Monday, December 13, 2010

The return of Godwin's Law

First off, if you're not familiar with Godwin's Law then you can read about it at's_law .

So I'm at my normal Toastmasters meeting on Thursday and during our normal business meeting an interesting motion pops up: "Moved that Prince George Toastmasters members are required to wear duly-award Toastmasters nametags at meetings". To make a long story short, the motion ended up passing at the club with one negative vote, myself.

Now I like business meetings and I like parliamentarian procedure. I am probably the only person I know that literally will watch CPAN (Canadian Parliamentary Channel) for hours on end when left to my own devices. I don't know why legality speaks to me but it does. So before I get into any moralistic argument I would note that the discussion motion is effectively a dress code and thus falls under a bylaw change of the organization and thus requires prior notice of motion, quorum at the meeting where it is discussed, and a majority of votes to pass.

Legality aside, I personally disagree with this sort of motion regardless. I think that any time you start forcing people to wear identification badges you run down a slippery slope, whether an Office Space "pieces of flair" or a WWII Star of David. Of course, I made my objection in the meeting and it wasn't until I was ranting about it to my wife later that she correctly pointed out the invocation of Godwin's Law.

So what is a person to do? Legally speaking I don't believe the motion is in order. Personally speaking if the motion was something that was enforced I feel strongly enough about it to find another club to spend my time at. I think where I'm left is to approach the Vice President of Membership and make a formal objection on this level.

I personally suspect that it's a non-issue, other silly motion passed which means nothing to no one, but to me it really bothers me. I can't even articulate why it bothers me so much but it really does. I don't mind name badges in the workplace, I don't mind name badges at a conference/networking session, but somehow in the context of a non-profit club meeting it really bugs me.

I wish I could understand better as it feels to me that Godwin's Law has a corollary:

  • Unless you're talking about racial genocide or similar atrocity, invoking Godwin's Law demonstrates only that the person arguing has no logical basis to stand on.

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