A few days ago, I was hanging out in the backyard with my son, Waylon, and his friend, Mike. I was watering the garden; they were molding playdoh into fantastic, multi-colored monsters.
“Mama,” Waylon asked. “Do you like stripes?” Since my sartorial preference for striped shirts is a well-established fact, I didn’t think twice before answering “uh-huh.”
“Do you love stripes?”
“Then why don’t you marry stripes!?” asked Waylon, in the triumphant voice of a little kid who has just mastered a classic playground rejoinder.
“Silly, I’m already married to Mommy.”
“Well, why don’t you divorce Mommy and marry stripes?” he teased.
“I don’t want to marry stripes,” I said good-naturedly.
At this point, Mike decided to enter the conversation.
“Why not? You’re already gay,” he reasoned.
Although the tone of our talk was light and absurd, I have to confess that I was a bit surprised at how easily a six-year-old was able to summon the classic slippery slope argument.
Luckily, my combined experience as a rhetoric teacher and an activist has prepared me to answer this particular logical fallacy.
“Just because I’m gay, that doesn’t mean I think stripes would make a good partner,” I said as I turned off the garden hose. “Stripes can’t make dinner. They can’t rub my feet. They can’t even talk.”
And then, just to make sure I had the last word on the subject, I tickled them both soundly and then sent them inside to wash their hands.