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When Is It Okay for Me to Call You a Nazi?

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If you boss around your man, you're a femi-Nazi, if you're adamant about being a vegan, you're a righteous Nazi vegan. If you're in favor of any law that takes away our right to bear arms, you are definitely some kind of Nazi. In fact, if you are very adamant about nearly anything that I disagree with, you are some kind of Nazi.

There's an old rule they call "Godwin's Law," which judges the amount of time in a rowdy internet conversation before somebody calls somebody else a Nazi.

Some would argue that calling someone a Nazi isn't that different from calling someone a dick, a cocksucker or any other foul name. Hate speech is used frequently by people in stressful situations as a way of venting. But, in fact, calling someone the "N word" or a "fag" is more than just calling them a dick or a douche bag.

Calling someone a douche bag is a fairly generic insult. It's effective for venting while talking to the other drivers as long as your windows are closed and even ranting about your boss when you're safely home and having a beer. Insults are part of human nature, and they allow us to breathe in and breathe out. Usually, we don't mean anything by them. We don't really wish ill, we just are exercising our venting powers.

But when you call someone the "N word" or a "faggot," or the notorious "C word," you are expressing your hatred toward a particular group. We all know someone who will throw around these words and say, "I didn't mean anything by it," but the fact is that language has weight in the world. Language is loaded with thick tangled vines of history, and the history and culture and story. Recently, someone wrote to me and referred to his ex-wife, mother of his daughter as the "C word." My first reaction was, "Wow, you really hate women. I knew you had issues with women, but you really hate us." Oddly, In England, the "C word," is thrown around much more freely by men to their "mates," so the word has lost at least some of the power it has here in America.

But back to Nazis, who in the 20th century, the ultimate monsters of history, killing more than six million Jews, gypsies and homosexuals and their allies. This one group represents the ultimate horror in collective human brutality. To call someone a Nazi is to trivialize the world's worst genocide. It is to trivialize the great global tragedy of the last century. The reason we should not throw around the word, "Nazi," is that unless we can learn from history, we will repeat it. And if we don't pay attention to what we are saying, we may find that the words coming out of our mouths have no meaning at all, that we have become a people who simply talk and talk, our words like air.

"Do you mean that?" I used to say to my kids when they insulted each other. "Do you really mean that?"

Martin Luther King changed the world with his words. Words have power. We should be careful what we say.