For those who believe wholeheartedly in the principles of democracy and liberal government, the freedom of speech is something that should subsist without any restriction or imparted conditioning. It is an accepted privilege of democratic rule, that allows individuals to express their thoughts and feelings without the fear of censorship or reprisal, and also affords them the freedom to access information in order to aid an independent quest for knowledge and wisdom.
However, if the core values of democracy are to be maintained entirely, then the freedom of speech and expression must be upheld without exception and in every viable social circumstance. If this is not the case, then the concept becomes one that actually opposes liberal rule, especially in situations where individuals are censored or punished for revealing views which are deemed to be controversial or potentially divisive. The question is whether free speech is an unconditional feature of democracy, or any applicable to those who have nothing to say.
A Case in Point
An example of this issue unfolded in the US this week, as a high school English teacher was suspending for expressing her anger and frustration on an internet blog. The text contained numerous disrespectful or insulting insinuations towards her students and the methods of teaching in contemporary society, although the writer refrained from making specific references to their place of work or individual students.