“CNN Anchor Chris Cuomo “Says Constitution Doesn’t Protect Hate Speech, Try Reading It. Okay, Let’s Do That,” Robby Soave writes at Reason:
This was in response to the shooting outside Pamela Geller’s “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest event in Garland, Texas. According to Cuomo, Geller and her ilk might not have a First Amendment right to express anti-Muslim speech deemed hateful—it says so, right there in the Constitution, if we would bother to read it.
Okay, let’s take Cuomo’s challenge. Let’s read the speech part of the Constitution. (I hope this doesn’t take too long; I hate reading.) Oh, good, the speech stuff is right there at the beginning of the “things you can do” section:
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.
My copy of the Constitution seems to be missing this fabled “except hate speech, none of that” clause.
As it turns out, the Supreme Court has consistently interpreted the First Amendment to protect all kinds of odious speech, including speech perceived to be hateful. Constitutional speech protections wouldn’t be very strong if they did not include hate speech, since one person’s statement of hate is another’s statement of truth. “George Bush is a war criminal” might be construed as a hateful statement if you’re George Bush, after all.
Peter Wehner of Commentary pens a very Obama-esque description of the CNN anchor:
Chris Cuomo is a man who thinks he’s much smarter than he is, who is clearly not nearly as widely read as he pretends, and who possesses what looks to be a perfectly dogmatic mind, closed to any evidence that challenges his suppositions. He is both unusually ignorant and unusually arrogant. Those are unfortunate qualities for anyone to possess; they are particularly unfortunate to see in a public figure, where his ignorance can be exposed on quite a large stage.
Wehner adds that when confronted by those like Robby Soave of Reason, who did read the Constitution, Cuomo simply lied: “No, no, no, Cuomo argues; he didn’t mean read the Constitution (although that’s what he wrote); he meant read case law. Of course he did.”
Which brings us to Allahpundit at Hot Air, who notes that Cuomo is replying on “the ‘Chaplinsky test,’ a.k.a. the ‘fighting words’ doctrine:”
He’s eating crap from righties and lefties alike as I write this for reading too much into what the Chaplinsky decision allows. That’s the case, handed down by the Supreme Court in 1942, that says the First Amendment doesn’t protect words “which, by their very utterance, inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.” Over time federal courts have narrowed that ruling to make clear that it only applies, in Ken White’s words, to “face-to-face insults that would provoke an immediate violent reaction from a reasonable person.” In other words, says Instapundit, a “personal invitation to brawl.” All true, but it’s painfully easy to move from that standard to a standard in which “hateful” speech qualifies as “fighting words” whether or not it’s uttered face to face, whether or not the violent reaction is immediate, and whether or not a reasonable person from the “majority” might object to it. Pam Geller’s Mohammed cartoon contest is a perfect example. That was a private event, not a face-to-face demonstration in front of a group of Muslims; most Americans would say that cartoons of any figure, no matter how insulting, don’t justify a violent response; and there was no reason to expect that the violent reaction, if it came, would be an immediate attack on the event itself rather than a plot to target Geller or her allies later. It should fail the Chaplinsky test easily. (And Cuomo, in fairness, isn’t saying otherwise.)
Read the whole thing for a chilling look at where lefties such as Cuomo and his ilk could eventually gut the First Amendment into meaninglessness.
In the meantime though, Googling “Chris Cuomo” and “Charlie Hebdo” quickly brings up the classic moment in January when Cuomo described black French terrorists as “African-American” on the air at CNN, just to give you a sense of the steel-trap mind we’re dealing with here.
And finally, an Allahpundit-esque exit question from Glenn Reynolds: “Will any journos ask Andrew Cuomo if he shares Chris’s view of free speech?” Or Hillary.
Reading Allahpundit’s post, it seems obvious what Democrat politicians really do think about the topic in their socialist heart of hearts, but it would useful to get them on the record alongside Chris Cuomo and many of their other operatives with bylines this week.