That's a good article, but trying to conflate the Huggins situation with the tone of that article seems tenuous.
From the article:
People should be able to put forward viewpoints, ask questions and make mistakes and take unpopular but good-faith positions on issues that society is still working through — all without fearing cancellation.
I don't see anything in Huggins' comments that resemble "unpopular but good faith postions that society is working through." He's just a loudmouth in the equivalent of an on-air barroom. What he did isn't weighty or profound.
Also from the article:
Free speech is predicated on mutual respect — that of people for one another and of a government for the people it serves.
The government angle doesn't apply here, but I think the mutual respect thing does and Huggins falls short.
If there is going to be a death of the Republic, I'm going to lay the blame on social media and talk radio. Dopes like Huggins get a microphone in front of them and start bloviating to their heart's desire, say something monumentally stupid, and then feign "I was just joking" and the jock-sniffers sitting in the room with him just shrug and say "Just Huggy Bear being Huggy Bear." I don't condemn them. I just think they are incredibly stupid and in a click/listen to my podcast world, that's where we're at.
I've been around politics/government all my adult life so I've heard a lot of stupid things emanating from both ends of the political spectrum both in public and in private, so nothing really shocks me anymore. We've become increasingly polarized and that's a big problem because both sides cling to manufactured "truths" and can't abide the other side. I think the Times piece does a good job outling that challenge, which is truly a challenge. But again, I don't think the problem in a macro sense really applies to this situation.