Often times in debates and discourse over hotly divided issues the oft-used, seldom supported slippery slope argument rears its head.
It is common knowledge to every one on the left that the right is the home of the slippery slope. I have even been known to sling a few slippery slopes around myself. One of the current issue where liberals become so exhausted with conservatives over their use of slippery slope is, of course, gay marriage.
So one would expect when looking at the current evolution debate that Christians and those on the right would be the ones most loundly injecting the term into the debate. You may expect that, but you would be wrong.
An op-ed in the New York Times today explains to all the simpletons out there that intelligent design is just a gateway to for Bible-thumpers to get all your school children “saved.”
That is not entirely true, maybe true enough for Newsweek, but here is the actual quote from the editorial:
They [the supporters of reforms in the science cirriculum of the Kansas school system] insist that they are not even trying to incorporate intelligent design into state science standards – that all they want is a critical analysis of supposed weaknesses in the theory of evolution. That may be less innocuous than it seems. Although the chief critics say they do not seek to require the teaching of intelligent design, they add the qualifier “at this point in time.” Once their foot is in the door, the way will be open.
Whoa, we’d better lock and bar the door to make sure those evil intelligent design scientists don’t come in to rape and pillage. Hide all the science text books and your young daughters – Intelligent Design supporters are in town.
While the New York Times attempts to hide the slippery slode argument by not using those words, Clarence Page blares it from the headline: ‘Intelligent design’ a slippery slope.
Page not only uses the slippery slope tactic, he even gives us scare quotes around “intelligent design” for the entire article. Showing the world that if anyone knows how to resort to base level debating and dismissal of an opposing viewpoint, its Clarence Page
He also references the 1925 Scopes or Monkey Trial*, which ironically enough, it is within the Scopes trial that we find, presumably, the first public use of the slippery slope in reference to the evolution and creation debate. Guess which side it was on?
If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools, and the next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men…After while, your honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind.
So, it seems that the slippery slope argument has been with us for a long time, just not always on the side where it is supposed to reside.
I guess all we need to sink the debate to the basest level would be for someone to refer to proponents of Intelligent Design as analogous to communist or for someone to fulfill Godwin’s law. (The mainstream media takes care of the communists and the blogs take care of the Nazis.)
*For more information on the Scopes Trial and the many misconceptions about the trial go here.