I agree that a lot of the time, especially in games and forums things can get out of hand. There are many people who post rants that deal with hate, whether it be racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. and put it under the guise of 'free speech'.
Kathy Sierra, a blogger who is well known in the blogging community, was recieving death threats and harrassment on other sites. It seems, that with the advent of the internet, people are often abusing the right of free speech by confusing it with being able to say any hateful/ignorant thing they want. Especially since there's a level of anonymity to it.
As Tim O'Reilly says in this article, "frankness does not have to mean lack of civility. There's no reason why we should tolerate conversations online that we wouldn't tolerate in our living room."