The Slippery Slope of Slippery Slopes

As I walked out to the mailbox on this wintry day I fell 33 times on the ice. Very slippery. A veritable slippery slope of slippery slopes. Which got me to thinking.

Many arguments about “rights” from my conservative compadres these days seem to hinge on the slippery slope idea. The argument is that if you allow the government to do “A”, then the government will do “B”. then the government will do “C”…all the way to “XYZ”. And that, my friends , is the end of civilization as we know it. Doom awaits us.

Take gay marriage as an example. Those who want to ban gay marriage (now declared legal and constitutional in 35 states) have a state’s rights argument. The philosophy behind the argument for not allowing gay adults to marry goes something like this. (Hang on to your hat, it is gonna get slippery)

If you allow gays to marry, then what next ? The government will allow polygamous marriages. Then it will allow animals to marry people. The slope is fast and very slick. Gay marriage leads to human-animal nuptials. Want to be the flower girl at the wedding of Uncle Jed to Barb the Burro ? I thought not.

Another controversy rife with slippery slope reasoning (?) is gun control. If the government can regulate my use of a gun, what next? The government will ban all guns. To everyone. For all times. Then the jackbooted thugs will take over my house. (Usually Obama’s jackbooted thugs, but not always).The end of civilization as we know it. After all, what is more civilized than an AK-47?

It is hard to argue with such unreasonable reasoning. If “A” occurs…then “XYZ”. So, instead, let’s play the game of slippery slopes. In reverse.
Gay marriage. If the state government can prevent two adult citizens from getting married, what next ? Can the government prevent blacks from marrying whites ? Swedish-Americans from marrying Chinese-Americans? Eventually the states will prevent heterosexuals from marrying each other. No one can get married. Or worse, the state (I’m thinking Alabama here) will make it mandatory for cousins to marry. Or for brothers to marry sisters. Or for humans to marry animals ! Slippery slope.

On gun control. If the state cannot regulate guns, what next. People will be able to carry guns anywhere. Into the mall. Into church. Onto airplanes. Into Congress. And people will be able to carry any kind of weapon. AK-47’s in the front row at Xmas Midnight Mass. The wealthy can afford their own nukes. And children can have guns as well. Playgrounds will become realistic battlegrounds with real bullets instead of pretend ones. And animals ! Do you really want to be confronted by a hungry, armed squirrel. They go nuts. A slippery slope from not allowing reasonable gun control to every felon, child, airline stewardess and nun being armed , locked and loaded. The slippery slope.

Law “A” leads to…well…Law “A”. Nothing more. So, beware of slippery slopes. Throw down some salt on the ice. Tread carefully. In the end, all slippery slope arguments end up leading to a fall. Wear extra padding on your butt and use your common sense.

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14 Comments

Filed under Conservatives, gay rights, gun control, homosexual, logic, slippery slope, Society

14 responses to “The Slippery Slope of Slippery Slopes

  1. Joseph,

    Do you want kids or felons to be able to make anonymous purchases?

    See this is where we differ greatly. It seems you assume if we outlaw something then it won’t happen. Thus ‘universal background checks’ will stop anonymous purchases, right?

    Except the real world doesn’t work that way. We have to show identification to purchase cold medicines, allergy medicines, etc — so has that stopped the manufacture of meth? — even just the manufacture of meth using over the counter medicines as the base. No. It hasn’t.

    The fact that you cannot buy a stock AR-15 does not mean you cannot buy any gun.

    Again, I’m going to play word substitution and see if you still agree with the idea behind the principle.

    The fact that you cannot buy a Bible /Koran does not mean you cannot buy any religious text.
    The fact that you cannot marry a person of different color (same sex) does not mean you cannot marry anyone.

    Would you accept those restrictions on your rights?
    Now consider how seldom ‘AR-15s are used in crimes — The FBI reports less than 500 ‘long guns’ used in the last year in crime. That is all rifles, all shotguns not just “AR-15s.

    Your rights and mine are always restricted.

    True and the courts have consistently ruled that any restrictions on our fundamental rights must be narrowly tailored and meet an overwhelming need.

