InterstateQ blogger Matt has a post advertising the Can you be gay and Christian forum hosted by Michael Brown and the Coalition of Conscience. I’m looking forward to reading Matt’s thoughts on the forum, as he went to it. In the meantime, I’d like to draw attention to the conversation between Dr. Brown and myself in the comments regarding slippery slope arguments. I’d also like to expand on my thoughts further.
I have a big issue with the use of slippery slope arguments to justify discrimination of any sort. (Actually, I have a big issue with the use of slippery slope arguments to justify just about anything.) As I mentioned in the comments, I find myself wondering how one ultimately draws the line in determining whether a slippery slope is legitimate in a particular situation. Again, can my own argument about the correlation between a belief in absolute truth and a tendency to persecute those who don’t subscribe to that truth be used to outlaw the belief in absolute truth? After all, by closing the door to a belief in absolute truth, we keep the door to persecution based on that belief closed as well. Similarly, can we shut the door to all automobile future crashes by outlawing the use of automobiles? After all, if one supports Dr. Brown’s slippery slope argument, what unique argument can they provide against supporting either of my slippery slope argument? Indeed, the fact that the slippery slope argument can be used against itself is possibly one of the best reasons to discount it.
But let me suggest a hypothesis here. The fact that someone would even bring up a slippery slope argument may well suggest that the reason to argue against something is poor indeed. After all, a slippery slope argument relies on what might happen (often suggesting it’s too inevitable to chance) rather than considering the original proposition on its own faults and merits. It’s a red flag that tells those listening, “We can’t come up with a better reason why we oppose this, so we’re going to rely on everyone’s fear of something else that may come up as a result to make our case.” And one must wonder, if no case against the original proposition can be made on said propositions own faults, should any case be made at all?
And does reacting to something based solely — or even primarily — on a fear of what may be make any sense? To put an even finer point, is such a rationale appropriate for adherents of a religion that has a rather negative opinion of fear? Indeed, one must wonder why Christians who have been given a spirit of love and power as well as a sound mind would be so strongly motivated by the fear of what may be? And one wonders why Christian leaders would encourage such motivation through slippery slope arguments.