Slippery Slopes and Puppies

Charles Kruse, President of the Missouri Farm Bureau, was recently interviewed by the New York Times about Missouri's upcoming Referendum Vote (Prop. B) outlawing overcrowded dog breeding operations and  setting living standards for dogs owned by breeders (adequate shelter, rest time between litters, access to outdoors, not living in excrement, and so on).  In effect, the proposed law outlaws puppy mills, and the Humane Society of Missouri is behind the proposition. Here's what Kruse had to say:

This is just a first step…. It’s pretty clear their ultimate desire is to eliminate the livestock industry in the United States.

Wuh?  This is about dogs.  They don't eat those in Missouri, do they?  (I went to WUSTL for undergrad, and I don't remember them serving dog anywhere in St.L., but that was the city, and all.) But seriously, folks, how does making it illegal to make a dog have litter after litter in squalid conditions with no time to regain her heath or even be healthy at all make it so that there's no livestock industry?  Even if this were the Humane Society's endgame, what's wrong with treating dogs in ways that aren't utterly horrible?

You know that Kruse, on the Farm Bureau website, has an answer to that question:

“Furthermore, if Proposition B passes, these radical animal rights organizations and individuals won’t stop there.  As experienced in other states, they will work to further regulate Missouri farmers, driving them out of business as well and driving up food costs,” said Kruse.

Oh, I see.  It's not that this sets a precedent, it's that because the Humane Society promotes vegetarianism, a win for them about treating dogs decently is a blow to anyone raising chickens or cows for slaughter.  They won't stop there.  But what if there is a perfectly legitimate position, and there are other reasons to oppose where they want to go from there?  What about that? 

There's an old distinction to make between slippery slopes and bumpy staircases.  It seems that this is more bumpy than slippery.  Moreover, what's Kruse got against dogs? 

3 thoughts on “Slippery Slopes and Puppies”

  1. I think this guy is some kind of logic prof plant–no one could make a slippery slope that textbook without doing it on purpose.

  2. What's incredible about this stuff is that it's all being fed to people through Humanewatch. They make about four arguments on behalf of their agribusiness overlords.
    1. The leadership of HSUS (Pacelle et al.) are corrupt or radicals. (ad hominem)
    2. The goals of HSUS is abolition of pet ownership and meat eating. (slippery slope, or an argument that claims that all policies are means to some sinister end)
    3. HSUS collects millions of dollars and doesn't spend on animals in animal shelters. (just silly missing the point I guess–The NRA doesn't spend all of their money buying guns for people!).
    4. Some industry hack contradicts any of their claims about husbandry or animal welfare (e.g., the chickens are safer stuffed into boxes where they can't move). (Well, at least this is an argument).
    It's a well-oiled fallacious attack machine. You have to give it to those cynical hacks, they know how to get this crap out there. We all know how hard it can be to make up fallacies for exams and problem sets. These guys are geniuses at it.


  3. I think Colin's nailed the point that the argument can't work without opening with an ad hominem:  (i) these people are crazed vegetarians, (ii) you can't give crazy people an inch, (iii) oppose them wherever they have things to say, else they'll get momentum and make you eat your vegetables. 
    These arguments work only so long as (a) the target audience really hates vegetarians, and (b) is worried about their profit margin in selling the flesh of animals.  People without those background inclinations see right through the argument, but people who see 'vegetarian' as a bad word fall for it like twelve-year-olds for anything from Disney.

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