    An Updated Assessment of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Impacts on Gun Markets and Gun Violence, 1994-2003
    Report to the National Institute of Justice, United States Department of Justice

    • Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement. AWs were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban. LCMs are involved in a more substantial share of gun crimes, but it is not clear how often the outcomes of gun attacks depend on the ability of offenders to fire more than ten shots (the current magazine capacity limit) without reloading.

    and the mass murders continue despite many of them using nothing but 10 round magazines (UCsB, Virginia Tech, for example) — where the people can’t shoot back, it doesn’t make much difference if there are 15 or 10 rounds in the magazine.

    These restrictions do not stop folks from hunting. Or target shooting.

    And now we come to the crux of a very important point — the 2nd Amendment isn’t about hunting or target shooting. It is there, as our founding fathers who had just done — to enable the people to over throw a tyrannical government should that ever happen again. (and it would be hard to argue we aren’t on that path).

    Are hunting and target shooting protected by the 2nd Amendment – yes. but the ultimate purpose is to fight in defense of liberty.

    But it is also clear that the public has a responsibility to try to keep the deadliest weapons out of the hands of irresponsible people.

    Sure, I agree. What we differ on is how to do that. You want to ban/greatly restrict anything that can be used by the people — of course that is impossible to do but you keep trying.

    I have a simpler idea — those who have proven themselves to be so irresponsible they can’t have the freedom to exercise their rights should be locked up. That is the foundation of our legal system.
    Hey, you are a male — you might rape someone, molest a child, oppress a minority — you need to be prevented from doing that, right?

    Or wouldnt you rather wait until you’ve done one of those things, been tried in a court and found guilty ?

    Instead of focusing on your supposedly ‘deadliest weapons’ — let’s focus on the irresponsible people and get them out of society.

    By the way, consider this

    Alfred P. Murrah Building — 168 people killed including 19 children — fertilizer and diesel fuel.

    Bath Township Michigan — 30 children and 6 adults killed in the school there — dynamite.

    World Trader Center — box cutters.

    Bob S.

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    • Bob. I will try to take your points .
      You wrote:”See this is where we differ greatly. It seems you assume if we outlaw something then it won’t happen. Thus ‘universal background checks’ will stop anonymous purchases, right?”
      Yet I never said or implied anything of the sort. don’t use straw man arguments. Some people will evade the law. But that is hardly a reason for having no laws (Slippery Slope).
      2. Regarding your right to read religious texts. That is already protected by the first amendment. And there is a difference between reasonable restrictions and unreasonable ones.Your point seems to be that restricting any gun from being purchased is an unreasonable restriction . On that we simply disagree. I do not think it is in the best interest of society for anyone to be able to purchase WMDs. We simply disagree. I think we need to balance rights. Like the right of people to be safe from others who may use WMDs against them.
      3. What was the purpose of the 2nd Amendment? You suggest the following:
      “And now we come to the crux of a very important point — the 2nd Amendment isn’t about hunting or target shooting. It is there, as our founding fathers who had just done — to enable the people to over throw a tyrannical government should that ever happen again. (and it would be hard to argue we aren’t on that path).”
      I disagree. The 2nd Amendment was established in order to be able to call together a “militia”. In other words, the purpose was to have a military force, UNDER GOVERNMENT CONTROL, if necessary. That is what a “militia” is. In fact, Article 1 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to call forth the “militia” to suppress REBELLIONS.
      There is no individual right to won a gun , at least no according to the Founding Fathers.
      4. I do tend to agree with you on one point. You state:
      “Or wouldnt you rather wait until you’ve done one of those things, been tried in a court and found guilty ?

      Instead of focusing on your supposedly ‘deadliest weapons’ — let’s focus on the irresponsible people and get them out of society.”
      We need to empty our private prisons and state run institutions of non-violent types and give longer or permanent sentences to violent ones. No doubt.
      However, one way to reduce violent crime is to limit access (through background checks) of weapons to people who should not have them. I agree that the person is the primary problem, so let’s weed them out BEFORE they kill someone. Let’s limit their access to WMDs. Background checks, waiting periods, no anonymous buys, gun registration. A non-criminal has no reason to oppose any of those restrictions.

