I had a thought.
Note it's late and I didn't fully think on this and it is not an official statement in the slightest.
I wonder what it'd be like if we allowed these but were much more harsh on name-calling, shit-stirring, and foul language and the like on the statuses. One of my concerns is how often these devolve and how it's harder to punish them.
So like people could post controversial thoughts but if anyone steps out of line then bam, punishment. It'd likely be more strict than threads but it could be a way to allow these while making sure people know it's still not okay to get hostile.
Again, this is just a thought that came to mind and idek if it's what I'd prefer yet.
I think that's fair. The biggest issue I'd say is that in the case of some statuses, they kind of "have" to devolve before they really become egregious enough to punish. Often that leads to the rule being perceived as unfair because it's trying to prevent a discussion that may not necessarily turn out that way. This is hyperbole, but it's like punishing a crime before it happens. The difficulty in having a broad rule is that something that risks creating a situation that would violate the rules would be deemed a problem, which raises another issue. You could let the status progress to a conversation naturally, and if that conversation gets out of hand, you can deal with it accordingly. But it's just as possible that a conversation that goes poorly could be resolved with people coming to a form of compromise, so if there's reason to believe that's possible, leave them be, though stay vigilant.
And yes, I think we all know each well enough to accurately anticipate how a conversation will progress, but heading that off at the pass is not the answer. Your solution sounds fine. People can post controversial thoughts, but if someone responds to those thoughts, and then a hostile argument breaks out, then while the initial controversial thought did contribute to the eventual argument, ultimately it may not necessarily be the most offensive comment in the exchange.
Basically, advise caution when posting controversial thoughts, but don't punish them necessarily. Though if someone is just opening with flamebait, that's not a "controversial thought". That's just being an asshole for its own sake, and should definitely be punished on first site. "I voted for this" or "I hope this passes" is innocuous when all is said and done. People may not like what the person is supporting, but they're not targeting anyone or picking a fight. But if you open with "Hey, f*** that guy!" to target someone on the site, then you should be punished.