Scott Marmion (Letters, April 28) disregards the limits that every civilised society places on free speech.

Free speech does not mean the right to say whatever you like. The person who shouts ‘fire’ in a crowded cinema cannot claim free speech rights to escape legal consequences if there was no fire and people are killed in a stampede.

Free speech is a fundamental but not absolute right. Most constitutions make clear that free speech rights cannot be used as a justification for violence, slander, libel, subversion or obscenity and ban speech that incites racial or ethnic hatred, misogyny or homophobia.

A belief in the absolute right to say what you like often becomes the right of the powerful to trample the vulnerable.

Christian Vassie, Wheldrake, York