      I could cite many examples (you cited 3) of Americans being killed by guns,,,in fact over 400,000 Americans have been killed or committed suicide using guns SINCE 9/11. That does not mean guns should be outlawed. But it does show we have a major problem in this country. Americans with guns have killed 100 times more Americans than were killed by terror attacks in 9/11.

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  2. Josephurban,

    Do you want kids or felons to be able to make anonymous purchases?/

    You mean kids like the 26 year olds that are still eligible to be on their parents insurance?

    Your argument was the ‘slippery slope’ was a fallacy. I believe I’ve conclusively shown that our rights have fallen down that non-existent slope. Whether or not they are ‘good restrictions’ or bad, that is debatable. What isn’t debatable is the tendency of a.) governments to enact ever restrictive laws and b.) gun control advocates to call for ever restrictive laws.

    Those two tendencies have to be fought carefully and often.

    All rights take into account the rights of other and the necessity to have a stable, safe society. The fact that you cannot buy a stock AR-15 does not mean you cannot buy any gun. Your rights and mine are always restricted

    What is different is few of our rights are restrict PRIOR to their misuse. Free speech; go say what you want, and face the consequences, right?
    Not so with the 2nd Amendment. Oh, No….someone used a select fire rifle and now we can’t buy one manufactured after 1986, have to submit finger prints, local LEO approval, etc.

    Would you put up with that requirement to blog? To have a conversation in your own home or on your own property?
    But gun owners are supposed to put up with it, eh.

    The slippery slope exists, has been used against gun owners for a very long time.

    No one in politics has been pushing to ban all guns.

    No one is currently but there are still calls all the time for just that action. Most politicians are cagey enough not to mention it but they still push restrictions all the time. A nibble here and a nibble there and soon we have a defacto ban. Look at Washington D.C. pre-Heller decision for example. Chicago Illinois pre-McDonald decision. Never mind the fact that the laws being pushed absolutely don’t work — If they did Gun Control Paradise of Chicago wouldn’t have a higher homicide rate than gun friendly Fort Worth Texas, right?

    But it is also clear that the public has a responsibility to try to keep the deadliest weapons out of the hands of irresponsible people.

    Let’s try this in a couple of different flavors and see if you still agree.

    But it is also clear that the public has a responsibility to try to keep the free speech out of the mouths and handsof irresponsible people.

    But it is also clear that the public has a responsibility to try to keep the children out of the hands of irresponsible parents.

    But it is also clear that the public has a responsibility to try to keep the alcohol out of the hands of irresponsible people.

    Now apply the same laws used in New York State or California to each of those situations and see if you would still support them.

    Want to see people applying for ‘free speech permits”, “child bearing permits”?

    Especially since those same laws aren’t working to stop criminals !

    Bob S.

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    • Bob. As usual you raise some interesting issues. Regarding the murder rates in cities that have gun control my response is simple. Those guns are being imported from areas with lax gun control. Hence the need for a sane, national policy.
      Regarding your examples of extending the idea that society has an interest in many areas of life.

      The public has a responsibility to keep “free speech” out of the mouths of irresponsible people. Yes. We have laws against making terrorist-like statements on airplanes. Your “free speech” ends when it becomes a real, tangible dangerous situation. That does not mean we keep ALL speech out of the mouths of irresponsible people. There are levels based on common sense and the current situation (like wartime speech). And we do have “free speech” permits whenever a group wants to demonstrate.

      The public does have a responsibility to keep children out of the hands of irresponsible parents. That is why we have Child Protective Services. If a parent is suspected, with reasonable evidence, of harming their child that child will be protected. That, again, is just reasonable. I don’t think (I hope) you would not take the position that if we know or strongly suspect a parent is abusive we wait until that abuse is deadly or permanently damaging to the child.

      Regarding alcohol. Yes. We have laws keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors. And laws that seek to prevent alcohol abusers from driving on our streets. In fact, many people lose the privilege of driving due to alcohol abuse. Is it smarter to wait until a drunk driver kills your teenage daughter or to preemptively take away that potentially deadly weapon from him before he does that permanent damage?

