"Don't think of your goal as picking a fight with people who enrage you. Instead, try swaying the opinion of a reasonable person who sees the merits of both sides."
I think Dr. Jerz hit the nail right on the head with this one. It always irks me when I see editorials that are written like this, because they do absolutely nothing for either side of an issue. If you write in a combative way, you're bound to make people who disagree with you angry; therefore, the people who agree with you will still have the same opinion, and the people who don't will be even more vehemently opposed to what you believe. I don't understand what the point of preaching to the converted is in this kind of situation. There are some times where it can be useful for certain groups to reaffirm their beliefs by clearly articulating them, but in widely read newspapers it seems like the ultimate goal is to reach out to people who don't already agree with you. If you never consider opposing points of view, all you do is create more friction where you ought to be reducing it. I think some people do like to make their readers angry, mainly for publicity reasons. Ann Coulter is a writer who immediately comes to mind when I think of editorialists who make blunt statements seemingly just to get attention. You can't really publish a book called Godless: The Church of Liberalism and expect people who identify themselves as liberal to read the book with an open mind. Certainly, liberal people may read that book, but usually not because they want to engage in an intelligent dialogue with people they disagree with, but just because the title makes them angry. Stirring people up just for the purpose of making your column more widely read doesn't seem to be the noblest aspiration. Like all news writing, I think it's important to remember that the writing shouldn't be about the writer, but about the subject being covered. So, even though you're presenting your opinion, you still need to maintain some degree of objectivity and not make your column an irrational rant--save it for the blogs!