"How do we know if something is canceling vs. ordinary criticism?" I came out with a list of six things, kind of the warning signs of canceling. If you've got two or three of these, it's canceling and not criticism.
First: Is the intent of the campaign punitive? Are you trying to punish the person and take away their job, their livelihood, and their friends?
Second: Is the intent or predictable outcome of the campaign to deplatform someone and to get them out of the position that they hold where they can speak/be heard and out of any other such position?
Third: Is the tactic being used grandstanding? Is it not talking to the person about their point of view? Is it basically virtue signaling, posturing, denunciation, and sort of ritual in nature?
Fourth: Is it organized? Is it in fact a campaign? Is it a swarm? Do you have people out there saying, as is often the case, "We've got to get Nick Gillespie off the air" or "We've got to get this asshole fired"? If it's organized, then it's canceling. It's not criticism.
Fifth: A certain sign of canceling is secondary boycotts. Is the campaign targeting not only the individual but anyone who has anything to do with the individual? Are they not only saying, "We think what Nick Cannon is saying on the air is inappropriate"; are they going after the company by saying to boycott it? Are they going after his friends and professional acquaintances? If there's a secondary boycott to inspire fear so that no one wants to have anything to do with the guy for the fear that they'd be targeted, that's canceling.
Sixth: Is it indifferent to truth? Well-meaning criticism is often wrong, but if it's wrong, you're supposed to say, "Oh, gee. I'm sorry that was wrong." You're supposed to pay attention to facts. Cancelers don't. They'll pick through someone's record over a period of 20 years and find six items which they can use against them. This is what literally happened to [Harvard psychologist] Steve Pinker. Tear them out of context and distort them, and if they're corrected on them, they'll just find six other items. That's not criticism. That's canceling. These are weapons of propaganda.