Freedom of speech (in America) means that the government may not prevent you from saying or publishing something in a public space.
Freedom of speech does not mean
- That you can say anything you want anywhere you want, even on the job or on private property.
- That there can’t be consequences for what you say.
Freedom of speech is all about prior restraint, not about consequences.
Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can’t be successfully sued for libel or slander.
Freedom of speech doesn’t in any way prevent your employer from taking action against you because of something you said or wrote.
Freedom of speech sure as hell doesn’t mean that a TV production company can’t penalize you, suspend you or cancel your show because of what you said.
On the other hand: Freedom of speech does mean that absurdly partisan ignorami can spout off as though, if you happen to be one of them, freedom of speech should mean freedom from consequences.
Because freedom of speech does mean the freedom to be wrong and willfully ignorant.
Chances are, you already know this. But sometimes it needs to be said.
Added 12/23/13: It should go without saying, but apparently does not, that freedom of speech does not require a publisher to publish what you have to say (or keep publishing it), or a bookstore (online or physical) to carry a publication or anything of the sort.