Freedom of speech is a democratic right and is also an important right. But speech and words can always become tools to undermine democracy.
Germany prohibits certain symbols, Holocaust denial violates German laws and sites like Stormfront wouldn’t be possible on German servers. Something like “Jews should be thankful for the Holocaust” (like Limbaugh’s “Blacks should be thankful for slavery”) would end a German’s TV-carrier forever I think.
America is somehow the contrast with freedom of speech very or most important.
The interesting observation I made is the difference how some or many Americans deal with criticism compared to Germans, best visible on messageboards. Predominantly white messageboards are so quick to censor and ban non-mainstream thoughts that it becomes clear, that this “freedom of speech” is somehow an empty phrase. On German political boards people are in most cases only banned if they threaten members or violate German hate-speech laws (in Germany the owner of a message board is responsible for the content).
Nowhere is my free speech so restricted than on American “liberal” message boards or blogs. It’s a tragic irony that quite often those who defend freedom of speech for themselves can’t endure the freedom of speech of somebody else.
But of what worth is the basic democratic right of freedom of speech when it can be used as a tool to destroy democracy? How much censorship via laws is necessary to protect basic human rights for all?