Freedom of speech is the liberty to speak and write without fear of government restraint. It is closely linked to freedom of the press. In the United States both freedoms—commonly called freedom of expression—are protected by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. The amendment provides that "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."
Most other Western countries guarantee freedom of speech, either in their constitutions or by legislative enactment. All countries, however, limit manifestations of free speech that are regarded as threatening the civil order or as obscene or slanderous. The extent to which speech is regarded as threatening or slanderous and the way in which limits are imposed are critical factors in determining the degree of free speech in a society.