Menu lock

Posted

Dec 5, 2011

Do I really need to explain to Andrew Bolt why the “slippery slope” is a logical fallacy?

Some hilarious dumb in Andrew’s

Pure Poison IconSome hilarious dumb in Andrew’s attempted defence in today’s paper of the slippery slope fallacy, sorry, “argument”:

When you destroy the traditional idea of a marriage being between a man and a woman, in favour of a union between any two consenting adults, you invite more changes.

Why stop at two? Why not also “respect” unions between a man and two women? After all, polygamy has what same sex marriage does not – religious backing in Islam, and historical precedents everywhere.

Yes, this is the slippery slope argument that social “reformers” sneer at, arguing we’re smart enough to know how much is enough when we start smashing.

Yes, how else to determine where we draw the line? Which is why Bolt now apparently endorses a return to Biblical marriage, where a woman must marry her rapist and the man rules over her.

What, too far? No, sorry. When you destroy the traditional Biblical idea of a marriage being between a Christian man and a Christian woman, in favour of a union between any two consenting adults, you invite more changes. Why stop at atheists? Why not also “respect” polygamy?

Only the rules in the Bible stop us falling down the slippery slope. If you let women be treated as equal, then eventually people will marry dogs. Why not? You’ve already abandoned the Bible, the only clear rules on what should be acceptable. And why should non-Christians be allowed to marry? Recognising non-Christian marriage is the first step to allowing people to marry a tree. Once you’ve abandoned the Biblical principles, where do you stop?

It couldn’t possibly be the case that we can review each development on its merits, and if it has more problems than benefits draw the line there like rational human beings, could it?

Nope. As soon as we let women not marry their rapists, we brought the rest of this on ourselves. And if we don’t want to find ourselves being forced to marry a stockpile of Australian uranium on a dock in India, then we must return to those Biblical principles immediately. All non-Christian marriages must be annulled. All divorcees must be forced to go back to living with their first husband. All rapists must be let out of jail and forced to marry their victims.

Because if we don’t, then where will it end?

PS I did like Andrew’s little concession disguised as a dismissal – “The legal difference between those unions and marriages are usually small”. Oh, so you concede that there still are differences before the law in how they’re treated, do you?

But as long as they don’t affect you, you don’t mind?

PPS Seriously, I doubt Andrew Bolt is really stupid enough not to understand why the “slippery slope” is a fallacy. Which begs the question, then – why does he run an argument he knows is misleading and false? What is he trying to do? (Note: suggestions on what readers suspect he is trying to do will be tightly moderated, so as to protect our right to speak in these dark times.)

We recommend

From around the web

Powered by Taboola

91 comments

91 thoughts on “Do I really need to explain to Andrew Bolt why the “slippery slope” is a logical fallacy?

  1. Clarke Steve

    There is something ironic that this Crikey blog has attracted so many comments that it almost looks like an Andrew Bolt blog

    PS (I don’t read any of his blogs either).

  2. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    I would say Bolt agrees they should have the right to marry

    I would agree with you – but why support a sensible policy you believe in when you can whip up fear and outrage instead?

    I won’t bother digging the post up, you can search for it yourself, but a few years ago Bolt supported the right of a teenage boy to take his boyfriend to the formal. The homophobic vitrol in his comment thread became so bad Bolt had to ask his readers to cut it out, all the while feigning surprise that the illiterate rednecks who make up a large percentage of his readership could ever be so bigoted. I mean, who knew?

    I think it says a lot about Bolt and the readership he courts that he would rather make a weak, intellectually vapid, short term attack on the left than be pragmatic on the issue.

  3. AR

    When Sharia rules, as a result of somodists (Queensbury when slandering Wilde) being allowed to demolish straight marriage, will we no longer be able to say that Blot and his ilk are telling porkies? Will they have to be 4 Square beef pies?

  4. Matthew of Canberra

    “no more virgins,”

    Sounds good for everybody.

  5. Fran Barlow

    The Blot does have some company doping the slipery slope of course … I’m wondering how much though he will like this particular fellow traveler:

    No more virginity in Saudi if women drive, says council

    [If women were allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, the result would be catastrophic and lead to “no more virgins,” said clerics from the Majlis al-Ifta al-Aala, the country’s highest religious council.

    Women in the country have been pushing to drive, and a number of women have driven in protest to the ultra-conservative country’s ban on female drivers in recent months.

    They face public lashings, jail and ostracism if discovered driving in the only country in the world where women are not allowed to take the wheel.

