Shut up, you drunken shitforbrains. Hardly anyone's actually for completely unfettered free speech--maybe a few extremists and pretend internet badasses like you. Here are the main points in easy-to-digest spoilered format.
1) When it comes to the actual legal category, "free speech" always has limits. Those limits work if they seem so obvious and natural that "free speech" still seems free.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
For someone like Milton in Areopagitica, it was completely rational that Roman Catholicism be excluded from free speech as a condition of free speech. This seems absurd to almost all of us now. But it didn't seem absurd to Milton at all. The first article that Kai links casually invokes kiddie porn as an example of a necessary limit to free speech. This seems obvious to us--disagreeing might get you labeled a monster (or worse, like an attorney). But as someone like birdman (with his ongoing professional engagement with pedos) knows well, this example isn't simple or straightforward. The logic is that representations of non-consensual harm shouldn't be protected by free speech. But this isn't true in all cases at all. All sorts of grey areas, like videos of animals being harmed. To explain kiddie porn an obvious limit to free speech, you have to very particular about what kinds of consent and non-consent (children involved, sexual, whatever) limit the free spread of depictions of an act. And, of course, the issue of free speech being possibly limited by the harm it causes (rather than by the harm that went into producing representations) is complex too.
The point isn't to be a pretend badass nihilist and say, no no no I'm for all free speech. The point is to recognize soberly that there are limits to free speech and what those limits should be are always cultrually & historically negotiated.
2) There's an obvious distinction between legally protected free speech vs. the bullshit made-up freedom to spout off whatever you want without consequences.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
When the right-wing moron brigade protests Starbucks for not saying Merry Christmas or whatever, they're not infringing on Starbucks's free speech. They're just being mouthbreathers with their own free speech and dollars. Or, more to the point, if I tell my students to stop saying stupid shit in their papers, I'm not infringing on their legal free speech.
3) There are plenty of cases in which there's a grey area between 1) and 2).Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Steve Salaita case at UIUC was (or might have been, at least) one of them because it involved hiring at a public university. Except, of course, right wingers don't want to talk about that example since the speech being protected was anti-Israel and pro-Palestine. I actually thought that Salaita was going to lose his case because it was just a hiring/contractual issue, but the judge in the case sided with him, at least via the details of the contract if not about free speech.
4) The Economist
article above doesn't talk about 3) in any smart way. It resorts to a bullshit maneuver about how right-wing dictators get to complain about some perceived hypocrisy. But the claim that we need to give free rein to right-wing bullshit of all sorts--NOT just legally under the First Amendment, but also in social outlets like universities--so we can appease right-wing dictators is stupid. Especially if we consider point 1), whereby even legal free speech does have some limits in such a way that undercuts the weaselly accusation of hypocrisy.