by Urizenus Sklar on 26/10/10 at 2:43 am
Godwin muzzled by Godwin’s law! This would never happen to Glenn Beck.
By Urizenus Sklar, from the Hall of Mirrors Desk
Cryptically and on short notice, my old friend Mike Godwin has left his position as General Counsel for Wikipedia. He first notified his staff on Oct. 19 and he was out on Oct 22. Why the quick departure? The letter from the Executive Director of Wikipedia included a FAQ that raises more questions than it answers:
Why is Mike leaving the Wikimedia Foundation?
Mike leaving the Wikimedia Foundation is a confidential personnel issue, and the Wikimedia Foundation doesn’t talk about confidential personnel issues with anyone except the people directly involved. We want to handle this kind of thing with respect for people’s privacy and dignity, and we are hopeful we can do that in this instance. That means, we’re not going to answer this question, and we hope you will understand why.
That isn’t a FAQ, that is a FUQ, as in a frequently unanswered question. And as we know, when people don’t say much they are violating Grice’s Maxim of Quantity, which usually means they can’t say what they really want to say, which is this: Nazis made us do it!
In this case, the speculation in the Hall of Mirrors™ is that Godwin has been pushed out because of his smack talking the FBI over the use of the FBI seal on Wikipedia.
Back in August, the FBI took umbrage at the FBI insignia appearing on the Wikipedia FBI page. FBI General Counsel David Larson cited 18 U.S.C. 701, which states: "Whoever manufactures, sells, or possesses any badge, identification card, or other insignia, of the design prescribed by the head of any department or agency of the United States for use by any officer or employee thereof, or any colorable imitation thereof, or photographs, prints, or in any other manner makes or executes any engraving, photograph, print, or impression in the likeness of any such badge, identification card, or other insignia, or any colorable imitation thereof, except as authorized under regulations made pursuant to law, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both."
Godwin fired back in his usual manner – a manner designed to outflame all opponents in WELL flame wars (back when his pseud was “mnemonic” and his style was all aggression all the time): “while we appreciate your desire to revise the statute to reflect your expansive vision of it, the fact is that we must work with the actual language of the statute, not [the FBI's] aspirational version." Godwin went on to point out, quite correctly, that the law "was intended to protect the public against the use of a recognizable assertion of authority with intent to deceive."
Could this really be why Godwin is out? Stranger things have happened. And…
…in the Hall of Mirrors™, we may never know.