Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship or limitation. The synonymous term freedom of expression is sometimes used to denote not only freedom of verbal speech but any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.
In the United States freedom of expression is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which in part prevents the government from creating laws that infringe the freedom of speech.
There are some exceptions to this, including threats against others, or speech that is likely to cause harm or violence (certain types of aggressive hate speech, yelling fire in a crowded theater, etc). And these exceptions are perfectly reasonable and valid, as long as they are used judiciously in an effort to protect, and not censor.
A South Carolina senator, Robert Ford, has introduced legislation that would “MAKE IT UNLAWFUL TO COMMUNICATE PROFANITY IN A PUBLIC FORUM OR PLACE OF PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION” and subject violators to fines up to $5000 and up to five years imprisonment. You can view the bill here if you’re interested in banging your head against your desk repeatedly.
I could go on and on about the stupidity of such a bill, about how it violates the First Amendment, about how to define profanity, about how it’s totally unenforceable, etc, but I really don’t want to waste the keystrokes on such an imbecilic jackass like Senator Ford…
So, I’ll just finish off this topic by stealing a quote from a comment I came across on another blog discussing this topic:
It’s like trying to stop the wind by outlawing fans.