There is a lot of stuff being said right now about “free speech,” and there seems to be a lot of arguments about it. It does not only mean the right to hold any opinions you wish, it also means that you can express those opinions without the government censuring you, like throwing you into jail only because you don’t agree with something a Congressman, Senator or even the president said.
It also means that you can look for, gather, share and keep information of all kinds in all forms. There are some reasonable restrictions: you can’t slander someone and print something horrible and bad about him or her, telling lies and trying to convince everyone that this person is bad just because they have annoyed you. And it means you can’t use something that belongs to someone else to make them look like fools or hurt them, or make money from some other person’s work.
Free speech does not mean that you can steal someone’s research or writing or painting and call it your own. Free speech means that you cannot tell someone’s secrets, or seal their ideas for something they made: you can hold your opinions and express them, but you need to be kind about it and not cruel. You need to be honest about it and not lie; you need to respect other people’s privacy and you cannot hurt others “just for free.”
So free speech means you can express what you know and learn from what others know, It means you can study new things and follow those studies wherever they take you unless you violate someone’s privacy, steal something or use what you know to do something bad.
The best thing about free speech is that you can respect someone’s viewpoint even though it is very different from your own, because you know that he or she will respect your opinions also. This takes work! But it is so very important!