Concurring Dale M:
"The US believes it's [exemplary] about freedom of speech
It isn't; it's just different."
Here are a few very specific examples where the U.S. is more restrictive in freedom of speech than any EU countries.
The government institution of a jury is basically a small-sample precipitation of public opinion, and a form of direct democracy at the crux of liberty and repression. No matter what laws are passed, no matter who passes them, no matter who judges them: If 12 of their peers is a serious safe guard from arbitrary jurisprudential law making distorting the democratic process. A jury decision on matters of law is effectively the little brother of referenda or "popular initiatives" except not having a presidential effect. Without that, it is completely valid to allow the jury to say: If there was a referendum today for a law to be passed that, in the cases of these facts, would imprison someone, we would not want that law: We acquit on the basis of the law not reflecting the will of the people.
This, however, not only is banned in the U.S., but however, with the intent to influence an empaneled jury or any member thereof shares the idea they have a constitutional right to call "null" or "nullify" (fullify) its jury "duty" can be convicted for criminal contempt of court.
If a defendant tries that on the court floor, he will definitely be charged, and good luck proving that mens rea did not exist.
Since juries are almost completely inexistent in European countries, the paranoid ideologues of SCOTUS, the ABA or no one can fear-monger that the rule of law would be broken if this was allowed because there is no jury there.
There is, however, millennia of legal tradition of the "right of last word" which basically the most unrestricted form of free speech imaginable, you may, without reprisal, make any argument in your own defense, including stating that the judge should acquit for any reasons, or a charge was brought against you as a result of entrapment.
Speaking of entrapment, the defense may not be presented to the jury unless the evidence presented by either party makes it substantially possible. This precedent-set law basically shifts the burden of proof from proving guilt to requiring the proof of innocence. Introducing this idea to the jury "knowingly, and willfully" may very well also result in criminal contempt of court.
Merely Speaking for Yourself in Court -- unless you want them to decide that you waived or forfeited your right to the assistance of counsel
But the list goes on: A defendant simply may be ordered never to speak so long as an attorney is assigned to them for their "assistance". In Europe, an attorney really is an assistance. You can let him speak for you, you can cut him off, you can present your own defense, you can function as co-counsel without any further b—s.
Of course, you may exercise your right to take charge of the case, but the government will tell you "you can't have it both ways", you can invoke your right under Faretta, but then no assistance of counsel. This latter was recognized to be completely unconstitutional since the U.S. Constitution did not guarantee representation, but merely assistance. Therefore, while the default must presume that a defendant needs assistance in everything to make sure the due process of law is discharged in the operation of the judiciary, when a defendant -- without indication of any mental incompetence -- does assert his right to take charge wherever they may deem it fit, it should be allowed. This is only permitted in California if you invoke Faretta, and the courts will, pretty much default, unless a lawyer yourself, assigned counsel to assist you, but even so, will not acknowledge that it simply does what the U.S. Constitution mandates, but calls these attorneys advisory counsels (a drafter assist), stand-by counsel (non-drafter, appearing in court to step in when asked or ordered), or hybrid counsel (rarely even mentioned, one of both functions).
In Europe, its not only the motions falsely claiming that "Defendant Alice Bob, is making this motion", and never had a say in filing or not filing other than accepting the attorney as whole package or declining them altogether, but one may actually represent himself while being provided the assistance of counsel, default.
Once you forfeited your right to any assistance of counsel
The restrictions will only increase: Now the duty to relate information to the jury only that is admissible to the jury will be borne by you, and your defense will be greatly limited. In chambers (outside the presence of the public and the jury, off record) is where it is decided "what the case is", that is, what information will be fed to the jury. So the whole jury trial is basically an expensive show, and the trial is nothing, but a show trial.
One may argue pro why this practice is good, but any argument that may be made can be set aside by the fact opposing counsel should also be permitted to say or present whatever they may wish, if they wish to relate that something is irrelevant then they should be welcome to do so.
In Europe, once again, you say whatever you want on the "right of last word" which enters the record, and will be basis for appeals so the court must consider it.
If you start attacking the a prosecuting attorney for, say, misconduct or malicious prosecution, let alone that the court is complicit, you will quickly face an exception of the Faretta rule
If you take up the gauntlet against malicious prosecution, and refuse any "deals", say, merely because you've been played with enough without lawful basis or even without probable cause, you may feel tempted to use your opportunity of defense to set the record that you see them for who they are, or actually start playing the game for "self-gratification" to prove the point that you can take up the gauntlet, and you may not be arbitrarily treated by the system.
