In England, there has been a long-prevalent belief, widely held amongst the general population, that the public enjoys a little something called "free speech." To compound this, the citizens of the United Kingdom believe that the English Bill of Rights of 1688 guarantees this freedom.
Freedom of speech, the right to speak one’s mind without fear of censorship, without fear of punishment from the Queen, the State, the courts, the police, or, for that matter, any other citizen, is not a right assured to the general populace. Article 9 of the Bill of Rights only grants this basic human right to Members of the House of Commons. Ladies and gentlemen of the United Kingdom, you do not have the right to free speech. We are still stuck in the Dark Ages, where members of the ruling class, those of royal and noble heritage, hold rights and privileges that the people, through their very existence, have earned.
So what kind of freedom of speech does the public have if it is not what they suppose it to be? For an answer to that question, one should turn to a long-time Member of Parliament by the name of Charles Fox. A member of the Whig Party, Fox’s Parliamentary career, considered to be one of the most in history, lasted for over 38 years. On November 25, 1795, just like any other day, a bill was introduced into Parliament. But, unlike any other bill, this one, entitled the "Treason and Sedition Act," attempted to place even further restrictions on free speech, Fox spoke against it, making the case for the unequivocal right of man to speak his mind freely. It is in the first paragraph that we find a description of the freedom allowed to the public then and now.
"Our Government is valuable, because it is free. What, I beg gentlemen to ask themselves, are the fundamental parts of a free Government? I know there is a difference of opinion on this subject. My own opinion is, that freedom does not depend upon the executive government, nor upon the administration of justice, not upon any one particular or distinct part, nor even upon forms so much as it does on the general freedom of speech and of writing. With regard to freedom of speech the bill before the House is a direct attack upon that freedom. No man dreads the use of a universal proposition more than I do myself. I must nevertheless say, that speech ought to be completely free, without any restraint whatever, in any government pretending to be free. By being completely free, I do not mean that a person should not be liable to punishment for abusing that freedom, but I mean freedom in the first instance, The press is so at present, and I rejoice it is so; what I mean is, that any man may write and print what he pleases, although he is liable to be punished, if he abuses that freedom; this I call perfect freedom in the first instance."
This, my friend, is the "freedom of speech" that the British public has enjoyed before and since then. Not the perfect freedom granted only to Parliamentarians, but a qualified freedom, a restricted freedom. Free speech isn't for the public. You only have as much freedom as the government gives you.