I must come clean. A part of me really wants to like Amanda Marcotte. She is tough. She stands up for what she believes. She has a nasty streak a mile wide and uses a healthy portion of sarcasm. Sometimes, I even actually believe that she was shocked at the backlash over her being hired to run John Edwards’ campaign blog.
Then I listen to her Reality Cast here on RHReality check and I have to wonder how she comes up with this stuff. It is almost as if she has some “Magic 8 Ball” manufactured by Planned Parenthood that produces fictional positions to excoriate. A deadline is coming so she runs to her computer, violently shakes up the ball, and her straw men start to materialize through the mysterious blue liquid like magic.
If you want to sound smart and make your opponent sound stupid, straw men are the way to go. Who cares what people are actually saying, that involves thinking and reading. Here is how we do it.
1 – Find your opponent
2 – Make up some crazy and stupid position
3 – Attribute this position to your opponent
4 – Point out how obviously stupid and crazy the position is
5 – Look smarterer than them without doing any real work
Based on the profile of your average pro-lifer (oops, anti-choicer) I have to say that I agree with her. Listen to how horrible they are in Amanda’s own words (Ms. Marcotte’s Comments Italicized):
Pro-lifers are “demanding that abortion be banned to protect women, who are, as you know, too stupid to breathe without a man and the government telling us how to do it.”
How about this gem:
“I spend a lot of time on this program documenting the way that the anti-choice movement has embraced this strategy of claiming that they want to protect women. The idea is that it's a way to escape the rather inescapable conclusion that they want to bring women's bodies under state control because they hate us. The argument is something like, ‘We don't hate you. We just think you're inferior to men and need to be controlled for your own good."
Pro-lifers are so ignorant “They seem to really believe that there's a fully formed baby growing in there just moments after a man ejaculates.” (Classy, how could John Edwards pass on that insight?)
BEWARE!!: “Repeat and tell your friends. The so-called "pro-lifers" want to ban your pill, your patch, your diaphram, and eventually even your condoms.”
Such monsters!! I hate the lot of them!!
The only real problem is that I have never met anyone anywhere that fits this description.
I used to know a guy who talked to himself quite a bit. He was a lonely and odd fellow and he actually formed arguments and counter arguments and worked them out without any outside source or conversation. He did very well in these arguments all the way up until the point that he interacted with an actual human being. Then you would see the look of frustration as the real discussion failed to progress in the manner that the imaginary argument had. Straw Men are great because they do not talk back. Beat them, burn them, mock them, and celebrate your phony victory over them. Just do not kid yourself that you have actually accomplished anything by engaging in them.
For the record, I know a great many individuals who identify themselves as pro-life who do not hate women, do not want to steal your birth control, and are very familiar with the developmental processes of unborn human beings. They even adhere to a sophisticated approach to our moral obligations to the unborn based on the nature or substance of human life. This group includes women who are professional lawyers, doctors, teachers, computer programmers, etc. Heck, it includes my wife. All of these people are dramatically different than the farcical characterizations of Ms. Marcotte. But I hope Amanda is smart enough to know that. As long as she can score her rhetorical points she appears happy.
If you listen all the way to the end you will get hear Amanda pat herself on the back while mocking Bill Bennett for something that Bill Kristol said. I can think of no better way for her to close this piece off than being so obviously factually inaccurate.