In defense of the slippery slope argument…

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Liberals constantly decry conservatives’ slippery slope arguments against their progressive legislation as simply red herrings. Their refrain is usually “Don’t be absurd, no one’s trying to do _____ (insert the relevant slippery slope argument here).” They suggest that such an argument is mere hyperbole and conservatives are introducing ideas no one wants.

As usual, the liberals are wrong on both scores. History provides a rich trove of liberal camel noses leading to a tents full of camels.

The most famous of course is the income tax. In 1913 when the income tax was established, the top rates began at 1% on income over $20,000 ($450,000 in today’s dollars) and topped out at 6% for income over $500,000 ($11,430,000 today). Today, 100 years later, the income tax applies to virtually everyone earning more than $11,000 per year and tops out at 39.6% for incomes above $400,000. Think about that… the highest rate today applies to an income that would not even have qualified for the lowest tax bracket in 1913. And a tax code that started out four pages long is today four times as long as the Bible!

Then there is Roe v. Wade. In the run up to Roe v. Wade, liberals claimed women simply deserved the right to choose for themselves. How different would the arguments have been in the statehouses and courthouses if opponents could see that in 40 years the government would require abortifacients be available to underage girls without their parents’ consent or that government would be funding hundreds of thousands of abortions a year?

How about the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was intended to prohibit discrimination against the handicapped? What started out seeking sidewalk ramps, wider doors and job security for the handicapped has morphed into the government demanding companies allow alcoholics to drive trucks, forcing cities, towns and businesses to spend thousands of dollars or shut down swimming pools, or requiring companies to offer separate bathroom facilities to those too shy to pee in public bathrooms. Today the Americans with Disabilities Act has become a tort tool for lawyers and leaches to extort millions of dollars out of the pockets of small businesses.

Liberals may not like it, but the slippery slope is indeed a reality. What is outlandish hyperbole today is tomorrow’s reality. That is the fundamental nature of government. History clearly demonstrates the avaricious nature of government and its intent to expand its power in myriad ways once it gets a toehold in virtually any arena.

Unfortunately, the slippery slope is not just a parlor game. It has real consequences in the real world. Today there are two issues where the slippery slope argument is particularly relevant: gay marriage and guns.

Gay marriage: Liberals suggest the issue is simply one of equal rights for gays. All they want is for gay people to be able to marry like anyone else. Not surprisingly, conservatives see it as something quite different, and the slippery slope provides a compelling illustration. Conservatives say that if the definition of marriage is changed from one man to one woman, then on what grounds would the momentum for redefinition stop there, and would chaos not ensue? Two men and one woman? Three woman and four men? A village? A man and his son? (Jeremy Irons makes a valid point in asking why that shouldn’t be allowed as there is no chance of procreation.) And once gay marriage is legal, how long until gays demand to be married in the Catholic church or any other Christian church where the teachings are explicitly against homosexual marriage? (Ask the Boy Scouts about that.) Liberals of course say, that’s just and example of hyperbolic scare mongering or homophobia. Luckily we don’t have wait for history to see the chaos that lies around the corner. A Kansas town passed a resolution that would force churches to rent facilities for gay weddings. (This measure later lost at the ballot box.) A Florida judge has already allowed the listing of three people as parents of a child while a Kansas man is being sued for child support for acting as a sperm donor for a lesbian couple. Then of course there is the federal judge in Utah who is considering reversing the ban on polygamy. Liberals can call this slippery slope argument hollow, but the reality is that history is on the side of just such as slope.

Then there is gun regulation. In the wake of events like Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and Columbine Americans are understandably concerned about gun violence. Unfortunately however the liberal solution is to seek to take the guns away from law abiding citizens, which seems particularly ludicrous as gun violence in the US has been declining dramatically for 20 years. While many Democrats are talking about “enhanced” background checks and bans on “assault style” rifles, make no mistake their goals are far more sinister and go much deeper.

Despite the 2nd Amendment’s explicit protection of the right to bear arms, liberals seek to ignore that right. Not sure? This too we don’t have to wait for history to demonstrate. The proof is already here. A Democratic proposal in Washington State would allow sheriffs the right to enter and inspect the homes of semi-automatic firearms owners annually. A new New York law allows police to track ammunition purchases and the state is already confiscating guns from people who were once on anti-anxiety medicine. Under a new Maryland law, gun buyers will have to be fingerprinted and licensed. The new Connecticut law now bans magazines over 10 rounds and outlaws the ownership of a variety of semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15. The argument is that government simply wants to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Of course that all hinges on who gets to decide who is “dangerous”… Remember, it wasn’t very long ago when Homeland Security suggested that “disgruntled war veterans” or “those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority” might be terrorist threats. No doubt 2nd Amendment advocates and small government Tea Party types are not far behind in being added to that list…

Of course this slippery slope history is exactly why conservatives advocate small, limited government. Government power is rapacious, arbitrary and virtually unstoppable once it gets started. Both conservatives and liberals recognize this. The difference is conservatives fear it while liberals count on it. Think about that the next time a liberal seeks brush aside your concerns by claiming “Your slippery slope argument is fallacious”.

