or punished in any way for it.
The USA may pride itself on freedom from federal limitations on speech, but this does not mean that individual states do not themselves have laws which limit this. Blasphemy laws are still on the books in some states, for example, although it is vanishingly unlikely that they would ever be used.
More significantly though, the USA has a far-reaching and expensive civil legal system. Many well-heeled companies or individuals use threats of legal action, or actual legal action, as a tool for imposing their will on others and suppressing their freedom of speech and freedom to do business. Donald Trump is a prominent user of this tactic. (I trust I don't have to provide citations for this, but I'll list the Stormy Daniels case as one example amongst many.)
The problem is significant enough that the USA instituted anti-SLAPP laws. However even these are expensive to apply. Snopes has had well-publicised issues in this regard, for one recent example.
This does raise the question of what you consider to be "punished". Certainly your chances of being thrown in jail are low. However your chances of losing your job, life savings, house, company or other assets are not so low, and you have essentially no chance to defend yourself legally against a much richer litigant. This could be regarded as at least as serious as anything the state could do.