Curt Schilling Suspended For Offensive Tweet, Were His Free Speech Rights Violated?

ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling was suspended from his job covering the Little League World Series this week after the former Major League pitcher posted an offensive tweet, CNN is reporting.

Schilling deleted the tweet about ten minutes after posting it, but not before Twitter users will able to capture screenshots. Schilling’s tweet, which won’t be published in this post (you can see it here, via The Blaze, if you’d like), shows Adolf Hitler doing a Nazi salute, while the words “It’s said that only 5-10% of Muslims are extremists. In 1940, only 7 percent of Germans were Nazis. How’d that go?” Schilling himself captioned his tweet:

“The math is staggering when you get to true #’s.”

Almost immediately, the tweet began drawing criticism.

NOTE: @gehrig38 is Curt Schilling’s Twitter handle.

Later Tuesday, Schilling’s bosses at ESPN got wind of the tweet, and issued a statement that Schilling was being suspended from the Little League World Series because of it.

“Curt’s tweet was completely unacceptable, and in no way represents our company’s perspective. We made that point very strongly to Curt and have removed him from his current Little League assignment pending further consideration.”

For his part, Schilling admitted to questionable decision-making in posting the tweet, and seemed to agree with his bosses that his punishment was appropriate.

As CNN writer Dean Obeidallah notes, Schilling’s suspension for saying what was on his mind raises issues related to free speech — however, he’s quick to point out the Constitutional free speech right guaranteed by the First Amendment applies only to the government, and not to private employers. That is, the government cannot punish you for posting an offensive tweet; your boss, however, can.

“But your boss can make any rule he or she wants about your freedom of speech. If they no longer want to be associated with you after you make hateful comments about blacks, Jews, gays, etc., they have that right.”

The 48-year-old Schilling is politically and socially conservative, and has used Twitter before to advocate his views; in 2014, he raised eyebrows by debating evolution on Twitter.

As of this post, it is not clear when Curt Schilling will return to his job at ESPN.

[Image courtesy of: Getty Images/Jared Wickerham]