By Sophia Fox Sowell
…or how conservatives always look to the darkest extremes just to score a dubious political point. The slippery slope of GOP politics.
Politicians, usually to the far right near the Bengay and hearing aids, like to use the phrase, “slippery slope,” when they’re up against a bill about to be put to a vote. It usually involves some far fetched, exaggerated notion illustrating the fear for national or international socially acceptable security should we slip and fall without end down the rabbit hole and find ourselves in an alternate universe where die hard American heterosexual religious fanatic white male patriots are the minority and more progressive minds have the votes for a change.
The United States is certainly climbing an uphill battle, but what will we trip on first, the cross or the rifle?
Before the Supreme Court ‘s game changing decision in Obergefell v. Hodges) to make same sex marriage legal last year, the argument went a little something like this (paraphrased, of course):
“If same sex couples are allowed to marry and receive the same legal benefits of heterosexual couples, what’s next? Will we legalize pedophilia and their child brides or the marriage between a man and his dog? It’s a slippery slope to legalize gay marriage and I for one will cast my vote against this bill in order to preserve the Christian definition of marriage between a man and a woman and keep America pure so this country doesn’t end up delivered to hell in a hand basket!”
You’re probably thinking, Moves, that’s a grave embellishment of the truth. But is it?
Kim Davis, the county clerk from Rowan County, Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses to two same-sex couples in June of 2015, didn’t seem to think so. Davis stated that she was acting under, “god’s authority,” to uphold the Bible’s definition of marriage. Despite her religious beliefs, the Supreme Court ruled that as a civil servant, she swore a duty to follow the law not defy it.
Since the case, Davis continues to receive accolades as “God’s chosen one” from the Christian community, calling her a martyr for their cause. All this praise for a woman whose own marital record mirrors Kim Kardashian’s failed relationships! She has been married four times and divorced three – oh yeah, she’s the poster child for the Catholic Church all right.
Along the same lines, the government largely controls education in America, at least in public schools. And on that note, Sex Education in this country is a fucking travesty. Speaking as a young woman who attended Catholic School for both Elementary and High School, it comes as no surprise that I learned that saving yourself before marriage is the only form of birth control I needed to prevent early sexual activity…riiiiight, and girls don’t have periods and boys don’t get erections during class. Awhuh, you just keep holding on to that American Dream, Father Timothy!
Teenagers act like every day is opposite day; tell them not to have sex, and well, they’ll be going at it like rabbits before you offer them a purity ring. Proper Sex Education is the only scientifically proven teaching method that effectively educates young students about how to safely initiate in sexual activities by giving them lessons on birth control, STDs, and making the decision to have sex their own. Yet despite the overwhelming lack of scientific evidence that Abstinence Only Sex Education does not actually prevent teens from engaging in sex, limit their number of partners, promotes safe sexual encounters, or reduces teen pregnancy. Congress still managed to spend nearly $2 billion over the last 25 years on abstinence only programs. Welcome to politics in a conservative nation.
The Kim Davis controversy in addition to the diminished sex education in America perfectly exemplify the only two slippery slopes that continue to obstruct the United States government’s objectivity since its inception in the 18th century:
The idea that the Constitution and its Amendments are written as universal omniscient laws instead of laws that need to adjust and change based on current events and the needs of modern America.
But now that Gay Marriage and Sex Education are no longer the hot buttons to push for debate, the new “slippery slope” obstacle course is of course, gun control.
The Second Amendment goes something like this ““A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
This epidemic is an unnatural phenomenon that can no longer be subscribed to a few bad apples that were mentally unstable and had unfortunate access to deadly firearms. No, these criminals were in fact quite lucid conspirators when they legally purchased weapons capable of mass destruction and then open fired in a school, movie theater, mall, or other public place under their own accord – acting alone or within a group to cause immediate harm to innocent people under the guise of civil liberty.
According to the Gun Violence Archive in Washington D.C., there were 330 mass shootings in America in 2015, just 35 days shy of statistically a mass shooting every day. There have been 45 mass shootings this year so far. We’re only on day 70 of 365, and already more than half the days on this calendar are marked by mass gun violence.