    The report from the Majlis, in coordination with former professor at King Fahd University Kamal Subhi, reported their findings to the Shura Council, the country’s legislative assembly.

    It warned that allowing women to drive would “provoke a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce.”

    Within 10 years of the ban being lifted, it claimed, there would be “no more virgins” in the Islamic kingdom.

    It comes after a previous report stated women should cover their faces in order to avoid showing off “tempting eyes” to men in the country.

    According to the spokesperson of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) in the conservative Gulf kingdom, women may soon be forced to don a full-face covering.

    Spokesman of the Ha’eal district, Sheikh Motlab al-Nabet said the committee has the right to stop a women whose eyes seem “tempting” and order her to cover them immediately.

    Saudi women are already forced to wear a loose black dress and to cover their hair and in some areas, their face, while in public or face fines or sometimes worse, including public lashings]

    Perhaps Andy can wander over and help them hold the line. First it’s women driving cars, men getting tempted and next thing you know, same sex marriage and then polygamy — oh wait … got the order wrong. They already have that). Maybe it’s p*kies? Oh well, you’ve got to draw a line in the sand somewhere.

  6. Matthew of Canberra

    “Why is it that Michael O’ Canberra is one of the few who seem to be able to discuss Bolt with insight.”

    Hang on … are you talking about me, or is there another MoC here?

    I’m not sure I like this suggestion that I talk about things with “insight”.

    Am I still copping a belting? I’m scared to look 🙂

  7. Cuppa

    [Why is it that Michael O’ Canberra is one of the few who seem to be able to discuss Bolt with insight. Perhaps it’s because he has actually read some of Bolts articles and contributed to some of his blogs, this must give him a better understanding of the man. Michael has copped a belting by many over there, I’ve seen it.]

    I think you mean Matthew of Canberra?

    And anyway, why would anyone with a finite lifespan bother to read Bolt? Certainly not to get opinions they’ll get nowhere else. They’ll get the same complexion of political spin from Bolt as comes out of talkback radio (name your station, name your jock), most any other opinionist at News Limited, Their ABC, numerous at Fairfax and commercial television.

    He has got nothing the multitudinous other right-wing straws in the haystack haven’t. No product differentiation – same old, same old, same old lockstep. Pass.

  8. RobJ

    Archer,

    Anything to say about my comment @ 67? re Sharia law in Australia.

  9. Sam Bauers

    John Birmingham rockin’ a new angle on the debate – Conservatives should like gay marriage because it makes gays more conservative

    Christopher Hitchens was making similar remarks as far back as 2004. Sparing the double entendre as well.

  10. Archer

    @Tomas Barava 69

    Excuse me, you’re right. Bolt defended Jones on the release of Jonestown by Chris Masters.

    The slippery slope is more than just about the marriage, I would say Bolt agrees they should have the right to marry. He has always been a fighter for integration and like it or not there are political undertones to this for the Labor Party. Not in the gay community or the tolerant straight community but fundamentalist religious communities Christian and Islamist (Lakemba)

    Aliar Jones @73

    he comes down on bloggers who really over step the mark.

    “Still believe in the tooth fairy do we?”

    I’ve never seen a tooth fairy Jones, but I have read Crikey and Bolt.

    Why is it that Michael O’ Canberra is one of the few who seem to be able to discuss Bolt with insight. Perhaps it’s because he has actually read some of Bolts articles and contributed to some of his blogs, this must give him a better understanding of the man. Michael has copped a belting by many over there, I’ve seen it.

  11. surlysimon

    I may be being a bit thick here but surely it was the coalition who took away our “traditional” marriage, if they hadn’t changed the law in 2004 we wouldn’t be having this debate because obviously under the law as it was (and had been since 1901 presumably) there was no prescription against couples of the same sex marrying, otherwise why change the law?

    So I want my traditional marriage back, why aren’t conservatives jumping up and down about the way the Howard government took away our traditional marriage.

    Just a thought

  12. Matthew of Canberra

    “it makes gays more conservative”

    Yep. And then they’ll be welcome at the country club.

  13. Brizben

    John Birmingham rockin’ a new angle on the debate – Conservatives should like gay marriage because it makes gays more conservative:
    [ ~ marriage is an inherently conservative institution. It binds and restricts and preserves. It constrains behaviour, encourages modesty, promotes the virtues of selflessness and sacrifice. In marriage the desires of the individual are subservient to the needs of the couple and the wider community.]

    Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/blogs/blunt-instrument/why-conservatives-should-heart-gay-marriage-20111205-1ofmg.html#ixzz1fjst4zn0

  14. Matthew of Canberra

    ” … open the floodgates for polygamous Islamic unions in Australia is dubious. “

    The irony is that conservative muslims are probably just as horrified by the possibility as conservative christians.

    Not that it’s going to happen in any case.

  15. Bob Hopeful

    Also, the claim that legalising gay marriage will open the floodgates for polygamous Islamic unions in Australia is dubious. The issue now is more about the secularisation of marriage, rather than its religious diversification.

  16. Bob Hopeful

    Bolt may not himself be homophobic, but he is not above using someone’s sexuality as a dog-whistle when the opportunity presents itself. I can recall him making an oblique reference to David Marr’s sexuality in a column which otherwise had nothing to do with it. And then there’s those comments about Marr that miraculously slipped through moderation on his blog.

  17. Matthew of Canberra

    “As I am a happily married man to my female partner of five years as are the vast majority of other married men & women.”

    Quick reading comprehension: An observation on the most common length of a marriage? An observation on how many people are married to his female partner? Or just an observation that most married men and women are … men and women? Or is he saying that most married men and women are happily married? I can’t tell.

  18. Fran Barlow

    Comment 8 of 13 was classic stream of consciousness. It was at best semi-literate though typical for the Blotsense world. I was intrigued by the claim that “vast majority of other married men & women” are “happily married men” to his “female partner of five years”. It seems that in his view of right and wrong, polygamous marriage by people of indeterminate s_xu@lity qualifies as right. He may be semi-literate but good on this chap for coming out in Blotworld to make the case.

    I’m a little unsure what he means by the “minority Politicians of Labor & Greens”. The last election result made them the majority. More people gave their primaries to the ALP and Greens than any other combination of parties. Perhaps he means to refer to some subset of Labor and Greens politicians.

    It is also intriguing that he wants them to go to buggery, but probably reflects his own polyamorous arrangements.

  19. Aliar Jones

    [he comes down on bloggers who really over step the mark.]

    Still believe in the tooth fairy do we?

  20. Brett Coster

    From The Oz comments on Turnbull pushing for a conscience vote:

    Rights preservation for heterosexual couples of Melbourne Posted at 1:21 PM Today

    I’m not religious but I do know right from wrong and I am qualified to comment on the subject of marrige between man & woman. As I am a happily married man to my female partner of five years as are the vast majority of other married men & women. On the behalf of all married couples as man & woman, “we object to Gay and lesbians” having the right to the tile of being a married couple. The “minority Politicians of Labor & Greens” do not have the right to change the equality of the majority married status of heterosexual couples for the sake of their minority party push for Gay marrige. Bugger off the lot of you, get back to running the country or better stil call an election.

    Comment 8 of 13

    Last sentence is a classic, given the topic.

  21. rhwombat

    Archer:

    1/Bolt isn’t homophobic, he’s Conophilic.

    2/“Oooh, Shiny! Look over there!”

    3/“Oooh, Shiny! Look over there!”

    PS Hello AB. Scraping much?

  22. Matthew of Canberra

    “1/Bolt is many things but I have read enough of his articles to know that he is not homophobic. “

    I agree. But some of his readers sure are.

    “2/Modern Mormons are giving up the tradition of polygamy. “

    So have other modern religions that previously embraced it 🙂

    “3/ Are you prepared to introduce Sharia law into our legal system to accommodate all legal proceedings regarding Islamic marriages and financial dealings in Australia?”

    In the form of civil arbitration courts, I don’t see a problem. Provided existing statutory rights remain protected, existing criminal laws take precedence and everyone participates with informed consent. Contracts that adhere to “sharia” rules are also fine as long as the previous considerations apply. I don’t see why somebody shouldn’t be able to buy a house using sharia finance if they want to, and if that’s going to happen than I don’t see why mainstream banks shouldn’t be allowed to offer those financial options, and why they shouldn’t be regulated just like any other financial offering.

    But there should only be one criminal code.

  23. Tomus Barava

    Archer @ 65
    3 strikes – how amusing

    1. Jones was outed in 1988 when he was arrested in a toilet in London – could you provide a link to where Mr Bolt “defended” him at that time?

    2. “Modern Mormons” – The LDS outlawed polygamy in 1890

    3. Raising Sharia Law – earns you the religious equivalent of a Godwin.

    It appears you don’t understand the difference between religious legal systems and general run of the mill legal systems do you?

