Next to Godwin's Law, the rule that every internet discussion must eventually bring up Adolf Hitler or the nazis, there is one other subject that will almost always be brought up (as the discussion becomes more heated), and has a similar ending of discourse: the mention of George Orwell or 1984. This is not confined to the internet: passing mention of various topics and phrases from Orwell's works are common enough in print media, and have been for quite a while. Probably many of the people who use these terms, especially ones such as doublespeak, are only partially aware of their origin.

The problem with this is that many of the institutions or practices criticized as Orwellian fall far short of the dystopia that George Orwell portrayed. Which shouldn't be surprising, since even the harshest Stalinist dictatorships fell short of Orwell's dystopia. Of course, some parts of Orwellian thought, such as his comments on language in "Politics and the English Language", were meant to apply to all political systems, and were not strictly confined to the totalitarian society of 1984. However, on the whole, "Orwellian" connotes totalitarian dystopia, and thus its application to anything that is simply stupid, intrusive, devious or the like is overblown, and also dangerous because it makes people less aware of trends that actually could lead to totalitarianism.

For example, I found this as one of the first results from a google news search of "Orwellian" (and there were many, many results): http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/archives/2009/09/times_square_ad.php . In 1984, we are presented with a world in which people are constantly monitored and brainwashed, and kidnapped and tortured into compliance. That is what Orwellian means. The author of this Village Voice piece calls the fact that a limited amount of companies control advertising space around Times Square to be "Orwellian". I consider these two things to be absurdly different.

So, just as when an internet discussions violate Godwin's Law, it can safely be considered to be non-productive and ignorable, any time an internet discussion or news story brings up Orwell or 1984 because someone got kicked out of their college class for wearing an obscene t-shirt, we can likewise safely ignore it, because it has violated the rule known as doubleplusGodwin'sLaw.

http://www.somethingawful.com/d/most-awful/most-awful-scifi.php?page=8. This provided my original inspiration for the concept.

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