      There are some “crimes” that are more serious than others. For example. If I were to slander you or libel you, you are still alive. And can respond. But if I use a gun to kill you , then you really have no recourse. That is why I think we need to be more careful in controlling guns than in controlling speech. Because of the immediate consequences.

      Regarding the use of Chicago vs. Fort Worth stats. It is pretty easy to pick and choose data, but that tells us nothing about the underlying causes. For example, according to the national FBI statistics for 2012 listing the 25 most violent cities. Based on all violent crimes. 3 Texas cities (San Antonio, Houston and Austin, ranked 3,6 and 9) are more violent than Chicago (ranked 12)and much more violent than NYC at 25 (which has gun control in place). Dallas ranks just one notch below Chicago and Fort Worth ranks 2 notches below Dallas.Of the 15 MOST VIOLENT cities, 5 are in Texas ! How do we interpret those stats? Are Texans generally more violent? Is it the easy access to guns? Is it related to poverty or ethnicity? Do Texans do a better job of reporting violent crimes than people in other states? Do authorities in other cities hide their stats from the FBI ? Who knows?
      My point being that we need to be careful that we do not over interpret statistics.

      Finally, regarding your fear that the government will “nibble away” the right to own a firearm until that right no longer exists. There is no evidence of that. In fact, Mr Obama EXTENDED the right to carry firearms into national parks. Don’t you think that some restrictions on gun ownership and use is just reasonable?
      Once again, thanks for your thoughtful comments.

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      • Joseph,

        egarding the murder rates in cities that have gun control my response is simple. Those guns are being imported from areas with lax gun control. Hence the need for a sane, national policy.

        Could you explain why the cities with ‘lax gun control’ (like Fort Worth) don’t have higher homicide or crime rates than cities with restrictive gun control (like Chicago)?

        I’ll come back and address the rest of your points later. I really want to concentrate on this point for the moment.

        Bob S.

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      • First of all, Fort Worth DOES have a higher violent crime rate, not sure about the actual murder rate.
        But, to your point. Since guns flow across state and city borders (especially from the less restrictive south to some of the more restrictive northern cities) we cannot make a direct co-relation between gun control and violence. As long as guns are easy to obtain anywhere in the US they will filter to areas where they are not as easy to access. No state or city is isolated. We are one country. For example, when you drive into Chicago there are no checkpoints to see if you have a weapon. You can drive into the city with a truckload of weapons bought elsewhere.
        For this very reason we need a national policy that helps keep the more dangerous weapons out of circulation. Of course, any law will be evaded by some. But by making it more difficult to obtain the more dangerous weapons easily we can reduce the access to them by all.

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    • Interesting article. I think it is a good idea to inform anyone who is on the “no gun” list so they have the right to challenge that in court. Like the no-fly list. People should know when they are on these lists so they can take actions and demonstrate they do not belong on it.

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  3. Your examples prove the point about the ‘slippery slope’ — the government has in the past prevented inter-racial marriages.
    Heck the very idea that we have to apply to the government for a ‘marriage license’ should be a warning to people.

    If the state cannot regulate guns, what next. People will be able to carry guns anywhere. Into the mall. Into church. Onto airplanes. Into Congress.

    And in the absence of physical security measures; the people are able to do exactly that. Of course in many states it is legal to carry guns into the mall and into church. Ask me how I know.

    Can the slippery slope argument get over done? Absolutely. Does history show that it is a problem; yeah, it does.

    The government will ban all guns. To everyone. For all times. Then the jackbooted thugs will take over my house.

    Look around at the countries that have banned firearms and see what happened to the people in those countries. For the most part it hasn’t worked out well. Do I think a complete ban will work in America? NO.
    I do think an attempt could lead to another shooting war though.

    We don’t have to look to other countries either for examples. New York State and California are two classic examples of gun control advocates continuing to push ever restrictive laws onto the citizens. Sorry but the slippery slope argument exists for a reason.

    Bob S.

    P.S. — my personal belief regarding marriage is the state should get out of ‘licensing’ completely. Re-write the tax codes to recognize committed relationships; civil covenant, church marriage or legal contracts would all be acceptable proof. That way if a religion wanted to recognize ‘gay’ or any other type of marriage they could without requiring my faith to recognize it.

