In a novella-esque, 2,828-word diatribe, outgoing National Public Radio ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos has casually suggested that he has no earthly idea about how or why the First Amendment protects speech.
In the screed, published last week, NPR’s official public advocate gushed a river of words explaining his views on the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris last month. During that attack, two radical Muslim immigrants massacred 12 people over political and religious satire.
“I do not know if American courts would find much of what Charlie Hebdo does to be hate speech unprotected by the Constitution,” Schumacher-Matos explained.
He then flatly stated that he hopes “most Americans” believe satire that angers lunatic Muslims is “hate speech unprotected by the Constitution.”
“It is one thing to lampoon popes, imams, rabbis and other temporal religious leaders of this world; it is quite another to make fun, in often nasty ways, of their prophets and gods,” Schumacher-Matos instructs.
The retiring ombudsman also observes that NPR is “a public media that receives some 11 percent of its funding indirectly from the government.” Thus, the multimillion-dollar media conglomerate “cannot be partisan or have a declared bias.”
As Competitive Enterprise Institute attorney Hans Bader notes at Examiner.com, Schumacher-Matos has a shockingly shallow, stupid and unsophisticated understanding of the First Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court’s free speech doctrine.
The NPR ombudsman does not appear to know about or understand, for example, that in Joseph Burstyn, Inc v. Wilson, a 1952 case, the Supreme Court ruled that blasphemy laws are blatantly unconstitutional.
“It is not the business of government in our nation to suppress real or imagined attacks upon a particular religious doctrine, whether they appear in publications, speeches, or motion pictures,” Justice Tom C. Clark, a Truman appointee, wrote for the 9-0 majority.
Since then, the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that governments in the United States shall make no law prohibiting “hate speech.”
Snyder v. Phelps (2011) protected disgusting, bigoted speech at a funeral, for example. R.A.V. v. St. Paul (1992) invalidated a “hate-speech” law in Minnesota. Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (also 1992) mandated that racists can’t be charged higher administrative fees. Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) protected racist Ku Klux Klan speech.
It’s also worth noting that French law does prohibit “hate speech” but French courts have found that Charlie Hebdo did not engage in “hate speech” as that concept is defined in France.
Schumacher-Matos, who likes himself on Facebook, also indicated that he is concerned about “the rise of advocacy journalism, such as talk radio, Fox News, MSNBC, Huffington Post and a plethora of web sites.”