I have had a number of debates in classes and on Facebook, and seen others conducted online, especially revolving around the gay marriage debates, abortion, and other hot-button issues currently roaming around the countryside. In observing all of these, I have come to several conclusions.
The one which concerns me here is: the majority of people with strong opinions about these subjects are illiterate - in the sense that they have not read or discussed their reading enough to understand basic rhetorical devices, such as analogy.
Let me explain, if you're still here.
A typical example in the debate is a question of status versus action. Typically, thoughtful Christians distinguish between status ("homosexuality") and action ("homosexual acts"). In other words, Christians find nothing sinful in being homosexual - the problem is in the homosexual sexual actions (which Christians find are sinful, as are non-marital heterosexual acts, etc). When this distinction is rejected, one basis being that homosexuals feel deeply that the inclinations are inborn and natural, Christians attempt to analogize, such as by retorting that some people feel deeply attracted to young girls, but that attraction should not permit those people to act upon that inclination.
The response to such an analogy is usually swift, furious, and illiterate. Rather than taking the analogy as a broad comparison attempting to question the validity of a direct link between a desire always being natural and the related act being "good", the opponent invariably launches a statement to the effect of "so, you're saying that homosexuals are as bad as child molesters", or "you're saying that having consensual same-sex relations is the same as raping a child".
Charitably, I assume that such responses are borne of illiteracy - the inability to understand a limited analogy in argument. Less charitably, I often wonder whether such vehement response is a deliberate misconstruction of the statement, where the interlocutor is perfectly aware of the analogy, but is using shame or embarrassment in attempt to shut down the discussion.