Monday, July 14, 2014

Slippery Dope Arguments

Inevitably, in discussions about "culture war" issues, right wingers will raise the specter of a "slippery slope". In the case of same-sex marriage, for instance, Rick Santorum insisted that it would lead to polygamy, even though polygamous relationships almost invariably involve coercion- as an aside, Conservatives Cannot Comprehend Consent, so they naturally see that same-sex marriage proponents would be cool with polygamy. In the case of the regulation of firearms, pro-gun commentors always bring up the topic of gun confiscation, a subject which the Kenyan Usurper has never even broached.

When you point out to them that their slippery-slope arguments are bullshit: "Point out feminist leaders who are advocating for the legalization of infanticide" or "Name five prominent liberals who want to ban all firearms", these commentors never stick to the topic. They shift goalposts, they ask off-topic questions, and they trot out enough strawmen to keep the entire crow population of North America at bay. In their efforts to avoid being pinned down on a topic, they go through contortions worthy of a hagfish. It's impossible to have a good faith argument with these people because of their refusal to engage on a factual level. They manage to be polytropos, but without the sagacity of an Odysseus. This combination of twisting-and-turning and stupidity leads me to describe their "debating" style as "slippery dope" arguments.

8 comments:

mikey said...

You have arrived at the heart of the matter. Vague claims and magic asterisks must be challenged. As soon as the media is willing to demand examples, this whole imaginary narrative dies hard and shrivels up.

Of course, the other side of that coin is that without demands for real world examples this kind of argument without example is allowed to stand alongside the most carefully thought out arguments against.

I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine why this might be so...

Anonymous said...

Whoa. Whoever said that polygamy always involves coercion?? May I direct your attention to the world of polyamory, where having a relationship with multiple people at once is consensual and acceptable.

http://www.salon.com/2013/08/05/my_two_husbands/

http://www.amazon.com/Ethical-Slut-Dossie-Easton-ebook/dp/B004JHYRAE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405401555&sr=8-1&keywords=dottie+easton

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

You have arrived at the heart of the matter. Vague claims and magic asterisks must be challenged. As soon as the media is willing to demand examples, this whole imaginary narrative dies hard and shrivels up.

The media does a really horrible job at parsing between bullshit and fact-based reasoning.

Whoa. Whoever said that polygamy always involves coercion??

Not I! Re-read what I wrote. I shan't edit it, I don't edit stuff without noting the changes. Sure, there are wonderful, egalitarian polyamorous relationships out there, but they pale in number to the polygamous relationships pushed by fundamentalist Islamic and LDS societies, which certainly involve coercion.

Emma said...

Dude: Those hagfish are kind of gross.

My personal theory re:polygamy is that — in the hypothetical at least — polygamy looks as though it might be sort of fun. You know, sexually. And there is nothing the deeply religious and morally upright hate more than the thought that other people might be having sex for fun.

It is certainly accounted for in their Scriptures, I don’t know what other objection they could possibly have to it. I mean, they do seem to be fond of coercing unwilling participants into following whatever tradition-frosted rules they’ve just made up, so it can’t be that.

And, you know, if they didn’t make specious, ad hominem arguments, they wouldn’t have any arguments at all etc. They’re defending policy positions like "starve the poor," "poison all the waters of the earth," and "turn the US into a theocracy," so they’ve got have something legitimate-looking at which they can tilt in public. It’s why Catholicism has all those Saints.

Sirius Lunacy said...

You want a REAL slippery slope? Start calling corporations "people"!!!

Jim H. said...

To say that all slippery-slope arguments lead to bullshit is a slippery-slope argument. Oh, wait, look over there... a shiny object!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

HAGFISH ARE PEOPLE TOO!!!
~

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

My personal theory re:polygamy is that — in the hypothetical at least — polygamy looks as though it might be sort of fun. You know, sexually. And there is nothing the deeply religious and morally upright hate more than the thought that other people might be having sex for fun.

I think the main issue is having to deal with issues of jealousy- it's important to make sure that everyone is on the same page at all times to avoid "drama".

You want a REAL slippery slope? Start calling corporations "people"!!!

Oh, yeah, especially when those "people" can act on their religious prejudice.

To say that all slippery-slope arguments lead to bullshit is a slippery-slope argument. Oh, wait, look over there... a shiny object!

Slopes upon slopes... slopes upon slopes.

HAGFISH ARE PEOPLE TOO!!!

Slimy bottom feeders... HAGFISH ARE CONGRESSMEN!!!!