Technically, a straw man is “an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.”
And boy do I have an example for you.
Gilles Bernheim, author of a new article against same-sex marriage, is the Chief Rabbi of France. That’s impressive. But just in case don’t you didn’t realize it, he spends the first 716 words of the article explaining how important he and his article are. Eventually, though, he gets to this (it’s long, but relish it):
The argument for marriage for all conceals a split between two existing visions of marriage. According to one worldview, which I share with a great number of people, both believers and nonbelievers, marriage is not only the recognition of a loving attachment. It is the institution that articulates the union between man and woman as part of the succession of generations. It is the establishment of a family—that is, a social cell that creates a set of parent–child relations among its members. Beyond the common life of two individuals, it organizes the life of a community consisting of descendants and ancestors. So understood, marriage is a fundamental act in the construction and the stability of individuals as well as of society.
According to another worldview, marriage is an obsolete and rigid institution, the absurd legacy of a traditional and alienating society. Is it not paradoxical to hear those who share this worldview raising their voices in favor of homosexual marriage? Why do those who reject marriage and prefer free unions demonstrate alongside activists in favor of homosexual marriage?
Whichever worldview you hold…
Yes! Because — obviously! — you must be holding one of these two views!
I can well understand how Bernheim is confused that we are fighting for marriage equality if we think marriage itself obsolete and absurd. It must baffle him that we spend time and money fighting for something he’s so certain we so despise. He must be flabbergasted that I and thousands of others have given up weekends to go knocking on door after door in unfamiliar neighborhoods to have personal chats with total strangers about the vital importance of marriage to our lives.
Why would we do this, when we give not one fig for marriage? It’s a paradox! Incomprehensible! Ridiculudicrous!
It’s every one of those things — to someone closing his eyes to what his opponents actually believe, to who they really are. Rabbi Bernheim characterizes us, tells us his characterization makes no sense…and then never bothers to wonder whether his characterization is true.
The irony is sad: The good rabbi needs to understand that we are not his caricatures; that we are not made of straw; that if he pricks us, we do bleed.