There is an old saying…Your right to freely swing your fist ….ends at my nose. Pretty clear cut, in principle, til the lawyers get hold of it.
There is another old saying that ‘takes it back’ even further…Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. It seems almost absurd in the context of the world we live in today, where we are deeply restricted by laws and basically living in a police state. But the saying is meant to convey, in part, that we a DO have perfect freedom. The only thing that restricts that freedom is…..consequences. You are free to do whatever you want, but you WILL face the consequences for your actions. Another way to put it….Karma, it is not a philosophy…it’s The Law. For every action there is a (not necessarily equal, in human affairs) reaction.
The position of Freedom of Speech is that you have the right to use any word any way you want to. That is absolutely true.
I have the freedom of speech to call you a huge flaming asshole for doing so.
That is a consequence of you exercising your freedom.
Then you defend yourself…then I attack your defense. Then you attack my attack, and I defend. Etc. Etc. Etc. We have the Freedom of Speech to yell at each other all day long! But there are consequences. We are also “free” to punch each other in the nose, or “free” to pull out guns and shoot each other. But there will be consequences.
This is why political correctness started. The consequences for using your freedom of speech are mostly (aside from hate speech) social consequences. Iow, people yelling at you or shunning you. Yes we all have the freedom to say whatever we want, but the consequence for saying things that hurt other people is that people will say things back to hurt you. If enough people are hurt or offended by what you say you will have ALL those people trying to hurt you back. Or if you are lucky, trying to explain to you why what you are saying is hurtful. Like it or not, for good or ill, this is how societies define what is “acceptable speech.” By using their freedom of speech to “police” your freedom of speech. To make it politically (note: polite, police. Same root. Societies DO police themselves, through …politics, heh) correct. Or to use different words …(Since it has reached the point where the phrase “politically correct” is now an “attack phrase” in and of itself!)…socially acceptable. How is what is or is not socially acceptable determined?