I just opened “The Tyranny of Cliches” to a random page. It is the start of Chapter 9, “Slippery Slope,” and it begins with quotations from Hume, Lincoln and T.S. Eliot. Then we’re treated to the prose of Mr. Jonah Goldberg, who is here to share his presentation on “slippery slopes.” It reads very much like a high school student’s essay assignment:
Ultimately slippery slope arguments are a mixed bag. They are useful as a way to reinforce good dogma, but they are also used to reinforce bad dogma. Similarly they can scare us away from bad policies and good policies alike. There are good slippery slope arguments and bad ones for good ends and bad ends.
What insight! What a masterful grasp of nuance! Let’s try one of our own: Airplanes can be used for good things and bad things. Some airplanes carry medicine or ice cream, but other airplanes carry bombs or bad people. But an airplane with bombs might be good because the bombs are for using on bad guys, and on the other airplane maybe the ice cream has melted.