The freedom of speech does not avoid the duty to speak truthfully and fairly any more than the freedom to drive a car means you can avoid the duty to be sober and competent. Sadly we live in an age when every clown is encouraged to offer their opinion regardless of the fact that it is ill-informed and of no worth at all other than to illustrate their utter lack of knowledge, self-awareness or discipline.
As a result we have entered an age in which unrestrained sentiment seems to trump truth and honesty. Sure it looks like freedom of speech, but its not. It is speech but its not free - unless you imagine freedom arises in ignorance, egotism, arrogance and ill-will. There's an old saying that came out a bitter global conflict - the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. It means that liberty is accompanied by self-discipline and alertness. The point of vigilance is the defence against self-delusion and self-satisfaction, not projecting against an imagined external foe.
In an age of rising passion for populism we must be reminded of the Nazis who exercised a freedom of speech that induced a nation into self-delusion and self-satisfaction.
There's a compelling and under-rated book by William Gairdner called 'The Book of Absolutes' in which he argues cogently against the delusion of relativism. It matters whether a truth is absolute or contingent - and therefore subject to opinion, regardless of the degree of knowledge or insight offered.
We may have a freedom to speak, but I say we have a duty to know when to exercise that freedom for the common good and when to keep silent. Freedoms cannot be exercised willy nilly. They are always framed by duties and obligations. Why is it that we think it is okay for crude, rude and stupid opinions to be carelessly broadcast and given credence?
Its one thing to say that we must protect 'the freedom of speech' but what, exactly, do we mean?