In the wake of the recent shootings in Orlando, this is where the post's title comes in. You think--"John, people should have the right to do it, right? Isn't this a free country?"
Well, sort of. Remember the proverb of not yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater? See, that's where the part about limits on free speech comes in.
Let me give you some examples of how free speech in a way is limited.
1. Kobe Bryant, 2011--we remember his anti-gay views from the playoffs 5 years ago, when my Dallas Mavericks won the whole thing. But when his LA Lakers were in the playoffs, he began tweeting his anti-gay views, and that got him fined $100,000.
2. Donald Sterling, 2014--We all know this one, because when then-new commissioner Adam Silver condemned those racist comments, as well as many other prominent NBA figures, including hall-of-famers whoa re now commentators. It got him a permaban and a $2.5M fine.
3. Dr. D, 1984--Most of us remember this incident all too well. John Stossel, then on ABC News' 20/20, questioned whether wrestling was fake. Here's how it went down:
Stossel: You know the standard question. I think this is fake.
Dr. D: You think it's fake? (socks Stossel's right ear) What's that, is that fake? Huh? What the hell's wrong with you? That's an open-hand slap. You think it's fake? I'll fake you? (socks Stossel's left ear) Huh? What do you mean, fake? What the hell's the matter with you?
Background person: Easy, easy.
Well...that got him in hot water, and he got fined $425,000 for it. (As for my thoughts on whether wrestling is fake: If it was fake, it wouldn't be an Olympic sport. IIRC, the Dr. D in the Olympic instance is not the same one socking Stossel; if it were, he probably would be rescinded of his Olympic gold medal.)