The product of a military family, growing up in Naples, Italy and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and being stationed in Germany for two years while in the Army, Vince spent half of his first quarter century seeing the US from outside of its own borders. That perspective, along with a French wife and two decades as a struggling entrepreneur have only fueled an appreciation for freedom and the fundamental greatness of the gifts our forefathers left us.

58 Responses to “In defense of the slippery slope argument…”

  1. 51


    @George Wells:

    Since you claim to agree with the Lawrence decision, I’m not sure what is buggering you about “sodomy.”

    You seem to misunderstand the reasoning behind the Lawrence decision. It had nothing to do with your right to be a pervert, it had everything to do with your right to be a pervert in private.

  2. 52

    George Wells

    @Smorgasbord #50:

    No, I’m not trying to eliminate taxes. My argument is just the opposite. Taxes are how we HAVE to pay for our defense as well as the other things we cannot afford by ourselves. I was making examples of how “taxation” is both a necessary evil AND a “slippery slope,” the latter for reasons that include the ones you describe in #50. Whether the taxation is an “income” tax or a “sales” tax or a 100% “death” tax isn’t germaine to my point that taxation – slippery slope or not – cannot be avoided. Money = power = corruption = money is a continuous loop that bleeds hard working stiffs dry. I’m not sure that we will ever break that cycle as long as human nature is a factor. Just can’t think of how to change human nature.

  3. 53

    George Wells

    @retire05 re: #51:

    Check your Venn Diagram: “Having the right to be a pervert in private” is a “subset” of “having the right to be a pervert.” You should spend more time on improving your logic and less time on diversifying your repertoire of insulting terms.

  4. 54


    @George Wells:

    You should spend more time on improving your logic and less time on diversifying your repertoire of insulting terms.

    So I guess insinuating that I am illogical is not insulting? Physician, heal thyself. Or go away. Matters not to me.

  5. 55


    @George Wells:
    George, not to be argumentative, but are you sure it’s not the other way around:

    “Having the right to be a pervert in private” is a “subset” of “having the right to be a pervert.”

    having the right to be a pervert is the subset, isn’t it?

  6. 56

    George Wells


    First, just to set the limits of what we are talking about, let’s agree that we are talking about “being a pervert” (since that was the phrase retire05 used) as an ambient condition. If we were to include in the term “being a pervert” the performance of various sexual acts, then the discussion would become distracted by the varying degrees of revulsion, as well as the illegality associated with, let’s for once be discrete and call it “the expression of affection for another,” whether in public OR private.

    OK then, “Having the right to be a pervert” includes having the right to be a pervert in all instances. It would include being a pervert in private (one subset) and it would also include being a pervert in public (another subset). There would additional subsets of “being a pervert” which did not address the public/private issue. For example, “being a pervert since the age of fourteen” or “being a very old pervert” would be a subsets of “being a pervert.”

    Subsets of the “private pervert” might include “in your home,” “in your head,” “in a hotel room behind locked doors,” etc. Subsets of the “public pervert” might include “self-declaration at a gay rights rally,” or simply walking down a street. Again, in this context no perverted sexual actions are required to qualify “being a pervert.”

    To retire05’s “So I guess insinuating that I am illogical is not insulting?” The Venn diagram does not “insinuate” he is illogical, it proves it. It shows that one (being a pervert in private) is a subset of the other (being a pervert). The Venn diagram establishes the fundamental relationship between the two. You can’t make “being a pervert” illegal while making “being a pervert in private” legal because a it is logically impossible to be a “pervert in private” without already being “a pervert”. I can give you the “if “A” then “B”” equations for this if you want- that’s how the argument is proved in Phylosophical Logic 201 – but I think you get the point. If retire05 is insulted when he is proved wrong, again, he should concentrate on perfecting his logic, as his use of insulting terms proves much about him and nothing about his argument.

    And no, YOU aren’t being argumentative. Your question is legitimate. Logical proofs are effective when time is available to develop them, which is not always the case in shouting matches. If you read the full text of SCOTUS majority and dissenting opinions, you find a dazzling display of intellect (on both sides) and also you get an appreciation for the complexity of the competing legal perspectives that inform each case. No easy proofs there!

  7. 58

    George Wells


    It’s an old thread, and Retire05 might be dead.
    They all seem to think that “Being” homosexual is OK so long as you keep it a secret, somewhat akin to the question of whether or not a tree actually falls in a forest where no one can hear or see it go down. Odd logic, but just look at Redteam’s follow-up question in his #55:
    “having the right to be a pervert is the subset, isn’t it?”
    Set theory is pretty elementary, but he clearly doesn’t understand it.
    And the two of them have obsessed over how anyone can “tell” if someone is gay, as if that issue had any bearing at all on the civil rights of gays.
    Looking forward to their fresh round of whining when the SCOTUS decision comes out in June.

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