It isn't necessarily a good thing, but false earnestness is almost always bad. It lowers the level of debate, and it's just not good policy. Being honest is better.What makes earnestness an undeniably good thing, in the first place?
Are they that different from their real-life counterparts? I don't feel any less brazen in person than online. I won't follow someone around to harangue him or her, but I won't act like an uninformed opinion is valid if I am having a serious discussion with someone.How are you going to have productive debate when the two sides don't offer each other a baseline level of social consideration, and constantly offend each other in their naked assertions of the other side's folly? These considerations certainly differ given the forum - internet conversations tend to be more brazen than their real-life counterparts, for example.
You're talking about social pressure. I am talking about rules for civilized debate. The same rules apply to everyone in civilized debate, majority or minority.Once again, it's unwise to mistake what one thinks should be the case for what actually is the case. Majorities and minorities do have different rules, and the rules applying to the minorities are either imposed by the majority or form in response to the influence of the majority.
Where is the issue there?Even the process of trying to change the majority's rules are subsumed under its pressure. Take the Civil Rights Movement, for example. Its biggest gains came under non-violent tactics appealing to the majority's sense of equity. When the majority came to its own cultural determination that it no longer approved of the previous structure and rules, those began to change. However, as soon as the movement became more violent and militant, it took almost no time for increased repression based on issues of "law and order".
You can be a douchebag even when you think an opinion is ultimately harmful to others. Fred Phelps honestly believes that homosexuality is ultimately harmful to society. That doesn't mean he isn't a douchebag.Voicing one's opinion in the real world is fine. Voicing one's opinion and being a prick about it is another. No one is forcing you to respect someone else's opinion. It's just that cultural sensibilities indicate that it's not a good thing to be a douchebag about that fact. Once again, that doesn't apply if you think that opinion is ultimately harmful to others.