There are three important things to remember with the right to free speech.
1. The right to free speech doesn’t exempt you from consequences.
Whether that’s an arrest, a punch in the face or being told to shut up and get out, your rights are not being violated. No one is preventing you from speaking. You are facing the consequences of your actions.
2. You have a right speak as you will. You do not have the right to a platform.
Just as I can’t sue the talentless, no good publisher… I mean, the busy people I’m sure are lovely…. for refusing my manuscript, you can’t claim your rights are violated when told to shut up and get out. As above, no one is preventing you from speaking. They are simply refusing you a platform to speak, as is their right. You are not entitled to TV air time, a spot in the local rag or the stage that is the bus station at one in the AM.
3. Free speech applies to everyone. Even with subjects considered distasteful.
It’s a sadly common thing where the right to free speech is used as an excuse to promote a person’s ideals, who would then scream about their rights being violated should anyone dare to disagree. The right to free speech applies to everyone. Not the few you want to speak.
“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltaire
While these points may seem to contradict each other, the reality is they don’t. The right to free speech comes with responsibilities. Say what you will, but be prepared to deal with backlash.