It's intimidating to dive into debates about controversial subjects. There's the possibility of ridicule and/or insult. Not to mention perhaps feeling intellectually inferior.
Thing is, one of the best ways to discuss controversial subjects is simply to stay on topic. Gun owner comment and my response:
You've witnessed this, right? If no one reminds people to stay on topic, things easily disintegrate into insults and accusations. In these instances, it's vital to stay on topic.
The reminder to stay on topic is POWERFUL. Nothing has to escalate. You don't have to match intellect; you don't need sophisticated oratory. Point out when people draw unrelated issues into the debate. Just stay on topic.
The same gun enthusiast tried a different deflection, and I shut it down:
You've witnessed this too, right? "This is just about innocent feelings! It's not about the problem at hand. No need to discuss it" It's an attempt to shut down the conversation. Instead, shut down the attempt, so the conversation that's needed can happen.
Later in the thread, I returned to the above point:
Eventually, the gun owner revealed inner thoughts around reforms:
Another attempt to shut down the conversation. "Change is impossible! There's nothing to do here. So there's nothing to discuss."
This one is quite easy to cut off:
And after that—crickets. But at least no more deflection.
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