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    • Bob, Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Regarding gun control consider the following. The following countries (among others) ban assault weapons: Germany, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Costa Rica…and their homicide rates are very low compared to the USA. These people are not repressed. They have freedom. Democracies all. I live in NY and own a gun. I don’t see how NY gun laws prevent law-abiding citizens to\\from owning guns. Not felons or the mentally impaired, of course. So what is the slippery slope that has occurred in NY ? What adult citizens can’t buy guns?

      Regarding marriage I understand your point but respectfully submit this. Marriage is a legal term with legal and economic benefits. Without a state sanction inheritance laws, the rights of spouses to death benefits, to make end of life decisions, to tax breaks, etc. would not secured. Since it has legal ramifications the state does need to sanction the relationship in some way. I am in favor of calling it whatever they want…civil unions, marriage…as long as the rights of souses and offspring are legally protected.

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      • The following countries (among others) ban assault weapons: Germany, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Costa Rica…and their homicide rates are very low compared to the USA.

        And consider Honduras, Brazil and Mexico; they also ban assault weapons and many other firearms. Honduras has a firearm related homicide rate of 64 per 100K. Mexico with a single legal gun store for civilians has a firearm homicide rate of 10 per 100K — 3 times ours.

        I don’t see how NY gun laws prevent law-abiding citizens to\\from owning guns.

        Can you buy a stock AR-15? Can you buy a firearm with a standard magazine that normally comes with a firearm — say like my Sig Sauer SP2022 that holds 15 rounds?

        NO. You can’t. So you have ‘some freedom’ but your rights are restricted.

        So what is the slippery slope that has occurred in NY ?

        Look at the history of gun control laws in New York and the country in general.
        At one time people could order firearms by mail; send in your money and have the post office deliver a gun from any where in the country.
        At one time people could buy select fire weapons without governmental approval, fingerprints, etc.
        At one point people didn’t need a permit to own a firearm — care to try that in New York City today?
        At one people people could buy and sell firearms from any state in the union.
        At one point people could buy magazines with more than 15 rounds, then more then 10 rounds now they are limited (in New York ) to 7 rounds.

        Tell me again where you don’t see a decline in freedom over the years?

        Meanwhile thousands of people every year (estimates are as high as 2.5 MILLION) use firearms to stop or prevent crimes. Why make it harder for them to do so.

        Meanwhile millions of people hunt each year; donating thousands of pounds of game meats to homeless shelters.

        Millions of people shoot for recreation, safely and legally why make it harder for them?

        Criminals aren’t going to abide by background checks — hey here is a great idea; let’s try background checks for illegal drugs? That should shut down that problem right away, eh.

        Bob S.

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      • Bob. You are correct that people cannot buy guns by mail.Don’t you think that is a sensible idea? Do you want kids or felons to be able to make anonymous purchases?
        And I agree that there are restrictions on owning weapons. Every right has restrictions. Free speech. Freedom of religion. All rights take into account the rights of other and the necessity to have a stable, safe society. The fact that you cannot buy a stock AR-15 does not mean you cannot buy any gun. Your rights and mine are always restricted. That is the nature of living in a democracy.
        These restrictions do not stop folks from hunting. Or target shooting. Citizens can still purchase legal weapons.
        We can agree to disagree. What you see as a very serious restriction on individual freedom I see as a reasonable restriction based on public safety and health issues. No one in politics has been pushing to ban all guns. The 2nd Amendment is clear. But it is also clear that the public has a responsibility to try to keep the deadliest weapons out of the hands of irresponsible people. That balance, between my rights and your rights, is always an issue that creates tension.
        (You are correct that murder rates are high in some countries that ban some guns. Colombia is even worse than the ones you mention, probalby due to drug wars. But each country is a distinct case,)

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  4. solodm

    Most slippery slope arguments are insulting to the normal intellect. Wait, did I say normal? I mean to say to those whose minds don’t go to extremes when talking about anything they don’t like, or fear.
    The one slippery slope argument I will employ, is that of the icy path the US has put itself on, by allowing a majority of Republican/Conservative/Tea Party animals to take over Congress – Whee here we go! You’re so right, pad all necessary body parts..

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