Friday, February 8, 2013

Bruce Willis gives perfect example of the slippery “slippery slope” argument

By Marc Jampole

The very fact that Bruce Willis has a say in the public controversy about gun control demonstrates once again that the United States suffers from the advanced stages of celebriosis, defined as excessive brain damage from focusing too much on the lives and thoughts of celebrities.

What pro-gun die-hard Willis said earlier this week is a classic in one special rhetorical device used by both sides to defend not changing a bad situation: the slippery slope.

And why will that happen of necessity? Just because we want to run people through background checks before they buy guns, how does that lead to taking away the right to assemble or the right not to have to house soldiers (3rd amendment)? With the “slippery slope” metaphor, the first act is like taking a step off a very icy hill. The exhilaration of the moment makes you lose balance and slide all the way down the hill, into tyranny, communism, lawlessness or whatever the bête noir du jour.
The slippery slope is a fanciful absurdity that’s different from taking something to its extreme because the argument for the slippery slope states that we will slide of necessity by taking that first step. Obviously it’s just not so.
The classic slippery slope was actually a line of dominos, representing countries in Asia, all set to fall to the communists if the first one, South Viet Nam, did.  The sheer philosophical necessity of all the dominos falling once Viet Nam did haunted a generation of U.S. government officials, leading to a war of unparallelled brutality and suffering. But when we lost Viet Nam, most of the other dominos stayed standing—and in fact in recent decades Viet Nam has moved into capitalist circles. There was no domino effect and there is no slippery slope.
In the interest of balance, one article quoting Willis’ inanities included the opposing views of someone equally as qualified to speak publicly on the issue of gun control—since he too has used plenty of fake guns in Hollywood shoot-em-ups. It was good old slurry-voiced Rocky, AKA Sylvester Stallone, who supports a ban on assault weapons, saying “I know people get (upset) and go, ‘They're going to take away the assault weapon.’ Who needs an assault weapon? Like really, unless you're carrying out an assault. You can't hunt with it. Who's going to attack your house, a (expletive) army?”
Maybe that’s the problem? Maybe Bruce is confusing his filmic chimeras in which an eff-ing army could attack his house with the real world? Maybe Bruce has taken a few too many punches in his movie roles? It’s good to see that Rocky hasn’t.

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