Most of us in the states grew up believing free speech was a good thing.

Given a moment of thought, one can see why. It's hard to know precisely what the truth is. The point, supposedly, is to keep people from being jailed for saying things that offend the powers that be, yet are true, or close enough to the truth that the public should be able to hear it. Nevertheless, while we may not theoretically gag someone in advance, we certainly will, or would, in the past, punish someone for libel and slander, breach of contract, and so forth.

"Sorry, I was kidding, free speech" doesn't get you out of a contract.

Most importantly, there will always be heresy. From Matt's Musings:

There are always blasphemy laws in any culture, even a libertine culture, where it is blasphemy to say, “That is immoral”, or “Maybe you should have self-control,” or, “Do you really need another cookie?”.

This is why the woke religion of tolerance is anything but tolerant. Actual tolerance of unapproved heresies are an ideological and memetic threat. Any system of morality has things that it simply will not allow. Taleb points this out in essay and book section on the intolerant minority.

It's also why Libertarianism fails via the very tragedy of the commons they abhor - they are nearly defenseless against those who violate the NAP, or sociopaths in general. Especially those who can organize. It also fails to recognize that corporations/etc. are also power centers, that, at scale, become de-facto governments just as thoroughly capable of abusing liberty and people.

The entirety of Matts essay is worth looking at, but I find it most interesting to note how free speech was used to break past boundaries. I've pointed out before how the left, much like borderlines and other cluster B's, does not believe in boundaries, political, national, personal, or otherwise. Hell, the entire system of progressivisnm/communism/socialism/fascism is inherently totalitarian - the operational scope including all aspects of life - by design and repeatedly bluntly stated as such via slogans such as "the personal is political."

I don't yet have an answer to what speech should be restricted, insofar as how to draft laws to identify and limit what should not be said above and beyond the already sensible standards of deliberate lies/libel/etc.. I also think strong limits should be placed on what can be restricted by the state or other centralized power nodes,  because while the state does need some powers, the more scope of authority you grant to any concentration of power, the more, and faster, it will gather power to itself and quash opposition.

But free speech as a general principle, without asking what we are free to do with it, and a focus on insuring that what is protected is the freedom to speak the truth, is dead to me.

Incidentally, in regards to this comic, while trying to find the image, I ran into the following - a post at an entire blog denigrating Stonetoss:

Why It’s Fucking Stupid: StoneToss is like the personification of bigotry’s duality. On one hand, he wants to make an argument, in bad faith, that can at least vaguely pass as somehow fair or having its own point. In this case, that it should be okay to burn gay pride flags if it’s okay to burn the American flag. This sparks discussion that serves as a catalyst to lead people into potentially agreeing that burning the gay pride flag is something that should not be protected as hate speech. This tactic can, and often does, bear success. However, in order for it to work, the arguer (StoneToss, in this case) has to construct their bad faith in a way that can, on some level, reasonably be seen as a good point (make a comic that isn’t total garbage, in this case). StoneToss wants to achieve this, but he also really wants to hate gay people.

The commentary above is in and of itself, dishonest - nevermind borderline incoherent. Aside from a chuckle at the fact that Stonetoss has acquired "hate fans": what part of the argument is in bad faith? The comic points out that in this day and age, burning the American flag, deliberately vandalizing and repudiating a symbol of a country that many citizens, at least until recently, felt allegiance to and pride in, and thus its values, is "free speech," and doing the same for a gay pride flag is not protected, and classified as "hate speech."

That hating this country and all that goes with it is perfectly tolerable, but repudiating a liberal shibboleth is a crime.

That under the current establishment, some animals are more equal than others, even as they preach equality.

The “right” way to make this argument would be to lean heavily into the comparison to the American flag. By making the people that are represented by the American flag into the ‘victims’ (and being that it can easily be said that literally all Americans are represented by the flag, you can apply this victimhood to everyone/anyone), you can then sway them into thinking the gay rainbow flag should be no different. “They can burn the American flag!” an outraged listener thinks, feeling that the flag burning is a personal affront to them. “The gay pride flag should be no different!“, the listener concludes, feeling that equality in flag burning translates to equity in society.

Coincidentally - that is exactly what the comic does, by implication. But he was college "educated" and can't figure that out for himself because it wasn't spoon fed.

Further down, he makes exactly the point the comic is hilighting:

What exactly makes it hate speech to burn the gay pride flag, while it’s legal to burn the American flag? Well, first of all, “American” is a very vague and broad classification of people. Gay people in the USA are also American, and it’s not like it’s homophobic to burn the flag that represents them (and all other Americans). To put it more bluntly, “American” is a very generic, shallow categorization. Also, much to the chagrin of alt-rightest conspiracy theories across the land: Gay people aren’t a government. The USA, however, does have a government, and it’s been firmly cemented in our constitutional rights from day one that citizens are free and able to disagree and protest their government. Burning an American flag is recognized as a form of protest against the government.

And he accuses Stonetoss of dishonesty and shallow argument.

First - shallow categories? As if Americans and Australian aborigines are interchangeable cogs? Ones nation, culture, heritage, and the resulting identity is dismissed as nothing as compared to being gay - as if that identity overrides all others.

Secondly - protest against the government is not the only public concern speech that exists, or would be protected by the 1st amendment. Like all aficionados of hate speech laws, he finds an excuse to carve out why [sjw cause] is sacred and cannot be criticized, why you can't say it's wrong. Why protesting or disliking [sjw cause] is the heresy du jourfor the establishment and SJW powers that be.

You do not need to “protest against the gay pride government”, because it doesn’t fucking exist.

Note the specificity, so he can dismiss the existence of power structures.

First - the government he grudgingly concedes you do have a right to protest has de facto generally bought into the policies and "philosophy" of social justice and critical theory. Protesting the government and policy now includes protesting gay rights and other social justice policies, because the government took that power unto itself.

Second, as I like pointing out to LOLbertarians, governments are not the only power centers. There is absolutely a political Gay rights/power movement that is trying to ensure their policies are put in place, and enforced via not only social pressure, but via the same government he claims we're "allowed" to protest and sway the actions of, against any and all comers including competing religions that won't submit.

Burning the gay pride flag says only one thing: gay people do not have equity in human rights.

No more than burning the American or any other national flag does. No more than gloating over the demographic decline of [demographic] does, or ascribing a plethora of evils to [demographic] on the color of their skin.

Or excusing such hatred because [demographic] is deemed to be systemically powerful.

All governments may be gay, but not all gay are governments. It is written.

Coherency is apparently straight, white, non-liberal supremacy.

The point I'm making is this.

You are always free to say, without consequence, whatever those in power, whether "government" or not, agree with. A just government or political center should take steps to not punish the truth, and perhaps even to protect those who tell it, from those who abuse power. But people are people, sociopaths and the evil will always seek power over others and punish those who oppose them.

Since we already punish lies via laws revolving around contracts and libel / slander, the question isn't whether speech should be unfettered, much less from consequence, but what speech is to be discouraged.

If truth, nay, the very concept of truth is being attacked except when it can be used as a club, the people leading the charge, as well as the cannon fodder, are not your friends.

Lies should be punished.