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Subject:  Re: Smoke, Fire, and Voldemort Date:  4/15/2002  1:32 AM
Author:  jh21045 Number:  122827 of 278659 this point all that LV has done was go after a website selling a product without an agreement or liscense. If they try to come over here and stop Radish or the posting then a very different issue will occur. At that time IMO it might be the time to go after those weasels or come up with workaround. But until that happens, I wouldn't worry, or become too reactionary...
Reminds me of the worlds response to the Nazi's "final solution." I think we need to appoint someone to represent us and deal upfront with VL now. If VL is behind this we need to face it and deal with them. Sticking our head in the sand won't work.
While I know it was not your intent, but simply a result of your passion about the recent turn of events for IllinoisGem, I find your use of that analogy totally offensive. Its use in reference to something so relatively small cheapens your own argument, but more importantly disrepects all victims of the war or any war. ...I know you didn't mean any offense, but it was taken.

What follows is completely Off Topic philosophy, so ignore at your pleasure.

I cringed when I read mjcalab's Nazi metaphor. I wasn't precisely offended, but I knew he had crossed the line. You can't bring Nazi-ism into a discussion without completely diluting your point and (rightly) offending people - either you're blowing the behavior of your rhetorical target way out of proportion by equating their behavior with truly monstrous evil, or you're trivializing the brutal horror of Nazi-ism. Or both. (I guess a valid exception is if you're talking about real genocide.)

Yet the interesting things is, how easily Nazi metaphors come to mind. They are distressingly often the first, best example that comes to mind when your're writing. I knew exactly what mjcalab meant - didn't you? - and I knew how he came to bring the Nazi's into the picture. Why do Nazi comparisons come so easily to us?

WWII is the single largest event in the history of the 20th Century, or perhaps in the history of the world. John Keegan makes this point in the introduction to his history of the war, and to prove his point he rattles off the numbers of participants and the number of countries involved and the number of continents on which the war was waged. Clearly it will leave a significant mark on our culture, and any lessons it teaches will be pretty deeply ingrained in us.

One of the most important of those lessons is the principle that appeasement fails. We in the West have that lesson burned deep into us: and WWII is the single best, only necessary example for the principle. Appeasement fails. Also captured in that well-known saying that goes something like, "When they came for my neighbor I did not complain, and when they came for my brother I did not complain, and now they've come for me there's no one left to complain." The notion that you have to stand up against injustice while it's still "small", or when it's directed against your neighbors but not (yet) at you.

We have learned this lesson so well that we recognize this central principle everywhere - even in matters very small, like Lord Voldemort shutting down GEM. Someone suggests that LV shutting down GEM isn't so bad, we should ignore it and go about our business, they haven't shut us down: and we catch the resemblence to the flawed appeasement logic. We're alert to this, sensitized to it. And when we recognize it, we point it out. When we go to point it out, and we reach for a metaphor - the only one we have, the only one that comes easily to hand, is the Nazi metaphor. It's so huge it dominates our thinking on this issue, blots out other possible metaphors. And it's so huge, it's like swatting a mosquito with a cudgel: you get the bug, but you'll also break the person's arm that the bug is resting on.

Barry, I don't think mjcalab "meant" to do it; and my impression is the last thing he wanted to do was cheapen the memory of the victims of that war. The origin of the "appeasement fails" lesson was obviously very clear to him, and the seriousness of it as well. It's just that, when you're talking about appeasement and you reach back to draw a comparison - there's really only one to make. I think it's going to be a long time before we come up with some other way of thinking and talking about the whole "stick you head in the sand and hope they don't bother you too" thing. Until we do, Nazi comparisons are going to come oh-too-easily to hand. Heck, maybe that's not a bad thing: it shows that the lessons from those times are still with is.

Oops, I'm not condoning the use of Nazi metaphors. It's very bad practice, insulting both to the target of your comparison and the victims of those war crimes. I'm just saying, I can understand how someone would think to make the comparison.



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