Does the government have the right to prohibit real or imagined lies,even when no fraud is involved?

RRD:The Stolen Valor act signed into law by George W.Bush,makes it a crime to falsely claim that you served in the military.Apparently this is the case even if no fraud (financial gain) was involved and even if it is not for the purpose of espionage or sabotage.

While I find these liars despicable,I find many things despicable,the fact that I regard something as despicable does not mean that the government should prohibit it,or that it has the right to do so.

The case is coming before the Supreme Court.Alvarez is the name of the person challenging the law(he is one of those who boasted of medals they have not earned).

Stolen Valor is Offensive, But Is It A Crime? « JONATHAN TURLEY

”The federal court of appeals in San Francisco ruled in his favor in two separate opinions. Now the case will go to the Supreme Court, where the Obama administration will argue that the First Amendment does not protect lies as it does true statements.

Under this logic, Congress would be able to criminalize statements solely because they are lies, alleging some type of amorphous social harm. ”….

RRD:I am not a lawyer & have not read the briefs,but if Mr.Turley is correct then this has ramifications that go far beyond whether someone can falsely claim to be soldier.
What is equally bizarre is the contention of some of the bill’s supporters that men who risk death(or die)do so for the sake of medals.A claim that flies in the face of the overt statements of many medal awardees.

….”Supporters of the bill insist that prosecutions are needed to maintain the value and dignity of our military citations.The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation has taken this argument one step further in its amicus brief to the Supreme Court. It says these medals are not just recognitions of heroism but the very inducement for heroism. It chastised the federal court for its “lack of appreciation” when the court said it was insulting to suggest that heroes are motivated by the desire for medals. The foundation insisted that heroes do seek these medals in risking their lives, curiously citing the tradition of Roman generals giving spears and cups to soldiers who distinguished themselves in battle.”….

RRD:First I agree that it is unjust and insulting for those who have not earned these medals to claim to have won them it is no more so than to write editorials that insult our soldiers and denounce them as rapists and murderers,something which I believe is protected speech and should remain protected speech.
Second while it is certainly true that men–particularly young men– often join the military with visions of “glory” in their heads,such notions are quickly disabused by military service.

There is heroism in military service,there is nobility,but there is little of the green recruit’s vision of “glory”.And if you have reached the point where you are worthy of receiving a medal you most likely have more pressing things on your mind then medals:things like keeping your bleeding friends alive,while holding off the enemy.

This is harrowing and nightmarish.

It is not some kind of game show where people win prizes.

Most likely the soldier wishes that he had never been put in that kind of nightmarish position.

We give medals because it is just and right to honor the service and valor of men,not because such valor would not exist without the medals.

In fairness to the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation
,perhaps they knew that this argument made no sense,but wanted to “cover all the bases” to ensure that the bill is upheld,and were motivated by concern for the memory of the dead and living awardees.

A previous post by Mr.Turley is below.

The Better Part of Valor: Should Lying About Medals Be A Crime? « JONATHAN TURLEY


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Filed under Free Speech, GWOT, Law, Politics, US National Security

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