Here’s how it works.
- You write or say something that you know is controversial. In fact you know that others will find what you say deeply hurtful and offensive. You personalise it as much as possible making sure that you are not just disagreeing with other people on a specific point but that the disagreement represents a judgement on their whole character. Usually the point is that anyone who disagrees with you is unloving, intolerant, bigoted etc. However, you also claim to be wanting to start a conversation/discussion. Your hope is to persuade other people
- You wait for people to respond. Anyone who dares to disagree with you whether or not they are civil, gentle, courteous is denounced as a “troll” -one of the cardinal sins in the world of social media. By the way, trolling is an irregular verb “I engage in passionate debate and conversation, you argue, he trolls.
We’ve seen this recently in three contexts. First of all, we saw how MPS who proposed radical changes tot he abortion laws were unwilling to respond to challenges or questions. AS soon as Vicky Beeching’s book Undivided was published the same happened again. This is alos the tactic that Steve Chalke’s supporters tend to use.
Sadly, there are people who do intimidate and threaten. They use any means to hurl abuse whether that’s standing outside someone’s door and shouting insults, posting excrement through letter boxes or tweeting and messaging the same type of abuse online. However, intentionally including anyone who dares to disagree under the same umbrella is a means of silencing disagreement. It’s a method of control.
Debate should happen in the context of love, charity and graciousness but it should not be silenced.