Wednesday, December 14, 2022

A Short Ride to the Bottom

Some people refer to the slippery slope argument as a fallacy. They contend that there are many places between the top and bottom of a hill where an out-of-control slide may be arrested, and that therefore one little step downward does not make descent into the abyss inevitable.

In some cases, this may even be true. Most kids who spend endless hours playing first person shooter video games don’t go on killing sprees in high schools. On the other hand, there is plenty of hard data to establish the through-line from single motherhood to offspring criminality.

Some slopes are more slippery than others, I guess.

From Gay Marriage to Pedophilia

When conservatives claimed the legalization of gay marriage would lead to the normalization of pedophilia, the overwhelming response from society was that their slippery slope argument was fallacious. “It doesn’t have to happen that way.” The media painted sad pictures of committed gay couples unable to enjoy the legal protections of heterosexuals, barred from hospital bedsides and excluded from the funerals of loved ones, unable to inherit property or exercise parental rights. So Western society took one little step down the hill, heedless of what might be underfoot.

We didn’t realize at the time that the express lane to socially acceptable pedophilia went through the flamboyant little town of Trans Rights, but now that Doug Ford’s “conservative” Ontario government is sponsoring all-ages Christmas-themed drag shows, I think we can safely say the LGBTQ’s end game has become just a little more obvious. Grooming has now been normalized, and it’s not hard to guess where we go from here.

Good work, conservatives.

From Physical to Psychological

Back in 2016, I attended a conference at which an Ontario doctor — a committed Christian — described the ethical mess he believed would inevitably follow from a Supreme Court ruling in early 2015. I don’t remember if he used the words “slippery slope”, but they most certainly applied. The court found that a prohibition on assisted suicide violates section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the case of a competent adult suffering from a “grievous and irremediable medical condition” that causes “enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual”. This set the stage for Bill C-14, or the MAID (medical assistance in dying) law.

Fast forward to May 2021, when MAID received a not-so-subtle tweak. The “reasonable foreseeability of natural death” is no longer a requirement. As of March 2023, a mental illness qualifies one for assisted death, and anyone over eighteen with decision-making capacity can receive help checking out of this world if they so desire. All that is required for legal assisted suicide is that the person “have enduring and intolerable physical or psychological suffering that cannot be alleviated under conditions the person considers acceptable”. Depression and personality disorders are now acceptable reasons for government assisted death. Would-be suicides with neurocognitive disorders like dementia, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s need not even wait for March, as these are not considered mental illnesses.

That sure sounds like a slippery slope to me.

From Alleviating Medical Suffering to Ending Poverty

The changes to the law led a former chef to apply for MAID. A fifty-something Toronto resident suffering from “long COVID”, Tracey Thompson has no foreseeable ability to work and an absence of financial support. She says, “My choices are basically to die slowly and painfully, or quickly. Those are the options that are left.” Then there is Mitchell Tremblay, who doesn’t have long COVID or anything else physically wrong with him. Diagnosed with PTSD, the 39-year old has been on disability assistance since the age of 18 when his parents kicked him out of the house. Tired of being broke and homeless, Tremblay has also applied to MAID to end his life.

The CTV News piece describing these two candidates for termination stops just short of being promotional material for the government program. One doctor interviewed concedes that it is “very difficult to tease out ... when suffering is related to the fact people don’t have housing or food”. Since the effects of poverty and related issues on a person’s morale are “impossible to discount”, no distinction is made by Canadian physicians between medical suffering and the predictable effects of a lifestyle considered less than desirable.

You Don’t Have Any Place Here

Tracey Thompson sums it up as follows:

“The government as a body is telling people that they’re willing to assist them to death because they don’t have enough money to live with dignity. That is a pretty clear signal to me that, unless you are able-bodied enough or able-minded enough to work to produce profit, then you don’t have any place here. That seems really clear to me.”

This does not seem an unreasonable conclusion, but it puts our government in an odd position considering they are supposed to be elected representatives of the Canadian people. When average Canadians talk of the need to “end poverty”, we do not usually mean we’d like to accomplish it by killing the poor. Medically assisted suicides in Canada hit 10,000 last year, over 3% of all Canadian deaths, and that was prior to the expansion of acceptable reasons to seek death. Moreover, nobody has come close to estimating the effect of inverting the health care mandate to measure medical success in terms of ending life rather than saving it. Health care professionals are not yet obligated by law to help people end their lives, but how does one distinguish between death merchants and those who have yet to take the devil’s coin? Would you trust your own critical care to a doctor or nurse whose conscience may have been seared with a hot iron? I wouldn’t.

Something like this doesn’t happen accidentally. It’s policy.

From Helping to Marketing

Further, consider that though MAID itself says nothing about doctors actively promoting assisted suicide, some medical professionals were already doing so as early as 2019. Now, it looks as if other branches of the Canadian government are also getting involved in marketing death. A paraplegic former member of the Canadian military says the Department of Veteran’s Affairs offered her MAID and all necessary equipment to end her life when she persisted in fighting them over the cost of a wheelchair ramp for five years. I guess fatally toxic substances come cheaper than wheelchair ramps. Christine Gauthier, a Paralympian who has no interest in ending her life, wrote Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to complain. Trudeau called the offer “absolutely unacceptable”, but it demonstrates that the line between permission and promotion is razor thin, at least wherever department budgets are involved.

I don’t remember who coined the expression “What you permit, you promote”, but it’s been around for a while. In economic language, “You get more of whatever you put up with.” In biblical language, “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.”

One implication there is that the “let’s wait and see” crowd bears a moral responsibility for what happens while they sit on their hands. At very least, those who put forward slippery slope arguments against new legal initiatives should not be lightly dismissed. They have plenty of history on their side. One little step down does not always lead to the bottom, but often it does. In this case, we are way down the hill already, and picking up speed.

And nobody knows what the bottom looks like yet.

1 comment :

  1. You’re right to say “some slopes are slipperier than others.” But some are also so short they’re not much of a “slope”, too.

    The first essay EVER in the burgeoning field of what became known as “Queer Theory” was this one. And it took less than one paragraph before the author was advocating “intergenerational encounters”. (You can guess what that means.)

    The *very first* paragraph.

    So while Christians speculated that homosexuality MIGHT lead to pedophelia, it was already zooming down the slope at mach speeds -- so fast, in fact, that Christians never even saw it go by. As we continued to debate whether or not Christian objections were unfair and excessive. the homosexual lobby already had us in the rear-view mirror, disappearing into the distance.

    I think that’s interesting to know. And I’ll just bet you that most Christians have not the foggiest idea it even happened.