  24. RobJ

    [1/Bolt is many things but I have read enough of his articles to know that he is not homophobic.]

    I tend to agree, though:

    [He fervently defended Alan Jones when he was outed ]

    Means nothing…

  25. RobJ

    [Are you prepared to introduce Sharia law into our legal system to accommodate all legal proceedings regarding Islamic marriages and financial dealings in Australia?]

    As long as those laws don’t break any of our laws then why not?

  26. B.Tolputt

    Bolt is many things but I have read enough of his articles to know that he is not homophobic. He fervently defended Alan Jones when he was outed and is a good friend of John Michael Howson.

    Oh yes, the “I’m not racist, I have black friends” argument. Sorry, defending a right-wing shock-jock and having one gay mate does not outweigh column upon column of supporting those who expressly consider homosexuality a mental illness, a spiritual perversion, or even just something worth discriminating against.

    I’ve never read a negative review or column about a politician because of their sexual orientation and he comes down on bloggers who really over step the mark.

    But not his own blog followers. Funny that, on might suspect that his commitment to sexual preference equality is not as strong as he makes out.

    Modern Mormons are giving up the tradition of polygamy. It’s only the die hards who live in segregated communities in the middle of nowhere who still adhere to the old ways in a strict manner.

    Actually, it is still church doctrine and remains so for the mainstream as well as the fundamentalist Mormons. They do not practice it today so as to keep the law of the land, in accordance to the demands of their Prophet, but it is (in their faith) something that will return to common practice when Jesus rules the planet again. It’s all part of their “married for eternity” thing (just ask them what happens to man who marries another woman after his previous wife dies).

    I was brought up mainstream Mormon here in Aus, so I can & will call bullsh%t on claims that are wrong about the religion – both those that slam it on false information or those that pretend it’s beliefs & practices are more mainstream than they actually are.

    Are you prepared to introduce Sharia law into our legal system to accommodate all legal proceedings regarding Islamic marriages and financial dealings in Australia?

    As it is not a necessity for same-sex marriage and we’re not the one’s pushing for an equal and non-discriminatory framework for polygamous marriages – I don’t see what that has to do with it. When there is a viable framework for polygamous marriages that somehow requires Sharia Law to be introduced – then get back to us.

  27. Archer

    1/Bolt is many things but I have read enough of his articles to know that he is not homophobic. He fervently defended Alan Jones when he was outed and is a good friend of John Michael Howson. I’ve never read a negative review or column about a politician because of their sexual orientation and he comes down on bloggers who really over step the mark.

    2/Modern Mormons are giving up the tradition of polygamy. It’s only the die hards who live in segregated communities in the middle of nowhere who still adhere to the old ways in a strict manner.

    3/ Are you prepared to introduce Sharia law into our legal system to accommodate all legal proceedings regarding Islamic marriages and financial dealings in Australia?

  28. Matthew of Canberra

    Arch @55

    “If a person does not agree with an institution that he or she values being tampered with, it does not make them Homophobic”

    I completely agree. I’ll let you choose any word you like. But have you READ some of those comments?!?

  29. Holden Back

    “Oooh, Shiny! Look over there!” One of my favourite rhetorical tactics.

  30. Sammy Jankis

    I’m really not that convinced that AB really believes in this polygamy argument. It’s so transparently silly, but it seems he trumpets it because his team in the culture wars is so close to losing this battle that he’ll do anything to help them out. Likewise with the “I have gay friends who don’t want to get married” angle, it may very well be true, but does he honestly see it as a good argument? I’m not sure.

    It’ll be interesting to see what his position on this is after the change. Will he just ignore the issue, perhaps pretending it never happened? Or will he trawl the internets for negative stories involving gay couples, pasting them into his blog to say “See? I warned you!”

  31. fred p

    For all the screams against the “slippery slope” argument, I have yet to hear same-sex marriage advocates give a cogent reason why marriage – in their opinion – may be between any two consenting adults of any sex, but not between three.

    Right, and I have yet to hear a cogent argument as to why support for same-sex marriage has to be inconsistent with opposition to multi-partner marriage. So maybe that’s why same-sex marriage proponents aren’t scrambling to meet this challenge: they understand that this attempted gotcha is a total non sequitur.

  32. fred p

    Duh, my comment @ 22 was being sarcastic. I thought that would’ve been obvious. I was trying to demonstrate the idiocy of meverz’s argument that once gay marriage was allowed there was no rational basis to disallow three people from marrying each other – to wit, If two guys can get married, why not 2 guys and a women? – by applying the same “logic” to heterosexual marriage, where it makes just as little sense.

