"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" - Voltaire.
This one line sums up for me, the whole essence of democractic behaviour. Disagree, disagree vociferously, but jaw jaw instead of ban ban, or burn burn. The First Amendment to the US constitution for example, says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Thus, the right to freedom of speech and expression is absolute. Similar laws exist in other democracies.
Unfortunately, the one democracy that has never stood up for freedom of expression is our own India. Article 19, which grants us our fundamental rights, while granting us our right to speech, expression, and assembly circumscribes it with the following: "Nothing...shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of ... public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence."
So, essentially, while you have your right to speech and expression, nothing will prevent the government from banning a book you write, from arresting you for a speech you make, or from subjecting you to a trial by fire like so many movie makers found, recent examples being the book on Shivaji by John Laine, and the movie "Rang de basanti".
While criticizing the law, lets not forget that the law has not evolved in isolation. It is our feudal attitudes that have allowed such a law to be born and be used. When we cheered the burning of MF Hussain's paintings, banning of the "Satanic Verses", stoning of the theatres showing "Fire" and "Water", we hit another nail in the coffin of free expression. Each such move, supported by some section of the population has only emboldened the State to further challenge the citizen's right to expression. So, the next time you hear someone advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing, take a deep breath, and walk away. And thank god, warts and all, that this country still lets you do that.