In 2014, the Center for Disease Control declared guns a public health risk – forcing the National Rifle Association and other right wing politicians to look at the scope of destruction gun violence has caused to the population from a medical perspective as opposed to simply a judicial one. By bringing doctors to the frontlines, it greatly reduces the distance between the two. Gun violence is not isolated in America; but mass shootings amongst civilians are a national domestic threat that doesn’t affect other developed countries. The gun murder rate in America is 20 times higher than Germany, Canada, Greece, and Italy. Furthermore, since 2011 more than 478,000 fatal and non-fatal crimes involved a firearm, according to the Department of Justice.
The NRA and Gun Rights Activists continue to invoke the Second Amendment as their defense for why they remain unmoved by the astronomical increase in gun violence over the past two decades. Or they say, “Well if one of the victims had a gun, they could have stopped the shooter.” Yes, because by all logical standards, one dead criminal and countless injured or murdered victims far outweighs the safety concerns than if guns were limited & more difficult to access and mass shootings became a dark stain of the past. Wrong! Statistically, if you build a pool in your backyard, you increase your risk of drowning. In the same light, if you purchase a firearm, and keep it on your person, in your car, or around your house, you increase your chance of a gun related incident – be it an accident or a purposeful deed. By removing the catalyst of both events [guns], you subsequently remove the immediate threat.
This radical legislation has been proven to work – just look at Australia. In response to a mass shooting in April 1996, newly elected conservative Prime Minister John Howard, it announced a bipartisan deal with state and local governments to enact sweeping gun-control measures. The country’s new gun laws prohibited private sales, required that all weapons be individually registered to their owners, and required that gun buyers present a “genuine reason” for needing each weapon at the time of the purchase. (Self-defense did not count.) Violent crime and gun-related deaths did not come to an end in Australia, of course, but homicides by firearm plunged 59 percent between 1995 and 2006, with no corresponding increase in non-firearm-related homicides AND the drop in suicides by gun was even steeper: 65 percent.
Former Chief Justice Warren Burger describes the Second Amendment as, “A fraud on the American public.” It gives an unfettered individual right to a gun. When he spoke these words to PBS in 1990, the rock-ribbed conservative appointed by Richard Nixon was expressing the longtime consensus of historians and judges across the political spectrum. The right to bear arms for individual purpose is only because the NRA has sued thousands of times trying to get ONE judge to accept the idea that, well, if we just ignore the first part of the second amendment, we can do whatever we want and guarantee unlimited access to firearms. In the 2008, they succeeded. In the landmark case, District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court set precedent and cleared the road for guns rights activists to run wild.
Though in their defense, the recently active militarization of civilian police departments and the 2001 Patriot Act may have something to do with some citizens’ need for “the right to bear arms,” in the context of a well regulated militia.
The Department of Defense passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997, legislation that allows the Government’s Defense Logistics Agency to transfer excess military equipment to law enforcement agencies. As of 2014, $5.1 billion dollars worth of military equipment had been transferred to local police departments including surplus aircraft, bayonets, tactical armored vehicles, weapons like grenade launchers, tear gas, and army grade assault guns. In addition to police tactics, these weapons have been used during riots, protects, and interrogations.
Last year, President Obama announced limits on the types of military equipment which can be transferred to police departments and the implementation of training programs to assure the appropriate use of other items, stating, “We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like it’s an occupying force as opposed to a force that’s part of the community.” – that and the Stanford Prison Experiment, the prison at Abu Ghraib, and the entirety of Guantanamo Bay. Naturally the police department is accusing the White House of jeopardizing police safety. Give me a break!
In a similar response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Patriot Act gave law enforcement officers permission to search a home or business without the owner’s or the occupant’s consent or knowledge, amongst other provisions, if terrorist activities were suspected. Paralleling the American revolutionists’ revolutionary idea towards the British military, Americans believed this to be grave invasion of privacy and violation of our civil liberties & constitutional rights.
The Constitution was written to enact laws against the immediate threat of British tyranny – the right to free speech against King George, the right to bear arms – so Americans could protect themselves from the British army unlawfully entering their homes, and the right to a fair trial – so that people like Kim Davis, who are quite obviously in the wrong, have the right to defend themselves, just like any other American. But the Constitution is not Hammurabi’s code. It was not written on a slab of stone, it was written with a quill pen using ink and paper and was a reflection of the laws necessary for the sovereign state of America to survive. We gained our independence and we’ve kept it, but now it’s time to keep our humanity.