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There are multiple side to this. If we over focus on avoiding the perception of insult critique of opinion will stop and with that goes constructive debate. The problem here is we indentify our opinions with our persons. So complaint of ‘ad hominem’ ca easily cover for thin skin and the unwillingness to have an opinion one presented evaluated.
The answer seems to me is to distinguish between the person and the opinion. If the criticism is just at the person that is genuine ad hominem. However, if an opinion or idea that the person presented can be identified as the object of the critique then it is not ad hominem even though it may be perceived as such.
In today’s environment it seems to me we go out of our way to avoid insult and that has undermined the ability to simply point out that someone’s view has potential error. This too is a fallacy.
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