“Godwin’s Law”, Catholic variant

“Godwin’s Law”, Catholic variant

Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia recently proposed a Catholic variant on Godwin’s Law. For those of you who don’t know, Godwin’s Law states that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

Jay’s version says:

As a debate involving the Catholic Church (either a discussion about the Church specifically, or a discussion in which the Church is taking a position) grows longer, the probability of someone mentioning the sex scandal approaches one.

And then there’s it’s corollary: Once such reference to the Scandal is made, whoever mentioned the Scandal has automatically “lost” whatever debate was in progress.

Finally, let’s not forget the codicil known as the “Time Better Spent Fallacy”: The Church has enough things to worry about and can better spend its time on cleaning up its own messes rather than on [fill in the blank].

Boy, isn’t that true. You see it so often not just in news reports, but in letters to the editor, in liberal Catholic dissents from Church teaching, and of course in blog comments. And it’s all just as big a rhetorical fallacy as the original Godwin’s Law.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • Did you see the shoot out between Fr Eutenuer (sp?) Pres of HLI and Sean Hannity? Fr was well spoken, and much though I want to like Sean this was the bulk of his response. I know, I know Sean often uses his words more to slay than intelligently discuss, but he did go down this path.

  • “… the probability of someone mentioning the sex scandal approaches one.”

    Happened recently in a letter to the editor of our diocesean paper. A letter writer, I’ll assume a fellow Catholic, took to task statements some bishops have made on the subject of “illegal immigrants”. The reasoning was along the lines that the bishops should shut up about the plight of illegals as they were the leaders who allowed the scandal to occur.

    Not sure of the connection between the two subjects and, as is the example JenB cites about Sean Hannity, Chrisitan charity was certainly lacking.

  • Does this mean that if I compare one side to the other on the rumored moto propriao to nazi who don’t care about scandal I loose the debate?

  • What about if a mere comment by a Catholic warrants the Catholic “Goodwin effect”?  I was commenting on a mothers working out of the home issue on a local blog and one nut took the bait on both the Goodwin and the “time better spent” line.

    At least they know I am Catholic.