A right guaranteed to all citizens of the United States of America by the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. This right entails the right to say almost anything you want, as long as there is no slander involved.(1) Free speech requires a certain level of maturity which it appears that a large portion of the population (of all ages) lacks. Mostly, that is the intelligence to be well-informed before one makes a statement (2) (or otherwise asserting that one is not well informed) or choosing how you say what you say and to whom you say it.(3) Recently, thanks to the Bush administration and the Patriot Act, our free speech is becoming more and more restricted. The average American is sometimes made to fear speaking freely on the phone or in some public places regarding anything disagreeing to aforementioned administration or anything even slightly rebellious, especially in groups. This fear was once ill-known, but is now more widespread due to the discovery of warrantless wiretapping.(4) Respecting free speech can be difficult when one disagrees with another person expressing their right to free speech, but to truly embrace this is to allow others to speak their peace as well. A fistfight between a Pro-Choicer and a Pro-Lifer solves nothing.
(1) Saying "I think that Paris Hilton is a dirty slut" is protected by the first amendment as free speech. Saying "Paris Hilton has AIDS. No, really! I saw it on the news!" is not.
(2) The example of saying something ill informed is like saying "Dude, I heard Osama Bin Laden is sending spiders as big as camels to attack our troops in Iraq!" First off, camel spiders are not as big as camels, and they're being found in U.S. encampments because they are attracted to the shade, not because of terrorist activities. You have the right to speak freely, you just lack the brains.
(3) If you tell someone you'll kick their ass, be prepared to face the consequences of your words. This is the burden of free speech (which, ironically, isn't too bad to deal with if you actually have some tact) The tougher side of this is that you have to try and respect that people you disagree with have just as much of a right to express themselves as you do.
(4)Innocent groups such as librarians have been oppressed and silenced by this act, whilst the feds search freely through our phone, library, internet and other information access records.