Something’s been bothering me about recent attempted coup at the US capital (beyond all the normal anxiety a violent coup causes) and I’ve finally figured out the problem. Many of the arguments being used against the insurrectionists parallel the arguments the right has repeated used against the minority communities to which I belong. Specifically, I’m referring to the “slippery slope” argument.
In case you didn’t know what the slippery slope argument was (or didn’t click the hyperlink above) the basic idea is that negative event A will naturally cause negative event B to occur. B is a slightly worse event than A and will lead to the even worse event C. And this continues on until everything is all bad all the time. Typically, you see this in the form of a ‘moral decay’ argument when wielded against the various underrepresented communities. “If gays get married, what’s to stop someone from marrying a child, or a dog?” Or if you were subjected to the D.A.R.E. programs of the 80’s and 90’s, “Pot and alcohol are gateway drugs that will eventually lead to crack, meth, and other hard drugs.” Both of these ideas have proven themselves false (or more accurately, there’s been no data to show that these ideas are true). But now I see a lot of rhetoric from the left that amounts to, “this is what happens when people aren’t held accountable for their actions.” It is fundamentally the same argument as the “moral decay” argument used against my communities for decades. If you let someone profit off of hate speech, you get racists. If you give racists police protection when they protest, you get riots. If you brush off the racists rioting as ‘freedom of speech,’ you get violent attempted political coups. It’s the same basic argument from both sides.
Except they’re not. Despite the similarities in the arguments and the fact they both use the idea of a “slippery slope” there’s a huge different between the left’s accusations of the right and the right’s accusations of the left. Namely: proof. It’s been years since marijuana has been legalized in various states, and even longer since the legalization of gay marriage. There’s been no data showing an increase in the usage of hard drugs in the states that legalized marijuana (though there has been an increase in snack food sales). Similarly there’s been no increase in the amount of pedophilia or zoophilia found in the LGBTQ+ community or the United States in general (though there has been evidence of a large pedophilia and human trafficking ring run by the very people funding those we are against gay marriage because they think it would lead to pedophilia).
Meanwhile, we’ve seen for ourselves in the past four years what happens when hateful, racist speech is not just protected, but profited off of. It eventually leads to violent insurrections. And this isn’t the first time this type of behavior has happened. We have, on record, an incident where an individual was allowed to profit off of and incite intolerance and bigotry in a general populace. It lead to a world war. Effectively, one side has seen a slope, decided the slope looks too slippery for them and now refused to let anyone else attempt the slope for fear that they may one day have to brave the slope themselves. The other side has watched people repeated slip down a slope into a ravine full of jagged rocks and decided, hey, that slope is really freaking slippery, and there’s sharp rocks at the bottom; we probably shouldn’t let anyone else slide down this slope.
So the slippery slope fallacy can be turned into a proper argument. But it requires proper proof, real world evidence of similar situations, not hyperbolic, hypothetical fear-mongering. So to my fellow liberal friends: Accuse away at this affront to our nation. Enjoy finally being validated and getting to say, “I told you so.” We have documented history on our side and they’re still waiting for the giant ‘what if’ to happen and prove them right.