It is abundantly clear that Ziganto is a bullshitter. By "bullshitter," I mean someone who makes claims merely to achieve a particular effect and has no regard for or concern about the actual truth or falsity of those claims. And I'm not simply name-calling: I have proved that she is a bullshitter in almost a dozen posts here at Your Analytic Analeptic. And I am going to do it again.
But fighting the good fight is difficult, for a number of reasons:
- As will become clear by the end of this post, Ziganto is either ignoring my criticism or she doesn't understand it. She refuses to step up her game or she is incapable of it. I can't be sure which. But she probably thinks she has absolutely nothing to learn from me, since I'm a liberal and I therefore must be completely evil. That's too bad, since responding to criticism can actually make one better.
- It is a lot easier to shovel bullshit than critique it. My job is far more difficult than hers. For example, I try to find sources of information that Ziganto's readers would find acceptable; Ziganto uses whatever sources she wants, many of which are obviously biased and unreliable.
- She produces so much bullshit, she's swimming in it. How can I keep up?
- Her readers probably have no interest in what I have to say, so I can't help them, either. Most of them read her blog because it comforts them to read something that confirms their beliefs, which they don't want to subject to any critical scrutiny anyway.
- Why do conservatives vilify well-educated types like me, including those who, like me, have been trained to evaluate arguments and evidence? Because they do not want their arguments and evidence subjected to critical scrutiny. Their abuse of intellectuals is self-serving: if you're unable to respond to criticisms, vilify those who are criticizing you so that your audience will ignore them.
Anyway, let's get to one of Ziganto's latest posts. This one is again about feminism, and I'll quote it at great length, with her italics removed (emphases mine):
I generally ignore the irrelevant bint known as Miss Gloria Steinem, but Katie Couric interviewed her on Tuesday and thrust her back into the mock-worthy spotlight. Plus, I’m sick fed up with her and “feminists” like her. The emergence of conservative women to the forefront recently has made them particularly unbearable, as they strive to, in every repugnant way possible, diminish said women.  This is just the latest from one of them, Miss Gloria Steinem, who unfortunately resurfaced from whatever Birkenstock-clad, soy latte drinking ivory tower she was hiding in . . .
Firstly, good grief, Katie Couric. What an inane question: “Can you be a conservative feminist?” As if conservatives women are some odd, only woman-like creatures. Miss Steinem’s response? You can’t be a feminist if you oppose legal abortion. Can’t be one. That’s crimethink!  She caps it off with the utterly ridiculous statement that one in three women need an abortion. Now, it’s not the nebulous “choice,” it’s an actual need? Because it never really was about choice, was it? They strove to make abortion the default option.
Well, guess what,  Stepford Steinem Feminists? We don’t care if you don’t consider us a part of your cultish club. You see,  we have minds of our own. And, unlike you, we respect women and don’t think that they are too stupid to handle life on their own, nor do we think that women are perpetual victims who must be saved from things like “inconvenient” motherhood. We are also tired of your bastardizing the term feminist beyond any recognizable meaning. You are antithetical to feminism and can no longer claim that term as your own. We are taking it back. Not to use, as it’s unnecessary;  we know that we have equality already. But, only so that you can no longer use it as a way to promulgate lies in order to further an agenda harmful to all, but particularly to women.
Recently, another Stepford Feminist, Amanda Marcotte, claimed that Sarah Palin – and every other Pro-Life woman – thinks that women are stupid and doesn’t want to offer them a “choice.” She based this on an honest statement that Palin made at a Susan B. Anthony dinner, wherein she openly and honestly stated that the idea of an abortion had fleetingly crossed her mind. She then said this:
"So we went through some things a year ago that now lets me understand a woman’s, a girl’s temptation to maybe try to make it all go away if she has been influenced by society to believe that she’s not strong enough or smart enough or equipped enough or convenienced enough to make the choice to let the child live. I do understand what these women, what these girls go through in that thought process."
To the agenda tunnel-visioned like Marcotte, that meant that Palin thinks women are dum-dums and she then asserted this:
"I’ve seen everything from mild cases of morning sickness to months confined to bed in service of bringing a baby into the world, and these kinds of sacrifices should be freely chosen out of love instead of foisted on the unwilling. To suggest that all women are equipped to make these sacrifices at any point in time is to insult those who take on the burden because they want to, not because they have to."
