But I'm wondering that if the toxicity is 'merely' words, then we still have the choice of how we respond. And as you imply, we may instinctively react and feel offended, but by choice we do not have to remain in that state of mind. I agree.
Given the stratospheric rise in toxic responses infiltrating any attempt at real debate (mainly on the internet, which is mainly words/verbal), we need a strategy. This might be to switch off and not engage at all. Or if choosing to engage, be prepared to look in the mirror. If "A" is not offensive, then people will find something else to be offended about. Maybe it boils down to personal awareness and 'processing' having one's buttons pushed - and then responding from a 'neutral' space.
I agree, Josh. And, in an ideal world this would be ideal. And for the most part here on DU, more than many members, such as yourself, are capable of having an intelligent discussion on whatever topic they choose to engage in a non-toxic manner. However, we live in a world where many deal with mental issues and aren't capable ( whether of their own volition or lack of resources such as counseling, medication, etc. ) of processing through a neutral filter. They become tunnel-visioned, filled with resentment, bitterness, or flat out hatred and judgement for anyone who doesn't think as they do.
And then there are those who like to stir the pot out and fan the flames ( particularly of misperception ) for the drama it creates. They are not likely going to change and it certainly isn't our job to change them.
Sometimes all we can do is establish our own emotional boundaries and ignore who we feel are toxic members for the sake of peace ( having recognized their repetitive antics ), and focus on intelligent discussion with intelligent, non-toxic members.
Their life, after all, is their own, as are their choices. That does not mean, however, we are forced to be a part of it regardless of their attempts to insert themselves into our lives.
Everything is here to serve us. Everything, and one we meet.