Trolls can/should be ignored. Self-refuting rants. A reader influenced by trolls is probably hopeless anyway.
If someone states their disagreement, one can probably just let it stand, or maybe just acknowledge the disagreement. Mostly their reasons will be standard ones, and the standard discussion doesn’t have to be repeated.
Occasionally someone will present an interesting or novel argument (in the logic sense of the term — reasons) or have an interesting or novel response to one’s original interesting or novel argument (assuming one didn’t just express a stand). Then the discussion might be fruitfully carried on.
There’s also a practical aspect: Since it’s so hard to ID and follow an entire thread on medium.com, especially if the thread has started forking, medium.com might not be the best locus for extended give-and-take conversations.
I’m with you, by the way, on the free speech thing. Point made. Play ball. Whether it was the most appropriate or effective way to make the point need not be publicly debated. There are thousands of living rooms and sports bars where the arguments on both sides can be heard.