So, what can I say and where can I say it?
Anything and anywhere right?
Wikipedia defines freedom of speech as "the political right to communicate one's opinions and ideas using one's body and property to anyone who is willing to receive them."
According to United States Law...
Freedom of speech includes the right:
- Not to speak (specifically, the right not to salute the flag). - West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).
- Of students to wear black armbands to school to protest a war (“Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate.”). - Tinker v. Des Moines, 393 U.S. 503 (1969).
- To use certain offensive words and phrases to convey political messages. - Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).
- To contribute money (under certain circumstances) to political campaigns. - Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976).
- To advertise commercial products and professional services (with some restrictions). - Virginia Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Consumer Council, 425 U.S. 748 (1976); Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977).
- To engage in symbolic speech, (e.g., burning the flag in protest). - Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989); United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990).
Freedom of speech does NOT include the right:
- To incite actions that would harm others (e.g., “[S]hout[ing] ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”). - Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919).
- To make or distribute obscene materials. - Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957).
- To burn draft cards as an anti-war protest. - United States v. O’Brien, 391 U.S. 367 (1968).
- To permit students to print articles in a school newspaper over the objections of the school administration. - Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988).
- Of students to make an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event. - Bethel School District #43 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986).
- Of students to advocate illegal drug use at a school-sponsored event. - Morse v. Frederick, U.S. (2007).
With all of that out of the way, what is freedom of speech, and why is it such an issue?
The big question is how to approach freedom of speech in the internet.
I look at this question by breaking it down even further. First of all, the internet involved the world. United States law does not rule the world. Plain and simple.
Also, the websites people visit are most often private businesses under their home country's law and implementing their own rules of the site. These are the most important thing to be aware of because no matter how much free speech you want to spill out on a site, they can do whatever they want to with that content (including deleting it or selling/sharing it) according to their terms and conditions.