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When the Slippery Slope is Real

CL62 - hbratton notxt webMany people lump together all of the social changes that have taken place in American history as part of one broad march of “progress” toward a more just society. If this view is correct, does the march of progress ever reach completion?

There is a classic debate between progressives and traditionalists on social issues. It generally goes something like this:

Progressive: How about we just let people do this thing that we used to disapprove of? Some of them are really nice people.

Traditionalist: Are you serious!? If you approve of that, what’s next!? The other thing!?

Progressive: That’s ridiculous, the other thing has nothing to do with this thing and no reasonable person would ever bring up the other thing! There’s no need to worry about that.

Traditionalist: Well, please excuse my intolerance, but can you explain to me why the principle that justifies this thing does not lead to the other thing?

Progressive: You just can’t handle progress. This conversation is OVER!

This is known as the “slippery slope” argument. At the current time, the issue that can be identified as “this thing” would be a behavior, same-sex marriage, and “the other thing” can be a host of other traditionally unacceptable behaviors.

The Supreme Court of the United States is virtually certain to legalize same-sex marriage with a decision that will be announced in June of this year. This would place our country along with Canada, Spain, France, Great Britain, Brazil, and several others where persons of the same sex can “marry” one another legally. Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy, given his reasoning in the Windsor case, is very likely to join progressive justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan in the decision, forming a majority on the nine person court. The court’s traditionalists will, predictably, be painted by the media as mean carmudgeons, the opponents of progress, and being on the wrong side of history.

This event will blow the door wide open to the question, “what’s next?” Surely, the march of progress toward justice and equality for all shall not stop in June of 2015? While progressives are currently claiming that this has nothing to do with any “other thing” such as plural marriage, incest, or bestiality, a careful reading of the news will show otherwise.

First up: Plural Marriage. An American man who grew up with “old Mormon” ways is wondering why people cannot accept who he chooses to love in a piece on Salon.com. His conclusion echoes the reasononing of same-sex marriage: “I respect any consenting adult’s right to marry whomever they want. Can you ever respect mine?”

Next in line: Incest. With the whimsical title “What it’s Like to Date Your Dad”, New York Magazine tells the story of an 18 year-old woman who intends to marry her father after a romantic relationship of almost two years. Her response to critics? “I just don’t understand why I’m judged for being happy.” Does this logic sound familiar? Who could be against happiness? With this same criterion of happiness justifying same-sex marriage, how could society deny this woman her marital bliss with the partner of her choice?

Don’t forget: bestiality. A different New York Magazine article with a tolerant attitude toward a man who enjoys sexual relations with a horse caught the attention of the progressive, agnostic columnist and insightful social observer, Damon Linker. Linker is a supporter of same-sex marriage but he is being honest with himself when he asks, “Is It Now OK to have sex with animals?

Considering the relativist moral logic that has allowed same-sex marriage and being a bit alarmed by the bestiality article in New York Magazine, Linker concludes:

Is that good enough? Can we do without a publicly affirmed vision of human flourishing? Fulfilling personal preferences (whatever they happen to be), seeking consent in all interactions, and abiding by the imperative of universal niceness — is that sufficient to bring happiness? Or will a world that tells us in a million ways that we are radically undetermined in our ends leave us feeling empty, lost, alone, unmoored, at sea, spiritually adrift?

I have no idea.

But I suspect we’re going to find out soon enough.

Linker has discovered the slippery slope. Without unchanging standards of morality from God or natural law, moral relativists are clinging only to vauge ideas of equality and tolerance. As a result, those who celebrate the probable Supreme Court decision in June legalizing same-sex marriage should also be prepared to fully embrace plural marriage, incest, and bestiality as socially and morally acceptable because, for some people, that’s what makes them happy. The march of “progress” goes on.


Arnold Scott is a joyful convert to the Catholic Church from evangelical protestant communities.  He is a financial professional residing with his family in the New England area.  He welcomes any feedback at arnoldscott (at) lycos.com. 


