strong anti-tobacco movement ... and led the first public anti-smoking campaign in modern history.

So maybe referring to the advocates of anti-smoking legislation and Nazis in the same sentence is quite appropriate - because it's using appropriate historical facts.

Anonymous said...

If anti smokers can be likened to
Nazis why are we being so nice to them or could it be the pro smokers
are just a later version of Chamberlain at Munich in 38
Appeasers then with sheets of paper
now with memory sticks filled
with rhetoric .

Fight or fall.

budgie said...

Whatever they are, they're certainly mad and totally out of control....

Dick Puddlecote said...

Ta for the comments, all. I expected dissenters but happy to abide. ;)

Just a couple of observations.

Vladimir: "... everything you wrote ... "

Brilliantly put. Exactly what I was getting at.

Anon@ 20:21: "Quite interested to know if Dick believes David Cameron to be a nazi for wanting to control the output of youtube"

I think he's wrong if that's what he proposes. Nazi may not be the word in that situation, though. I had planned an article about the Moat stuff which may have raised eyebrows, but Clegg being a twat delayed it. If the debate carries on, I may be tempted to have a bash.

Crampton: Please post the link again as I don't see it.

Furor Teutonicus said...

What is "Godwins law" any way?

It is a method whereby the commy shites can OFFICIALY put paid to any discussion they don't like, by screaming "NAZI!!"

What they do NOT like, is that most of the comparisons between Bolschwik idealism and Nazism ARE relevant, and show the left EXACTLY what they ARE.

They needed something to counter that. and the commy shit Godwin gave it to them.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Here is the link that Crampton highlighted. The article implies that tobacco industry executives should be hanged like those at the Nuremberg trials.


J Bonington Jagworth said...

@Frank Davis

"The Final Solution seems only to have been adopted in 1942 when Germany was showing signs of beginning to lose the war.."

In best Basil Fawlty accent:

"Oh, I see - it's all our fault!"


Smoking Hot said...

@ Mrs Rigby

To say the Nazis were viruently anti-smoking is completely false. Hitler may have disliked smoking and underlings may have promoted anti-smoking as a means of gaining Hitlers approval and recognition but it was never a major doctrine.

lndeed, Eva Braun, Goebbels and Goerring openly smoked in Hitlers presense. Also items for sale today include silver ciarette boxes that were in Hitlers offices, Hitler Youth SS cigarette cases, Gestapo cigarette cases etc. Hitler even presented Otto Skorzeny personally with a white and gold cigarettes case.

Are there ASH similar items for sale? … mmmm, that’s an idea! :)

Godwins Law isn’t a law … it’s simply a statistic dressed up for sheepies