Insensitivity and oversensitivity can both be inappropriate. It's always safer to be oversensitive than insensitive, though. Wouldn't you agree that becomes a problem when it masks how people actually feel about a subject?
Side note: I move to officially recognize mentions of Asperger's when discussing social situations as HN's custom version of Godwin's law.
No -- I think the fact that it's considered culturally inappropriate to express clearly racist and sexist opinions is a benefit -- it's the first step to stemming the spread of that cultural virus.
I disagree - and I think the fact that my first, intentionally ambiguous, comment was modded down (by some) is a hint why. I had the temerity to as much as HINT that some people are not honestly outraged by this, and was immediately shot down.
The problem is not with expressing clearly racist or sexist opinions - the problem is that any such subject automatically becomes a minefield, and anyone except the clueless (or the bored) will automatically either adopt a "how COULD they" attitude, or keep silent. There is no discussion, no explanation of why it is wrong (even if it should be self-evident), just something bordering on a witch hunt.
Now, say someone with a sexist view walks into the conversation. Having an IQ higher than, say, a garden gnome, they immediately pick up on the "right" thing to say, and join in the chorus - possibly even becoming the loudest voice. Have they actually learned anything or been convinced of anything, other than how to act?
I'm just generally not a big believer in taboos. I feel that talking about problems - HONESTLY talking about problems - is better than pretending they don't exist.
Edit: and now you got modded down. See, this is what I mean - it's such a polarized topic, it makes it almost impossible to have a normal conversation.