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Marry Non-Humans? Funny TV Sound-bite Flattens Slippery Slope

Date: Jul 01, 2010
Word Count: 2000 words
Cross-Reference: slippery slope, Gretchen Carlson, John Stossel

On the "Stossel" show on FOX Business Network, a segment discussing the prohibition of polygamy ended with everyone laughing from an unexpected new sound-bite - a humorous response which may now be repeated to flatten the "marrying non-humans" slippery slope argument.

============= OUTLINE ============== 
5. "I'M A MOM NOW, OK?" 
When defending big government marriage control, one-man/one-woman proponents routinely default to a "slippery slope" argument, one way or another. To oppose same sex marriage, such marriage controllers assert that it is a slippery slope to polygamy. To oppose polygamous marriage, such marriage controllers assert that it is a slippery slope to "marrying non-humans." 
To fully flatten the first of those two slippery slope assertions, National Polygamy Advocate, Mark Henkel, has repeatedly stated his well-established sound-bite in numerous media interviews throughout the years. Namely, "Anti-polygamy is the real slippery slope that led to same sex marriage." If government had never become involved in re-defining marriage to exclude consenting-adult polygamy, then government later re-defining marriage to include same sex marriage would never have been possible. 
On March 4, 2010, Henkel created yet another sound-bite on television which now also flattens the second slippery slope assertion. The new sound-bite was first created on John Stossel's show, "Stossel," on FOX Business Network. For a segment on government prohibition of polygamy, Stossel had invited two professional guests sitting together with him on-stage, Mark Henkel and Gretchen Carlson. 
Gretchen Carlson co-hosts a separate talk show on FOX News, called, "FOX & Friends." The year before, on May 11, 2009, Carlson had been a guest on Bill O'Reilly's FOX News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," in a segment dealing with "triads" and polyamory. Following her guest appearance on O'Reilly's show, Carlson perpetuated the same topic about "triads" on her own talk show the next day. Neither show was actually about marriage-committed polygamy. O'Reilly intentionally mis-portrayed polyamory and "triads" as if those less-committed relationships are the same things as committed polygamous marriage. Carlson's polyamorous guest was a married woman who explained how she only wanted the other woman in her "triad" to remain as a girlfriend instead of as a wife. As Carlson consistently presented herself as a "concerned" everyday-mom who is "worried" about society, she immediately defaulted to the slippery slope argument. The discussion even descended to the absurdity of "marrying turtles." 
Gretchen Carlson is a very professional and friendly woman who has indeed built her image on FOX News as being the "concerned everyday-mom" - a genuinely nice woman with whom everyday-mothers around the country (sometimes stereotyped as "soccer moms") could "easily" relate. Projecting this persona, Carlson routinely plays the overly simplistic "I'm a mom!" card in political discussions. 
On December 8, 2009, comedian John Stewart, on his show, "The Daily Report," humorously "called her out" regarding her projected persona. The segment was called, "Gretchen Carlson Dumbs Down." The report showed three separate examples on "FOX & Friends" when Carlson acted flustered, needing to have a term defined, such as "ignoramus," "double-dip recession," and "czar." With dramatic effect of raising her hands to the sides of her head like a "confused mom" and of widening her eyeballs as "a doe in the headlights," she would explain how she solved her confusion. "So I googled it," Carlson would say as she would then read the "googled" definition. 
Stewart humorously noted how these very simple terms seem to "confuse the ol' girl." He chuckled that it didn't seem plausible that Carlson would need to "google" such easily known terms - unless, of course, she was intentionally dumbing herself down. Hence, that point raised the question about Gretchen Carlson's actual background. With more comedic delivery, Stewart smilingly teased, "So I 'googled' Gretchen Carlson. And guess what came up? She was valedictorian of her high school, and went to Stanford, and graduated with honors, and spent time studying abroad at Oxford. Yeah, not the Mississippi Oxford - the Europe one! Not to mention she won the Miss America Crown in 1989 by doing this." The video then cut to a young Gretchen Carlson very impressively playing a quite difficult classical violin arrangement.  
Clearly, Gretchen Carlson is no intellectual slouch, having a very elite education and being an accomplished classical violinist. Certainly, any woman with such an obviously high level of intelligence and accomplishment would not need to "google" such easily known terms. 
So, when National Polygamy Advocate, Mark Henkel, appeared on the "Stossel" show on March 4, 2010, he was seated next to this obviously intellectual woman who instead portrays herself as an "easily confused everyday-mom" persona. 
And indeed, Gretchen Carlson portrayed that "confusion" quite well on the "Stossel" show. 
From the very beginning of the segment, Gretchen Carlson very dramatically and emotionally declared her heart-felt feelings that, "A marriage - to me - is a union of two people." 
Mark Henkel happily acknowledged her right to her opinion as such a right being a part of the beauty of America. Pre-empting any "re-defining marriage slippery slope" in advance, Henkel then declared, "To impose that belief, however, and re-define the definition of marriage that, anthropologically and biblically, has always included polygamy, is actually the first form of re-definition to use big government to re-define marriage: for one-man/one-woman." 
John Stossel asked, "But how is big government playing a role here?" Henkel answered, "Because it is licensing, defining, and controlling the definition of marriage, as opposed to letting what freely consenting adults choose to contract with each other." 
Seemingly not realizing that Henkel had thereby just answered what she was then about to argue after him, Carlson still went ahead and made her slippery slope argument: "See, that's my concern about government becoming involved in this, and re-defining the term of what marriage is, because, as I said on the O'Reilly Factor, it's a slippery slope to me. So then what is next, after that, that we call marriage?"  
