Being right is fun, but being wrong is important. When we avoid hard topics in hopes of never facing confrontation, we miss our chances for self-exploration and improvement.
It is imperative to our collective growth that we have conversations-- silly ones, serious ones, and ones in which we’re told we’re wrong. By limiting ourselves to strictly non-controversial topics because we fear rejection, we only let the fear grow stronger until it engulfs us completely.
A potential solution to this avoidance is radical kindness. Unless otherwise informed of one's malicious intentions, assume that their words are said in good faith. This allows space for the majority of people to have comfortable dialogue about uncomfortable topics, rather than fostering a hostile environment.
Wrong or misguided ideas are far more likely to fester into something sinister if they are never addressed by a different perspective than if they are outwardly discussed.
The notion of staying silent to preserve one's reputation is increasingly popular today, especially in celebrity circles. Those who are still looked upon fondly by the general public tend to be those who never really amplify their voices past generic platitudes: think Harry Styles' "treat people with kindness," or Ellen DeGeneres' "be kind to one another."
I'm not trying to diminish the real struggles some have faced from statements taken out of context. However, I don't think public backlash is a reason to stop having important discussions. There will likely always be someone who will demonize your statements. If anything, it's a reason to start having them more often.
Having the courage to talk about messy questions with unclear answers comes naturally when one assumes there are people around them who will support and uplift the deserving parts of themselves: the parts that seek truth and want to understand differences.
Unproblematic people do not exist. Everyone is composed of both dark and light. Let the light part of yourself guide you in conversations with others.