Oh, yes… I totally do… quite frequently in fact. I agree with you, it’s essential. It’s also why I never block anyone. I allow them to come here and make their arguments.
And I don’t even remotely think I can change their minds. It’s not my goal. I wrote about that explicitly here: http://www.chrismaverick.com/wp/2017/01/26/all-facts-are-alternative-some-are-more-alternative-than-others/
The question I am often asked, then is “why do it” and basically, there are two reasons. Both of which I have mentioned a few times, but usually in comments, so they’re harder to link to.
First, I think it’s valuable for helping to set the minds of those who DON’T have as staunch opinions. Here I’m going to tag Liz Winslow because I know she won’t mind. Liz has vastly different politics than I do. She’d be the first to say she’s conservative. BUT she is also open minded. And she said right on the Kaepernick post from the other day (http://www.chrismaverick.com/wp/2017/08/15/the-lie-of-the-anthem-and-the-flag/) and in fact, as the very first comment that she was one of the people who had the gut reaction to be against the anthem kneel protest. But after reading people’s arguments and thinking it through for herself, she changed her mind.
I want to be a part of that. And that happens by letting other people argue against me. If I can have an idiot come in here and spout racist hate…. so long as I have a retort for every point, some random person who I don’t know, who stumbles across my blog for the first time (like Melanie Petronio above) might come across and say “I’d never thought of that… your point really does seem smarter than the idiot’s! Thank you for sharing.” and that’s absolutely a net good thing in my mind.
But second, ignoring that, there’s a much more personal reason I do it. One that I’ve shared before, and I know it’s one of Stephanie Siler’s favorite stories, I expect that she’d agree that me telling her is one of the reasons SHE has tried to be more active.
A couple years ago, on Facebook I came across a cousin of mine making a homophobic post (he wouldn’t see it that way but I did). The post was liked and commented on by DOZENS of members of his church. There were a ton of comments about how right and insightful it was. I read them all, and was outraged. I therefore spent the next several hours arguing against a whole congregation. Basically me arguing for LGBTQ rights against about 50 people, mostly whom I didn’t know, and a couple who were related to me. And it got ugly in some cases. But my only real point was “you’re calling yourselves christians, but what you’re saying is deeply and personally offensive to me, and I’m straight. This is horrible and oppressive to anyone who is queer.”
After i did this for literally about 4 or 5 hours, I got a personal direct message from some 15yo kid, who I don’t know. It said “Hi, you don’t know me, but I go to your cousin’s church. I just want you to know that I’m gay. No one in my family knows. No one in my church knows. And I go there every Sunday and I hear people say what a sinner I am. And today is the first time I have ever seen anyone stand up against them. It is also the first day in a couple of years that I’ve not wanted to kill myself just because of stuff I hear them say. So thank you. Thank you so much.”
If that happens even one time in 1000 internet arguments that I have… even if I never have someone write me to thank me again, then it’s all worth it.