Friday, July 3, 2015

The Right-Wing's "Slippery Slope" Argument is "Jiggery Pokery"

It goes without saying that I seldom agree with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  However, I do give him credit for his linguistic intelligence.  Invariably, when Justice Scalia issues an opinion, it sends one scurrying for a dictionary.  When I heard him say the words, “jiggery-pokery” in his dissent in the Obamacare ruling last week, I was certain that he made it up or perhaps it was from a Harry Potter movie. I checked with Mr. Webster and it is indeed a word. 

“Jiggery-pokery” means dishonest or suspicious activity; trickery.  My stomach turned over.  I actually agreed with ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice Scalia!  It was jiggery-pokery!  After fifty failed attempts by the Senate and House to kill Obamacare, the Republicans found an error in the wording regarding who could receive subsidies. They found this unintentional error within the thousands of pages of the law.  Instead of saying “United States” the law says States.”  The intent of the law was clear and thank heavens, the majority of the Justices realized that this was nothing more than “Jiggery-pokery” by the Republicans and those who don’t care about lower income Americans having health insurance.  Jiggery-Pokery is my new favorite word.

The other words he used in his decision “that’s pure applesauce” will never catch on.  Somehow that doesn’t express a high level of nonsense and exaggeration as my old favorite word, “BS!”

While we’re on the subject of words, there is a phrase that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I hear it.  Those words are “slippery slope.”  This term is usually used by right-wingers when they don’t have an argument of facts about a particular subject.  The term “slippery slope” is scary.  Nobody wants to go there.  This term does not conjure up a happy ending in our mind.  Oh no!  We can’t go down that slippery slope!   People who use that term find it very effective because it’s hard for anyone to argue with a fallacy.  However, not all “slippery slopes” are bad.

All progress in this country started on a slippery slope. Opposition to freeing slaves in the mid-1800’s was so great that a civil war was fought.  Thank goodness Abraham Lincoln went down that slippery slope and freed the slaves.  The term “slippery slope” did not exist then, but I’m sure arguments around the general store wood stove by white men went something like this:  “First you give ‘em freedom, then next they’ll want to vote.  Then they’ll take our jobs and demand to be paid the same as White men.”  Of course, they couldn’t see a slippery slope so dangerous that may end with a black man being elected president.

It took 100 years of women protesting by the likes of Susan B. Anthony, to finally be allowed the right to vote. (That was in 1920; not really that many years ago).  I can hear the opponents of enfranchising women saying, “We can’t go down that slippery slope!  If we allow them to vote, next they will demand the same rights as a man.  They will then insist they be paid the same as a man doing the same job.  They will expect men to wash dishes.  Then they may run for public office.  And heaven forbid, one day a woman may be elected President of the United States!”

No slippery slope journey in our country has been quick and easy.  Although we’ve made great strides, the journey for equal rights for women, minorities, and gays and lesbians still continues.

It is my hope that we are on the slippery slope to decriminalizing recreational use of marijuana and we can’t afford to wait another fifty years.  I want to see our prisons and jails with vacancy signs because they are not loaded down with harmless pot smokers.  Over the course of my profession in law enforcement and the legal field, in addition to experiencing life, I have seen too many young people’s hopes for the future shot down because they were caught smoking a weed.  We have to stop making criminals!  All the arguments against decriminalization of pot smoking is a bunch of “jiggery-pokery.”

Marilyn Langford

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