I do not agree with a word you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Voltaire
Voltaire is expressing the essence of freedom of speech. If people are allowed to speak freely, they must be allowed to say not just those things that we agree with or approve of, but also to say things that we disagree with or disapprove of. Otherwise, we would be putting ourselves in the position of having a veto over what other people are allowed to say, and that is not free speech. We would not like other people to tell us what we may or may not say, and therefore, we must be equally tolerant of others.
One of the blessings we as United States citizens have is our First Amendment right to free speech. The ability to express opinions openly to others is an opportunity many countries do not have, and quite possibly, may never be able to utilize.
Because we have such powerful freedom in our hands, it is amazing to me that people do not use it more often. Whether it is for fear of stepping on someone’s toes or just not having the courage to say it, I think that it is a freedom we as Americans need to be more aware of and willing to use and understand.
In going off of that point, a thing to remember with free speech is that just because it is a right we have at our fingertips, it is not a license to be spiteful or say whatever we feel. There are things that free speech doesn’t protect, for example, shouting, Fire! in a crowded theater or mall or Shark! at a crowded beach when there isn’t a fire in the theater or a shark at the beach.
Free speech is a right, but at the same time it is at our disposal as a blessing and a curse. The point of it is to promote the flow of ideas from one person to another, from one group to another. It is meant to not only hold people accountable for what they say and support but to open up a way for those individuals to express themselves in an educated manner to help others understand where they are coming from.