After watching Phil Plait's speech from TAM, I've been thinking about the whole concept of being friendly to antagonists a whole lot more. I rewound my brain to remember whether people insulting my beliefs had anything to do with my deconversion. It may have had some small effect on my pride, but to be quite honest, there was probably only one single person who impacted my deconversion more than all the others combined. I don't even know his name, but we used to debate on Myspace group forums about religion, evolution, science and everything in between. Even though I said a lot of things which I would now regard as being rather moronic, he seemed to keep his cool amazingly, while I was the one going off the rails, not with insults but with incoherent ranting, and copy/pasting things I had seen on apologetics websites.
One time I sent him a private message to convince him to read an apologetics book, which I mentioned in my deconversion post over a year ago, 'I don't have enough faith to be an atheist'. He in turn recommended a book to me, 'The Age of Reason' by Thomas Paine. I highly doubt that he ever read the book I recommended to him, and I hope he doesn't, because when I re-examined the book years later it wasn't all I thought it had been.
Some 4 years after he recommended that I read Thomas Paine, I bought a copy of the book, read it and was completely intrigued the entire way though. I had never looked at the bible that way before. Even though Paine was fervently arguing for the Deistic position, by the time I had finished reading The Age of Reason, I was agnostic about whether god existed or not. At that point I no longer considered myself a Christian, but still had a desire to believe in god.
I'm certainly not advocating the complete elimination of offensive words, because a well-placed insult can add a great dramatic flair to a passionate argument, especially when it comes to things like Chiropractors manipulating the spines of infants and young children I can't help but throw wild insults, that shit makes me sick!