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Opinion | The slippery slope fallacy


Much of the talk now is about the slippery slope. You know, one thing happens, but that triggers a lot of much worse things. Because gas-guzzling trucks are banned doesn’t mean all gasoline-powered vehicles will be banned, but that’s what the slippery-slopers would argue.

In writing, we call that a fallacy. Just because, say, the U.S. Supreme Court undoes a half-century of privacy rights for women doesn’t mean the beginning of the end for other rights, like interracial and same-sex marriages or the right to smoke weed in Oregon.

Still, who knows? Most of us were pretty certain Roe v Wade wouldn’t be overturned. After all, all of the most recent appointees to the Supreme Court said during their confirmation hearings that Roe was settled law. Yet, that was a lie. At nearly their first opportunity, these “conservatives” undid 50 years of reproductive freedom for women.

There is no telling where this court will stop in their zeal to impose so-called “Christian” ideology on Americans, whether they are conservative Christians, liberal Christians, Jewish, Islamist, atheists, or whatever their belief system may be.

As scary as this blatant attack on women is, trying to force their brand (mostly Catholic) of Christianity upon America is more serious constitutional violation that cannot be allowed to continue.

We are a nation that separates “church and state.” That is one of the main reasons white Europeans settled in America in the first place. They didn’t want to endure the persecution they endured in their home countries surrounding religion (mostly Catholic religion).

They either toed their nation’s religious (mostly Catholic) line, or they didn’t. If they didn’t, they lived precarious lives.

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We’ve come close to full circle. Religion now matters more than personal rights. But only to that certain tribe of Christians. It’s a particularly brutal and, ironically, an unforgiving Christianity, too.

I rejected that tribe long ago. The idea that for me to be good in my faith, I had to look down on somebody else – a woman who needs an abortion, a gay student in one of my classes who is able to safely come out for the first time in his young life, a homeless woman living at night under an interstate overpass because she can’t find a job that will pay her a living wage. These are not the chosen in American society today, according to the “chosen.”

Their tough-love Christianity has just about destroyed all Christianity. Churches are scrambling to draw members because the collection plates are coming up empty.

How I wish that those who oppose a woman’s reproductive rights were as enthusiastic about feeding poor children or ministering to those in our jails and prisons. What changes could be made if they truly spread Christ’s commandment to love your neighbor as yourself and as you love God.

We’re not seeing a lot of love out there. Lots of insensitive boasts from the pro-life folks, yes. Promises from the far right, including a huge chunk of white supremacists, that they’ve only just now begun.

The slippery slope. It’s dangerous thinking, because to those who want to control others, whether it’s who they marry or what they do in their bedrooms or whether they believe in a god or don’t, the aggressive push to impose beliefs through laws and court rulings may be only just beginning.

I’m no fan of the slippery slope argument. It is flawed. But we are a flawed nation, too, flawed people. And the scary ones are waiting to pounce.

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This year’s midterms look awful for progressives and even reasonable conservatives. The radical, far-right, mostly frightened white folks, are definitely encouraged and on the march. They are going to target many more rights we assumed our Constitution covered, but rights that they don’t want us to have.

They won’t be successful. Surely not, right? The slippery slope is a fallacy. It doesn’t happen.

Except. It doesn’t happen until it does, and if it does happen, we allow it.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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