I don't suppose Twitter is a good indicator of the thinking of a cross-section of Sinn Fein voters - and I hope it isn't. First, you have to discount the trolls who can't be assumed to actually believe what they say. There may be many different reasons for anonymity on social media, but cowardice and hypocrisy have to be counted among them.
Still, one strong impression from a recent debate is that many republicans are incapable of conceding any argument to unionism. The Irish Times had published an article by Paddy Roche and Brian Barton, setting out a case for the unionist perspective, citing their conviction that their British identity is authentic and arguing that the discrimination against Catholics in the old Stormont regime wasn't as bad as made out.
There is a simple way of assessing how bad the modern Sinn Feiner has to believe things were here during unionist rule. It has to have been so bad that a murderous response was warranted.
If it wasn't so bad that any reasonable person would want to go out and shoot a policeman, or bomb a pub, in protest, or kill some farmers, then the wrong lies with the bombers and killers, not with the ideology of unionism and its expression through Stormont.
So, Sinn Fein, while remaining determined to protect a commitment to the legitimacy of the IRA campaign, can never concede that unionism, at least in the past, was anything other than a dark evil force in the land.
No one that I saw answered the Irish Times article with any generosity. No one said anything like, "You have a point there", or "Right enough, I never thought of that."
Nobody acknowledged that Stormont getting British welfare benefits for everybody, or the Catholic Church withdrawing from the education system complicated the simple picture of an oppressive majority attempting to crush a vulnerable minority.
Because it is a fundamental to republicans that the old Stormont was evil and had to be overthrown.
It is rarely considered that many of the injustices of discrimination were resolved before the IRA campaign and that the core demand boiled down, in the end, to something that was almost unthinkable at the start, to appointing members of the Opposition to the Cabinet; or power-sharing, as we call it now. And, though unprecedented in British or Irish experience, this demand was conceded in 1973. Today, Sinn Fein seems unable to reconcile itself to its own compromise, by which it accepted power-sharing and resolved to govern this place until a majority wants a united Ireland.
Recent behaviour suggests that it would rather revive the old grievances. So, in recent weeks, we have had outrage against the police and the Electoral Office, all backed up by Twitter-chucks howling about sectarianism and oppression.
The trigger for the derision flung at the police was the management of a gathering on the lower Ormeau Road in commemoration of the victims of the 1992 massacre by loyalists at Sean Graham's bookmakers.
Two cops approached the group to advise them on Covid regulations and were sworn at, jostled and abused.
There are details from body cameras which, decided the Chief Constable, his men behaved badly. But so, also, did many in the crowd.
A lawyer for one of them even went so far as to say the police had had no right to be there. What can he possibly have meant by that? What many on Twitter understood was that the evil RUC had returned to harass the nationalist people.
Since then, Sinn Fein has organised a campaign against the refreshing of the electoral register, claiming that this is a strategy to strip republicans of their votes.
This is bizarre. These are political positions that you might expect of the naive and ill-informed, the nonsense that someone might come out with when drunk. They are not political analyses that would bear up to any refutation. And they overlook one of the plain and simple realities of Northern Ireland today, which is that Catholics/nationalists are not anymore a vulnerable minority that a dark unionist tradition has power to oppress.
Even if you accept the simplistic view that the trouble in the past was a product of the domination of a Catholic minority by a Protestant majority, to the extent that murder was a reasonable and legitimate response (which, of course, I don't), you still have to accept that those days are over, that demography alone has changed the context.
Maybe that is a problem for republicans, because if demography was going to deliver equality, anyway, what need was there for murder?
And coming out with arguments against the state that might have been lifted from a Cyclostyled People's Democracy news sheet from 1970, just makes Sinn Fein and its supporters look amateurish.
So, what's going on? Is there some weakness in the party's policy department? Or is the party itself simply unable to move out of an oppositional type of politics?
Is it so determined to preserve a good name for the Provisional IRA that it cannot only not moderate its perspective on the past, but that it cannot even concede that things have changed?
Can it not grow up alongside the wider society it inhabits? At present it looks like a party that enjoys irritation.
Two years ago, it was prepared to block the restoration of Stormont over a demand for an Irish Language Act. Now, there is no mention of this.
It's as if the whole issue was raised simply to prolong deadlock and, now that we're past that moment, it can be forgotten.
Not that I care very much whether there is an Irish Language Act or not, but a party that was so adamant that we should have one and then forgets about it can hardly be trusted to be sincerely angry or determined about anything.
I suspect both unionists and republicans are hardening their positions in anticipation of next year's Assembly election. That's a bad sign, but as both factions know, sectarianism pays in votes.
The unionist campaign against the protocol is at least coherent, though, like the IRA's demand for a united Ireland, it can not actually be delivered.
But a cause that is hopeless has one great strength; it can go on forever, reaping support for its political champions without fear of them ever being put out of business by the other side caving in.
Stick to your principle and, in the end, you pick the moment of compromise. Sinn Fein picked its moment, but seems to have forgotten that.