That will be prohibited per SCOTUS case law in Faretta:
“I cannot agree that there is anything in the Due Process Clause or the Sixth Amendment that requires the States to subordinate the solemn business of conducting a criminal prosecution to the whimsical — albeit voluntary — caprice of every accused who wishes to use his trial as a vehicle for personal or political self-gratification.” (Faretta v. California (1975) 422 U.S. 806, 849)
Basically, one may even be deprived of his right to take charge of the case even at the expense of losing any assistance if the only reason to do so is to play the game with the prosecution, or make statements to the effect of condemning fallacies or the entirety of the judge which is inherently a political statement as in that present moment, the judge is the top of one of the branches of power.
Once again, in Europe, at least on the right to last word, you will be able to make that even.
Freedom of Speech is only protected under the U.S. constitution if the speech is such that a reasonable person would understand as a political statement
The rest may be restricted by state constitutions, state law or federal law according to SCOTUS precedent.
All in all, not being able to say to your "trier-of-fact" or "trier-of-law" whatever you'd like is analogous to a king requiring that you talk respectfully as he arbitrarily has you incarcerated, hang or sliced. At least in Europe you can tell them in the face they are criminal when you know that on the right of last word, in a number of EU Member States without the possibility of prosecution on that basis during the last-word speech.
Basically, in the U.S. you can exercise your right to express your opinion about government except about those and when it would make a difference: In a court room about the judiciary when you are facing to be deprived of property, liberty or life.
Outside of the judicial context
Some comments mention hate speech...
California Penal Code § 415 provides:
- Any of the following persons shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than 90 days, a fine of not more than four hundred dollars ($400), or both such imprisonment and fine:
(1) Any person who […] challenges another person in a public place to fight.
(2) Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another person by loud and unreasonable noise. [(a sort of harassment?)]
(3) Any person who uses offensive words in a public place which are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.
"Lock him up" on a Trump rally in California could be charged under the rational of paragraph 3, especially when, as it is reasonably expectable, will result in "immediate violent reaction". Of course, a court, if necessary public attention would follow such a charge, would find that it must be construed in line with the fundamental liberties provided by Amendment I and XIV, a challenge would establish court of appeals case law to not repeal the law by court order as unconstitutional, but just be read out the implied restriction so as to save its constitutionality. Yet, the chilling effect of hiding such "liberty" on the shelves of law libraries filled with case "laws" effectively will chill freedom of speech.
(Two examples of such resolution to facially unconstitutional California laws saved by courts instead of sent back for more precise wording:
“Once section 31 [of the California Vehicle Code] is read as containing a materiality requirement, all constitutional standards are met.” People v. Morera-Munoz (2016) 5 Cal.App.5th 838, 854
“A "false statement is material [for the purposes of Penal Code 148.5] if it could probably influence the outcome of the proceeding ... ." (People v. Rubio (2004) 121 Cal.App.4th 927, 933.)” (People v. Knott (Jan. 30, 2019, B277799) ___ Cal.App.2d ___ [pp. 14])
On the other hand...
The police under Franks...
May lie the start out of the skies for a charge or conviction under oath in a search warrant affidavit, and even the knowing, intentional and purposeful lies will not mandate a quash unless the specific lie itself was material to the determination of probable cause. (Much free speech! Very liberty!)
Although, the logic fails in that if a falsehood is made knowingly or even with reckless disregard to its veracity, that negates of most standard penalty-of-perjury affirmations without which an affidavit is not an affidavit.
In other words, the affirmation states that the foregoing is true and correct (sometimes without restrictions to the best of ones knowledge, but even therewith) and a lie therefor would negate the affidavit as a whole, permitting by case law that it is ok results in a "first search then answer why you searched" type of police state since no one will send them in jail for perjury, in fact, the affidavit and the search warrant will be favored and permitted rendering the entirety of the search warrant proceeding nothing, but yet another fancy show procedure while basically the police can lie whatever they want, the magistrate will be protected to have presumed the SW affidavit true because of the perjury affirmation, and if something is found as a result of the self-issued SW, then it "was meant to be" or it was a "good hunch".
Effectively, the police has its own permits to search, the search warrants for itself. That is the definition of a police state. Corruption is present everywhere, but absent case-law based jurisprudence it is not codified to be so by judges, and there is always the chance a judge will just be a straight arrow, and you as a corrupt peace officer will land in jail for something like a knowingly lying search warrant affidavit.
This, again, as Dale M said, very different. Questionable if it is "exceptional" other than in the sense that is not necessarily flattering.