Anyone who would deliberately lie about citations, awards, or medals earned is a loser who has to rely on the efforts of others to feel better about themselves. Thats a sad way to live a life. I'm not sure if they deserve pity or contempt.
"Stolen Valor" law under attack
With nothing much held sacred anymore, you knew this had to come:
The federal courts are wrestling with a question of both liberty and patriotism:
Does the First Amendment right to free speech protect people who lie about being war heroes?
At issue is a three-year-old federal law called the Stolen Valor Act that makes it a crime punishable by up to a year in jail to falsely claim to have received a medal from the U.S. military. It is a crime even if the liar makes no effort to profit from his stolen glory.
Attorneys in Colorado and California are challenging the law on behalf of two men charged, saying the First Amendment protects almost all speech that doesn't hurt someone else.
Neither man has been accused by prosecutors of seeking financial gain for himself.
Maybe I misunderstand the intent of the First Amendment, but I've always been under the impression that it protected political speech; i.e. Congress could make no law which stifled or prohibited political speech. The idea was to prevent the sitting government from essentially outlawing the speech of those who didn't agree with it.
So how is lying about a medal "political speech"? And why should a lie be protected anyway? Of course, it shouldn't.
So let's trivialize the offense and exaggerate the "problem" shall we?
Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School who is not involved in the two cases, said the Stolen Valor Act raises serious constitutional questions because it in effect bans bragging or exaggerating about yourself.
"Half the pickup lines in bars across the country could be criminalized under that concept," he said.
For heaven sake, this isn't about "pickup lines in a bar". This is about mooks like the guy just busted in Houston parading around as a Army BG. It is about those that use and feed off of the valor, honor and respect of others who've earned medals to advance their own pathetic lives.
Defense attorneys say the law is problematic in the way it does not require the lie to be part of a scheme for gain. Turley said someone lying about having a medal to profit financially should instead be charged with fraud.
So it is only "fraud" if they profit financially?
Is it legal to pretend you're a doctor? A lawyer? Even if you don't profit financially?
Of course not.
It's as much a fraud as what defense attorney's are trying to wave off here. And so is impersonating an officer, or NCO or any member of the military. It isn't just about financial profit. It's also about theft. These people attempt to steal what someone else has earned for their own purposes.
That's the case with any lie - it has a purpose or there's no reason for it to be told in the first place. MOH awardee Pete Lemon notes that claiming to be what you aren't can bring "undeserved rewards": "It gives you the power to entice somebody into marriage," he said. "It could give you the power to be able to join an organization, get special treatment with regards to getting tickets to a football game, getting license plates, getting preferential treatment in a job situation."
As for the attempt at a First Amendment defense, presidential historian Doug Sterner points out that our first president, George Washington, saw no First Amendment defense for imposters: Sterner noted that Washington created the Purple Heart, the nation's first military decoration, and wrote: "Should any who are not entitled to these honors have the insolence to assume the badges of them, they shall be severely punished."
"I think that speaks to the intent of the framers," Sterner said, "that George Washington saw this kind of lie outside the scope of this freedom-of-speech issue."
Keep an eye on this. If successful, an appeal will be necessary and the milblog community (and the whole blogging world) needs to get behind any such effort. The "Stolen Valor" act is both necessary and, at least in my opinion, constitutional, and if it should be successfully challenged, it is not a law we should let be discarded over false charges of prohibiting "free speech".