Continuing that thought without interruption, Carlson immediately intensified her persona. Using expressively emotional-sounding "mom-voice" and mannerisms for emphatic effect, Gretchen Carlson concluded, "And that will come into play in society, when I try and teach my children. It's just become so confusing!" 
5. "I'M A MOM NOW, OK?" 
Sincerely trying to help her out of her seeming "confusion," Mark Henkel immediately re-iterated his original point with greater clarity. Using one of his past renowned sound-bites, Henkel responded, "But the truth is, anti-polygamy is the real slippery slope that led to same-sex marriage. If government wasn't involved re-defining marriage to exclude polygamy, in the first place, and there wasn't the licensing, defining, and controlling of marriage by big government, anyway, then the homosexuals pursuing same sex marriage wouldn't even be pursuing any legal construct - because it wouldn't matter what consenting adults contract with each other." 
Carlson's persona continued even more emphatically into the next question, wherein John Stossel turned to Henkel and said, "You make an interesting point about Hugh Hefner."  
Henkel replied with another one of his trademark sound-bites, "Yes, well absolutely. Here we are in a society where we can have a show - Hugh Hefner has a show with 3 live-in girlfriends, and that's all super-buzz in Hollywood and everybody 'loves it!' But if he was to marry them, suddenly he's a criminal. That's insane!" 
Gretchen Carlson then jumped in to say that she does not "love" that show. With all dramatic effect, and definitely pulling out the "mom-card," Carlson continued, "Whether or not they're married, I don't want my kids watching that show." Henkel interjected that he agreed. Not missing a beat, though, Carlson continued her mama-drama, "That's what I care about. I'm a mom now, ok? So, I care about what society my kids are going to grow up in." Spreading her eyes fully wide open and straightening up on the edge of her seat for the most dramatic impact yet, Carlson actually shouted: "They're six and five now!" 
The discussion throughout the segment continued to be very positive and friendly between Henkel and Carlson. When he was explaining how some States' laws actually make free speech a crime for a married man to simply call an unlicensed girlfriend as a "wife," Gretchen Carlson was so comfortable with Mark Henkel that she even reached down, grabbed his left hand, and pulled it up to inspect it for a wedding ring. Both of them smiled about the good humor of it and the good-natured comfort between them. 
Near the end of the segment, John Stossel asked two anonymous women in the audience about their polygamous family. One of the women very eloquently explained that they agreed with Henkel, that they were not looking for government to define anyone's marriages or give them special tax benefits. 
Stossel then gave the floor to Gretchen Carlson to share her final thoughts. 
Having no other point to make, Carlson simply repeated her original slippery slope argument - even though it had been repeatedly answered throughout the segment. 
Using more dramatic delivery, Carlson said, "I just say that that's fine if you want to live that lifestyle. But I worry that what you're saying, that most of the polygamists don't agree with you, that they would want the tax benefits, and that the rest of us in society would end up paying for this, and what else? What else would follow this down the road? Five people living together? People marrying not-even people? I know that sounds ridiculous but..." 
Not willing to let the segment end that way, John Stossel jumped right in quickly and said, "No, no, we're talking about consenting adults here, because to animals, we're not...." 
Interrupting him, Carlson looked into the camera, widened her eyeballs yet again for the maximum effect, lifted up her hand near the side of her head, and shouted her confusion, "I, I, I don't know!" 
Mark Henkel instantly recognized the perfect comedic timing here. Not only would his forthcoming response create a new sound-bite, but it would also create a new teasing-approach for anyone to respond to any other topic in general when someone seems confused. Mark Henkel "pulled a 'Gretchen Carlson'" - as it can now be called. 
In doing so, Henkel created his new sound-bite (right then, on-the-fly), completely flattening the "marrying non-humans" slippery slope argument in a hilarious way. By teasing her in such a friendly yet persuasive way, Henkel helped the segment come to a positive end with everyone laughing. 
Even the very friendly Gretchen Carlson was laughing afterward too. Indeed, after she heard him say it, she smilingly looked right at Henkel. She appeared to "get" the deeper background humor of his new sound-bite and could not help but laugh, too! 
Immediately as Carlson had shouted her final slippery slope confusion, "I, I, I don't know," Mark Henkel lifted each of his open-hands up to the sides of his forehead, teasingly mimicking Carlson's mannerisms of a "confused everyday-mom." Widening his eyeballs as a "doe in the headlights," and then swaying each hand outward, Mark Henkel delivered his new sound-bite with perfect comedic timing. 
"Do we have to 'google' the definition of 'consenting adults?'" Making everyone laugh, Henkel's funny sound-bite flattened the slippery slope. 

Regardless of her original anti-polygamy perspective, Gretchen Carlson was a truly friendly and nice woman - with an obviously good sense of humor. She also might even have learned from the experience! The segment was taped on February 25, 2010, to air the following week. In that same morning of the March 4th airdate, John Stossel was a guest on Gretchen Carlson's show, "FOX & Friends." Plugging the pending "Stossel" show, John Stossel said to Carlson, "You will be on too, as the special guest, playing the role of the bad authoritarian who wants to punish people." Gretchen Carlson beamed a huge smile, gave a hearty laugh, slapped her knee, and replied, "No, not at all! I just happen to say that I didn't agree with polygamy." "Only disagreeing" is much better than criminalizing! Hence, one week after taping the segment, Gretchen Carlson appeared to be coming out of her slippery slope "confusion"– exposing her actual intelligence, indeed.


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[Reviewed for publication - Review Board.]

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