Apropos a class discussion more than anything else, I want to reveal one of my pet peeves. Basically, it involves arguing against a strawman of some liberal bogeyman (feminists, the "political correct") as a justification for opposing a certain group or claim. For example, my roommate once lamented the manner in which politically correct speech has made discourse ridiculous. I asked him for an example, and he cited calling short people "vertically challenged." I then queried if ever, in his life, he had met someone who had demanded he refer to short people as "vertically challenged."
He hadn't, because virtually no one, including the feared arbiters of politcal correctness, is that insane. And when pressed for examples he had actually had experienced, my roommate couldn't think of one directly. Thus we have a problem--a parade of horribles which exists only in the mind somehow gets transfered as a key policy of a group that advocates nothing of the sort. So we hear about how feminists hate men (which ones?), or Democrats want us to lose in the war on terror (name names?). It's not that there are no people who believe spectacularly stupid things out there--and yes, I have encountered self-declared "feminist" writers who really do hate men. But these people are tiny, tiny fringes--completely marginal to the movement at large, with no institutional support and no relative power. Alternatively, you'll have a single position get ascribed to a whole group that really is having an uproarious internal debate on the subject. For example, I can't tell you how many times I hear feminists get blamed for creating our contemporary raunchy, sex obsessed culture, and yet there are plenty of feminists who have been at the forefront of opposing these developments, including the ultimate feminist bogey(wo)men, Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, who went as far as to call pornography a civil rights violation. Nearly every time I read a conservative "critique" of post-modernism, I am left more convinced than ever that these people don't have the foggiest idea what post-modernism entails--and I suspect some of the more honest ones would admit that they have not read any of the major works. Yet somehow that doesn't stop them from launching into long diatribes about how the post-modern worldview is devilish and evil.
So, moral of the story: When critiquing a group for arguing X, a) make sure that they've actually said it, b) make sure that it's all or most of the group that said it, rather than a point of contention within the group, and c) know exactly what the group is talking about when it says it supports X.
In other words, don't be ignorant. Sheesh.