Tom Perkins pulls the Nazi card on anti-tech activists

Justin Bieber may have the attention of the media but just as dumb things are going on in the tech world

Somewhat lost in all of the in-depth media coverage of Justin Beiber's arrest for being an idiot is the recent furore in San Francisco over "techies."

If you haven't been following this story, here's the short version: Some amalgamation of yet more idiots calling themselves "the counterforce" declared:

Our problem is with Google, its pervasive surveillance capabilities utilized by the NSA, the technologies it is developing, and the gentrification its employees are causing in every city they inhabit. But our problem does not stop with Google. All of you other tech companies, all of you other developers and everyone else building the new surveillance state--We're coming for you next. 

A cornerstone of their complaints apparently concerns the scores of Google busses that ferry Google employees to and from work around the Bay area so last Tuesday, to underscore their "mission," these numbnuts blockaded the Berkeley home of Anthony Levandowski, the lead developer at Google X who works on Google's autonomous car project, for 45 minutes and plastered his neighborhood with fliers detailing what Levandowski does

The rabble then repaired to the nearby Ashby BART station in Berkeley and blockaded a Google Bus until the BART police arrived. 

This farcical incident led to much commentary in tech circles and following an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal [paywalled] Tom Perkins,  a founder of storied VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, apparently lost his mind and penned a letter to the editor titled Progressive Kristallnacht Coming? in which he suggested:

Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its "one percent," namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the "rich."

Quite obviously Perkins has never heard of the term "Reductio ad Hitlerum" coined by the conservative philosopher Leo Strauss in 1951. From Wikipedia:

According to Strauss, the Reductio ad Hitlerum is an informal fallacy that consists of trying to refute an opponent's view by comparing it to a view that would be held by Adolf Hitler or the Nazi Party.

And then there's Godwin's Law which pretty much amounts to once you use a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis you've lost the argument or at least the high ground.

While we should have a healthy dose of skepticism and anxiety over the benefits and uses of technology, blockading some random cog in the great Google machine does little to further any kind of meaningful public discussion and for a celebrity in the technology world to come out with such an ill-considered analogy is stunningly naive.

So, let's all take a deep breath, relax, and have an adult discussion about technology, politics, and social responsibility without blockading people and traffic or playing the Nazi card. Do you really all want to look as stupid as Justin Bieber?

Will I hear from Justin Bieber, Counterforce or Mr. Perkins below or at gearhead@gibbs.com? Perhaps they'll follow me on TwitterApp.net, and Facebook.

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