 Oooh, the terrible sacrifice of morning sickness. Yeah, avoiding that is way more important than, you know, a life.
What’s insulting is that Marcotte and Steinem and other Stepford Feminists believe that women are incapable of being responsible for their own actions. That if they have the simple human emotions like fear of the unknown or self-doubt, then they should be relieved of that icky burden immediately because surely they can’t handle it. Motherhood is a punishment and a burden that only certain women can be expected to handle. Some aren’t “equipped” to do so, you see.
 They are also the ones who want to hide information from women, for fear that women are too stupid to handle the truth; they don’t even want women to see ultrasounds before aborting their children. They have so little respect for women, that  they deny the very existence of post-abortion syndrome. To them, it’s inconceivable that any woman would actually feel remorse or be racked with guilt, her entire life, after having an abortion. She got rid of that pesky, burdensome, “just a clump of cells”, inconvenience! If she doesn’t feel joyful relief, she can’t be a “real” feminist-y woman!I now comment on each of the numbered passages so we can see where Ziganto goes wrong. Each numbered comment below corresponds to a numbered passage above. I know, Ziganto probably has no interest in any of this, but for those of you who do, allow me to bolster your intellectual defenses. And by the way, nothing I'm about to say presupposes the falsity of Ziganto's pro-life position. Nothing. Those of you who are pro-life can also agree with the correctness of my criticisms.
- Note how Ziganto subjects Steinem to abuse. She says that Steinem hides in some "Birkenstock-clad, soy latte drinking ivory tower," where they might have taught Ziganto to write better sentences. (How many soy lattes can an ivory tower drink?) Why would she do that? Well, her readers are likely to agree with the characterization, but they are also more likely to disregard what Steinem has to say if she is characterized in that manner. Ziganto is simply following the play book conservatives have been using since Nixon first used it in the '60's. Ziganto's move here is a fallacious ad hominem.
- From Steinem's claim that some women need abortions, Ziganto infers that Steinem believes that abortion isn't about choice but should rather be the default option. This is a bit vague, but Ziganto clearly means to imply that Steinem thinks that women ought to be forced to have abortions. Now, perhaps some women believe that, and perhaps even Steinem believes that. But Ziganto's inference is a obviously a pile of shit. From the fact that someone needs something, it doesn't follow that they ought to be forced to choose that thing. I think Ziganto needs further education, but I also believe that that is her choice to make, and no one else's. Her readers aren't likely to notice Ziganto's sleazy move: they, like Ziganto, probably believe that Steinem is evil, so they won't cause trouble. But surely Steinem meant to say that some women ought not to complete their pregnancies because it is worse for them to do so, all things considered, than abort. You might disagree with that, but that doesn't sound evil. More on the issue of inconvenience later.
- Ziganto loves to use words in unexpected and perhaps even incompetent ways. This whole business about taking the word "feminism" back is an example. She claims that the people who call themselves feminists aren't actually feminists, and that people like Ziganto, i.e., people who are opposed to everything feminists traditionally stand for, are the real feminists. Is that clever, or merely idiotic? Anyway, she does it here again. The term "Stepford wife" was taken from a 1972 novel and was used to refer to women who were unusually submissive to their husbands, i.e., just the sort of thing a feminist would caution against. So applying the term "Stepford" to feminists is unexpected. She wants you to believe that feminists are mindless, I suppose. This dovetails with the conservative idea that liberals are mindless idiots (unlike conservatives, who have "minds of [their] own"). Her readers won't object, but Ziganto is obviously bullshitting at this point. There are stupid feminists, but there are some highly intelligent feminists also.
- Here, Ziganto claims that, unlike feminists, conservatives "respect women and don’t think that they are too stupid to handle life on their own, nor do we think that women are perpetual victims who must be saved from things like 'inconvenient' motherhood." It isn't at all clear that conservatives respect women, and I'll return to that point shortly. But here again she is simply mischaracterizing feminism. Feminism is about empowering women and achieving social, economic, political, and legal equality with men. Ziganto implies that feminists want to infantilize women and make their decisions for them. That is the very opposite of feminism. Ziganto will pound her little fists on the table and insist that she's right about this, but she is simply wrong. Either she doesn't know what the fuck she's talking about, or she does know but doesn't care because she is shoveling the bullshit. In either case, trusting in what she has to say about this is foolish. (Ziganto loves to write silly little screeds about the president's alleged incompetence, by the way, but she may be projecting.)
