Another simple thing that I intend to try and do when faced with someone who has regressive views and beliefs is simply ask, "why?"
Since the failed recall effort in WI I have basically written off all extreme right leaning people and segregated myself from them. This lack of dialogue I think is not a good strategy and may be one of the reasons there is such a divide in the country.
I don't intend to offer arguments, pass judgement or belittle. When I hear someone say something racist, hateful, sexist or regressive in some other sort of way. I'm simply going to ask them, "Why" as many times as possible. It will help me understand the person more and maybe make them take a moment to reflect on some of these beliefs that they hold which I have a sneaking suspicion that many who hold such beliefs have never actually done before.