Kythia, I don't know how much help I can be on this, but you were awesome to me in another thread and i want to try my best.
It seems to be a culture change.
When I was growing up, there was a little rhyme of, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me."
Compare to today:https://richgirlconfessions.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/tumblr_lmjbe4oufg1qbm9ico1_500.jpg
(Linked: image of child. - Staff)
So, which is better?
One thing I've noticed is that, when you can't criticize someone, constructive criticism gets really difficult. I remember vividly learning in 6th grade how much my feelings got hurt when a teacher told me about all the problems that I had with a project I was working on. Contrast that with a few years ago when I paid someone to look over my novel and tell me what needed fixing.
There's a lot of things that hurt feelings, but if we attempt to stop any feelings from being hurt, we do ourselves a disservice.
There's a TV stereotype where a woman asks a man if she looks fat in this dress. Now, some people might know they look terrible and simply want to fish for a compliment, but others are actively deciding which dress they should wear to a particular party.
Should we promote a society where we try to make each other feel as good as possible, or a society where we value honesty above everything else?
For my money, criticism gives us a chance to grow. We learn new things and we try our best to be better as a result. Although something may be temporarily upsetting, we can learn from it.
Now, admittedly, this seems like a far cry from the concept of dipping a crucifix in urine and calling it art, or doing whatever happened in Charlie Hebdo that so many news organizations feel completely justified in blurring out while claiming they support free speech.
The problem is that it's such a fine line.
I am horrified as well as offended that someone might believe in both God and Satan and choose Satan. Yet people do.
I consider it offensive that two people who don't love each other would get married just for the government benefits. Yet people do, and it makes perfect sense for them to do so, especially if they don't consider marriage sacred in the way that I do.
For the latter, I really think we'd be much better off not having the government involved in marriage whatsoever. It's really the only way to be fair and make everyone happy.
I believe it was Russia where they went by Freedom of Worship instead of Freedom of Religion, where you could privately worship whatever you wanted but couldn't show any signs of it or attempt to proselytize. That would be pretty bad also.
Now, I will agree that some things are just being a jerk (and use whatever synonym for jerk you like. I used to say dick but someone didn't like that one), but I don't think I want being a jerk to be a crime. It's way too subjective, for one thing.
I also also agree that we should be consistent. Either we should stop banning prayer in public schools or we should ban insulting religion and various other types of speech. I never did like the idea that we try to draw a line and say, "Okay, we like this but we don't like this, and we the government know what's best for you."
As far as the idea that certain speech can get you physically assaulted, I think we should absolutely strive away from that. While it may be an emotional response, we may be able to sympathize with people who respond in that way, but we should strive to be better than that.