There seems to have been a lot of confusion over the last few years, focused around just what free speech actually is. According to Wikipedia, “freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community to articulate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or sanction.”
However, a lot of ‘people’ (it pains me to recognise them as members of the human race) believe that freedom of speech should allow us to act upon racist, homophobic and other judgmental views in a way that does nothing but fuel hatred and violence, without sanction or punishment.
While freedom of speech dictates that we should be allowed to express a personal dislike of specific gender, sexuality, race, or whatever, it does not give us the right to abuse, attack, victimise, vilify or harm in any way an individual or group.
Some ‘people’ try to tell us that the laws brought in to prevent the spreading of racial hatred are infringing on our right to free speech. Some claim that this human right is under attack from governments. These ‘people’ are, quite simply, wrong.
If you don’t like Muslims, and wish to share this information with the world, you can go stand in the street and shout it out. You can tell all of Twitter and Facebook that you hate gay people. That is your right, and nobody is actually trying to stop you. Because, quite frankly, nobody fucking cares.
What they are trying to stop is the fucking morons who go around inciting hatred; the absolute embarrassments to humanity that seek to cause harm and distress to those they dislike. People like the English Defence League, Britan First, and all the other far-right extremists who think it’s okay to call brand all Muslims terrorists and threaten them with violence. Because that’s not just expressing an opinion.
For example: I believe that Kanye West is a just a total arsehole with seemingly no redeeming qualities. I am allowed to say this “without fear of retaliation, censorship, or sanction” because of freedom of speech*. And because he (probably) has no interest in what I think. However, if I called for him to be hunted down and attacked, this would not be okay. You see the difference?
All that being said, even if you do want to head out into the street and shout out your racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. opinions or beliefs, I would advise against it. Not because it’s illegal, but because it lets everybody else know that you’re a massive twat.
*also because around 99.9% of people would agree