Oh good. I'll go!
As I've mentioned to many of you before, I currently live in Malaysia so I often feel like I'm visiting a very, very, very familiar foreign country whenever I visit home. I'd argue that I kind of fit in here, but not quite. When I'm back in Mass, I kind of fit in, but not quite.
But I digress. I think that political correctness and "cancel culture" can be problematic, but not just because a bunch of "liberal snowflakes" get their panties in a bunch because you misgendered Ru-Paul, but because the US is such individualistic country, it's hard to know what the "rules" are.
Here in Malaysia, the government has tight rules on speech in the media, in public and online. I know there are a few things that I can't write on my facebook page - not because someone will "check my privilege" but because I could, theoretically, get pinched by the local police. You could get arrested for making a facebook post that criticizes religions (especially Islam), racist comments, positive comments about Israel or communism or promoting homosexuality.
And yes, those restrictions are archaic and unfortunate, but at least Malaysians "know the rules," so to speak.
The US, for our part, is much more individualistic and freedom of speech is guaranteed, but that has opened the door for individual corporations to control public speech. Misgender someone at work, that's a firing. Support a conservative candidate (these days), that's a firing. Talk negatively about the military in the media, and watch the response.
So yes, I'd argue that, to a certain extent, "cancel culture" is real and we should be weary of it. I don't necessarily think that cancel culture is all bad - I think we can agree that if the CEO of NIKE came out with a Nazi t-shirt, we'd all want to boycott their products. That's fine. But from what I see on the left AND the right, is a certain hypersensitivity towards certain individual topics and that makes it harder to have important discussions.
Even with Malaysia's restrictions on free speech, I've had far more interesting conversations on race, immigrations or other social issues here than I ever did living and working in Cambridge or Billerica. That's because the people I was talking weren't looking for one strangely worded sentence and trying to find ways that it offends them. Truth be told, I find myself biting my tongue more often when I'm in the US than when I'm Malaysia, and that's unfortunate.