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  • Pax

    you left out the man/boy love association. ( aka pedophilia). All we need is a few ‘studies’ that prove the only ‘harm’ done to children is caused ‘stigmatization’ of this entirely natural relationship. After all aren’t these people , ‘just the way God made them’. l have an aunt who is a progressive psychologist and she already believes pedophiles have an unchangeable orientation.

    • bps

      It’s been done. The Kinsey Report says pretty much exactly that.

  • Mickey D

    You have bracketed the argument well in such a short space. Maybe we can follow John Gault to a new place of sanity and start over.

  • Guy McClung

    Imagine the new CateSchism from the German Cardinals and bishops:

    Those in a meaningful relationship with their dogs , although they do not yet enjoy the fullness of marriage, will be welcomed to sacraments, provided for free, as Christ welcomed everyone [so long as they sign up with the government and pay their required Kirchensteuer-ChurchTax]. So that canine sensibilities are not hurt, approrpiate accommodation will be made at chruches with doggy rooms and dog biscuits at communion.

    From Catholic Answers Forum, Dec. 2013:

    In a prescient prophetic New Oxford Review Note, “There Goes the
    Village” (Nov. 2012) the case was made that the world is careening down
    the path to legalized polygamy, polyandry, and incest. Based on what
    we’ve already accepted from our Supreme Court — the creation out of
    whole cloth of so-called constitutional rights to abortion, and to
    sodomy — there is nothing to prevent the Court from similarly exercising
    its assumed almighty legislative power in legislating from the bench
    its morality and creating a constitutional right not only to polygamy,
    but to many actions now called perversions. The recent lower court
    ruling finding laws on polygamy unconstitutional implicitly creates the
    right to polygamy. Like the “right” to abortion — which was heretofore
    “hidden” in constitutional shadows intentionally put there by our
    Founding Fathers in 1781, but penetrable only by today’s divine-wise
    judges — we can expect constitutionally guaranteed rights of every
    American to have sexual intercourse with her dog, with his dead mother,
    with minors, with multiple spouses, with his children, or with her
    favorite cow or oak tree. And the right to any kind of sexual act
    simultaneously with as many people as one wishes, everyone who “likes”
    them in social media. Imagine the “teaching materials,” complete with
    detailed diagrams, that Planned Parenthood will provide our kindergarten
    and elementary schoolchildren, with “no parents allowed” mentoring and
    field trips! Imagine how proud the Progressives will be in the “We love
    our Animals and Children” parades, engaging in public sex on
    flower-decorated floats. No liberal/progressive constitutional law
    scholar can deny that under constitutional “principles” as they are in
    effect today, the “rights” to perverse sex are on their way. Sex with
    your maltese puppy ? Welcome to Progressive Eden. Sex with your seven
    year old neice, or nephew ? Welcome to Liberal Paradise. The only
    lawsuits in the future will be those in which the ACLU challenges laws
    that require the constitutionally-protected rights to bestiality,
    pedophilia, necrophilia, pederasty, and incest to be exercised in
    private. And the ACLU will win. Guy McClung, San Antonio”

  • Howard

    July 24: Germany invades Belgium.
    July 25: England declares war.
    July 26: Germany promises not to annex Belgium.
    July 27: England withdraws from the war.
    July 28: Germany annexes Belgium, England declares war.
    July 29: Germany promises not to annex France, England withdraws from the war.
    July 30: Germany annexes France, England declares war.
    July 31: Germany promises not to annex England.
    Aug. 1: England withdraws from the war. Germany invades England.

    How long is anybody expected to go on with that sort of game; or keep peace at that illimitable price? How long must we pursue a road in which promises are all fetishes in front of us; and all fragments behind us?

    — G.K. Chesterton, The Barbarism of Berlin

    It really takes very few modifications to apply that to contemporary society. Start by replacing “Germany invades Belgium” with the legalization of divorce.

    • goral

      Looks to me like the problem was England then and is England now. If not in the geopolitical sense than certainly in the moral political sense.