I have two straw men that I would really like to send to the straw man graveyard. I'm sure that like Freddie and Jason they'll both be back from the grave, but it would be nice to be rid of them for awhile. Both have to do with the interpretation of Scripture.
Protestants and Sola Scriptura
I have heard plenty of times that Protestants, in teaching Sola Scriptura, despise church tradition. I have met very few Protestants who despise church tradition; in my experience these are the exception to the rule.
It was fellow-Protestants who taught me to read the church fathers and built up my knowledge of patristics. Fellow-Protestants pointed me towards Athanasius and Irenaeus. Fellow-Protestants taught me to admire the heroes of the faith who had gone before. It was in Protestant churches that I learned of Ignatius and Polycarp, Cyril and Methodius, and of course Augustine. Protestants gave me copies of Thomas Merton and Vladimir Lossky.
The idea that Protestants as a whole have no respect for the church as a whole is really outlandish. Granted there are fringe groups that anyone can find who disrespect tradition; but what justice is there in finding someone who is not representative and using them as a representative of the whole? The original teaching of Sola Scriptura is that when a church teacher -- no matter how respected -- contradicts the Scripture, that such a dispute will be resolved in favor of Scripture. If Christ and the apostles teach something, it should not be overthrown; if another teaching is presented later than does not trace back to Christ and the apostles, that teaching's prominence can never reach the heights of the teachings that came directly from Christ. That is the point of Sola Scriptura: not that only Scripture be read, but that only Scripture is on that level. Many a church father's small or subtle errors have, over the centuries, shown what may happen as others compound an error that once was small. The church has Scripture to help it correct the errors of the theologians by a return to the source, Christ, and the apostles who taught us of him.
Conservatives and Wooden Readings of Scripture
I have heard a good few people say that conservative Christians -- "fundamentalists" that is, which is largely just a term of insult these days -- cannot possibly understand Scripture, or cannot really interpret Scripture according to such a plain reading as is claimed. I've heard that conservative Christians are obliged to believe that God has a mouth because there are places where it says, "God spoke" or "God said". I've heard that conservative Christians simply do not have either the mental ability or the interpretive framework to handle mere figures of speech. If all that were true, it's difficult to imagine how conservatives manage to watch a TV show or read a book, really, with such limited verbal skills as these outspoken opponents charge. In theory, conservatives shouldn't even understand children's books, shouldn't see why the children's book character Amelia Bedelia is funny when she dusts a house by putting more dust on everything.
The main pieces of evidence I've seen presented for the inexcusably wooden Scripture readings of conservatives are that conservative Christians are fairly likely to be either young earth or old earth creationists (with or without reference to the various ideas in the Intelligent Design movement) and that conservative Christians are fairly likely to believe homosexuality is immoral from a Christian moral framework. Interestingly, large numbers of Christians through many ages past also held similar opinions, and it didn't seem to have interfered with their ability to interpret Scripture or understand figures of speech. I think the whole charge that conservatives' interpretation cannot handle figures of speech is unjust; it's simply not an issue for anyone who can read the Sunday paper and understand it. Neither is the fact that the Sunday paper contains figures of speech seen as a reason why it cannot be read plainly.