GP never said anything about the US being a paragon of free speech protections.
Well, somebody should have said it — and I applaud you for saying it fairly well. Thank you.
The US is a paragon of free speech — not because there is no room for improvement, but because all (certainly most) other societies are worse in this regard. And though various Illiberals do come up from time to time with seductively-sounding proposals to ban "hate" speech, and even claim, the Constitution is outdated and "people can’t really protest like that anymore", the prevailing opinion remains, that any speech should be allowed and countered only with one's own speech.
Back to the question about UK, that country is certainly sliding farther away from liberty — along with the rest of the Western world. When a fatwa was issued calling for death of Salman Rushdie, for example, over his insulting Islam in an otherwise unremarkable book, the man received police protection and other support from his government. Nobody — except, maybe, that valiant Illiberal Jimmie Carter — blamed the victim for "deserving" the danger.
Years later, reaction to Mohammed-mocking cartoons is rather more mixed. And while it is still legal to burn American flag, if you decide to burn Koran, everybody from local to federal authorities will be on your case pressuring you to abandon your exercise of free speech.