    In other words, the argument that multi-partner marriage has to follow on from the legalisation of same sex marriages is as much of a non sequitur as an argument that multi-partner marriage would be inevitable once straight marriage became legal. Which would be because, you know, both gay marriage and straight marriage are completely different things to mutli-partner marriage, for reasons which are so obvious as not to require explanation. So yeah, we can legalise one thing without having to also accept legalisation of something else which is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

  33. Jeremy Sear

    For all the screams against the “slippery slope” argument, I have yet to hear same-sex marriage advocates give a cogent reason why marriage – in their opinion – may be between any two consenting adults of any sex, but not between three.

    I mean, they can’t appeal to “tradition” any more, can they?

    Well, if “tradition” was the only argument against polygamy, then of course it would deserve equality before the law.

    But I suspect that, when and if a polygamous model is presented for consideration, we will discover many other arguments against it. Arguments that don’t of course apply to same sex marriage.

  34. Jeremy Sear

    lol. By not addressing the point at all? I’d like to see this polygamy model he thinks we’re going to adopt.

    Because unlike gay marriage, the model for which we’re all well aware of and which is incredibly straight forward to legislate – just remove the parts of the Act that specify gender – and which having so much difficulty finding an argument against that he has to start talking about polygamy, something else entirely; unlike gay marriage, polygamy is complicated to legislate and raises serious difficulties of consent etc. For example, those marriages would have to have multiple layers – so that if partner B marries person C but partner A doesn’t, then A isn’t married to C – which makes regulating wills, guardianship, custody, taxation, etc a complete nightmare.

    Problems that don’t arise with gay marriage, of course.

    I love his HERE’S A GAY PERSON WHO DOESN’T WANT TO GET MARRIED SO THERE. Because if a straight person says he doesn’t believe in marriage, then of course that’s an argument to block marriage from every other heterosexual person.

  35. AR

    Cajela – thanks for that. Whenever the word “polygamy” comes up on CRIKEY I put up those definitions but they’re rarely remembered the next time the subject arises.
    Similarly, I & others have previously pointed out that churches don’t marry people, that is a function of the State Registrar, whose function is seconded to churches out of tradition.
    All a church does is wrap the registration in their specific smells’n’bells claptrap.

  36. Archer

    Matthew of Canberra
    Posted December 5, 2011 at 3:13 pm @40

    “Homophobia” used to refer to a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards lesbian and gay people and behavior. Definitions refer to irrational fear, with the implication of antipathy, contempt and aversion.The term “homophobia” is observable in critical and hostile behavior such as violence on the basis of a perceived homosexual or in some cases any non-heterosexual orientation.

    As John Michael Howson says. People confuse and over use the word Homophobia just as they overuse the word racist. What should be described as a differing of opinions becomes a slanging match.

    If a person does not agree with an institution that he or she values being tampered with, it does not make them Homophobic. They do not wish harm on the person.

    BTW: I am all for Gays having the same rights as others. I just don’t like the way the argument is heading.

  37. rhwombat

    The Sherpa clans used to practice polyandry. The Sherpas have been traders across the high altitude passes of the southern Tibetan plateau for at least 500 years, with the trading caravans having appalling attrition rates – much like the high altitude guiding/portering that they have become famous for in the last 80 years. As part of a complex system of sanctioned relationships, it was not uncommon for a woman to marry sets of brothers or male cousins (but never within the same clan) to ensure that the family persisted beyond the failed caravan. Polygyny was not permitted. The practice died out, at least amongst the Nepali Sherpa, after the opening of Nepal to the rest of the world in the 1930s.

    Cultural anthropology aside, I’m actually delighted that gay marriage has become a shibboleth for the Cons. It crystallises all their fears into a neat labelling prejudice: a sort of verbal pink triangle.

  38. sean

    When people say slippery slope they mean logical conclusion, it’s a poor debating tactic. It takes the form of a What if-, and is easily countered that way:

    What if gays married? Then polygamy!
    Heterosexuals marry, where’s the polygamy?
    Oh…

  39. Cajela

    davkel @ 19: no.

    Polygyny: many wives.
    Polyandry: many husbands.
    Polygamy: many marriage partners, sex unspecified.

    Historically most polygamy is of the one man & many wives variety.

  40. Matthew of Canberra

    I’m surprised by the quantity of “rubbing in faces” and “shoving down throats” going on over there.

    Time to lay off the hash, I reckon. I just hope they’re all taking precautions.