- Ziganto cannot know that women have equality already, because one can know only what is true, and it just ain't true that women have equality already. According to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report of 2007, the United States ranked 31st in gender equality; that result indicates the existence of significant gender inequality. I've got a scholarly report to back up my assertion: Ziganto has nothing. Except bullshit.
- Here, Ziganto mischaracterizes pro-choice arguments and therefore commits a straw man fallacy. Marcotte is right: the inconvenience of completing a pregnancy can be much more serious than enduring morning sickness. Ziganto appears to have a daughter; would she honestly claim that her daughter would at 12 be just as psychologically equipped to complete a pregnancy as Sarah Palin was to bring her running mate Trig into the world? And if so, wouldn't that indicate that Ziganto is out of her fucking mind? Either that, or again merely bullshitting. The costs of bringing a new being into the world are considerable, and Ziganto's continued attempts to downplay the sacrifices of women everywhere to complete their pregnancies merely to attack feminists is appalling. She is either out of touch with reality, or she is willing to ignore the sacrifices of real women everywhere who are "raising their families and learning through actual living," merely to score points against feminists and pro-choicers. Ziganto claims to know "the unwashed masses" a lot better feminists do, and yet Ziganto is the first to distort their experiences for her own selfish political purposes. What a bitch.
- Here, Ziganto claims that feminists "want to hide information from women, for fear that women are too stupid to handle the truth." Her evidence for this claim is that feminists "don’t even want women to see ultrasounds before aborting their children." There are two problems here. First, as usual, Ziganto's argument is a pile of shit. Ziganto offers no evidence for the claim that feminists think that women are "too stupid to handle the truth." She simply made it up. Why? Because feminists = liberals = members of the intellectual elite = people who allegedly have contempt for voters to whom the Republican Party panders at election time. Ziganto borrows from the same old Republican play book once again. In addition, feminist opposition to recent anti-abortion law is not motivated by a desire to keep information out of the hands of women; rather, it is motivated by a desire to keep government out of the doctor-patient relationship, as I have previously shown. Second, Ziganto's argument is hypocritical. It is people like Ziganto herself who do not trust women to make their own decisions and seek to control the information available to them. Check out this article by Dahlia Lithwick of Slate. According to Lithwick, "[W]hile the GOP position on abortion doesn't treat teenagers as grownups, it does show a growing inclination to treat grownup women as little girls. As important as the decision to end a pregnancy is, the matter of who gets to decide may be even more important. And that decision is increasingly being taken out of the hands of women and put into the hands of strangers." Go ahead, read the whole thing, if you have the guts.
- Here, Ziganto claims that feminists "deny the very existence of post-abortion syndrome. To them, it’s inconceivable that any woman would actually feel remorse or be racked with guilt, her entire life, after having an abortion." This is completely inaccurate. To deny the existence of post-abortion syndrome is to deny that women who have abortions are at significant risk of mental problems as a result of aborting. As I have previously argued, there is no scientific evidence that post-abortion syndrome, so defined, exists. I'm with the scientists on this one, not some hysterical bullshitting conservative blogger. But even if it doesn't exist, it doesn't follow that no one feels guilty about having an abortion. Surely many women experience post-abortion feelings of guilt. But that alone doesn't establish that the syndrome, so defined, exists. Notice what the evidence for the existence of the syndrome is: those who believe it exists claim that they know people who have experienced feelings of guilt after abortion. This is the fallacy of anecdotal evidence. I could just as easily argue that post-abortion syndrome does not exist because I actually know women who have had abortions and experienced no guilt feelings as a result. This is inconceivable to people like Ziganto, of course, since she and others like her are pro-life. But why would someone who is pro-choice feel guilty about having an abortion? Pro-lifers can only respond by insisting on the existence of a syndrome that does not in fact exist. The moral of this story is this: if you are pro-life, don't have an abortion; other than that, mind your own fucking business.