The Law Of The Impossible-Necessary Slope


My friend Rod Dreher coined the Law of Merited Impossibility, which governs the discourse of elite opinion makers, and states that it’s impossible to believe that Christians should suffer from progressive cultural victories, and that when they do they’ll have it coming.

In the same spirit, and thanks to Rod again, I offer the clunkily named (I welcome better suggestions) Law of the Impossible-Necessary Slope, which goes something like this: when a conservative warns that reform A will lead via slippery slope to reform B, the progressive response will be that such a suggestion is outlandish and impossible; when reform B happens, the progressive line will be that not only is it necessary and just, but it is only the logical consequence of now-accepted reform A.

There are many examples of this, but one of the clearest is euthanasia. Rod:

Let’s face it, says the ghoulish Dr. Jean-Marie Vincent, a prominent Belgian professor of medicine, the number of doctor-facilitated euthanasias in Belgium each year is far above the official number, because doctors are deciding themselves that even though the patient is not suffering uncontrollable pain, it’s time for them to die. But the Belgian law must go further, says Dr. Vincent, speaking for his country’s professional society of intensive care doctors;

Doctors need the right to administer drugs to euthanize a patient whose “life quality has become too poor” — even if the patient has not consented. The statement signed by Dr. Vincent and the medical society says that doctors must have authorization in law to put patients to death who have not asked for euthanasia, and whose families may be opposed to it; though “full consideration of the wishes of the family” must be taken, the final decision must rest with the physician.

This of course comes on the heels of the signing of a euthanasia-for-children law. I am sure any euthanasia opponent who had suggested 15 years ago that legalizing euthanasia for the elderly would lead to euthanasia for children would have been decried as a crazed fear-monger.

Debates about euthanasia are often very difficult, because most euthanasia supporters come to this position after a painful personal experience of a loved one’s death, and reach their position out of a heartfelt sympathy. Abstract arguments about the sanctity or value of life are often very ineffective.

But the prudential argument is, it seems to me, unassailable: while it’s possible in theory to design a “death with dignity” (urgh) regime that does not lead to atrocious Nazi-like rampant murder, in practice it has always proved impossible.

But, of course, slippery slopes don’t exist, and any suggestion that they do is outrageous. Until the next step in the slope is taken, at which point it is necessary, just, proper, and inevitable.

Let us pray for victims and executioners, and for all of us sinners, who are responsible for the sins of the world.

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