The latest newscasts have included stories about the Supreme Court accepting a review of an Appeals Court ruling that the Stolen Valor Act was unconstitutional. That court had ruled a law making it a crime to lie about receiving military medals was unconstitutional because it violated an individual's First Amendment right to free speech.
During my 26-year Marine Corps career, I had the privilege of knowing numerous people in the armed forces who had received the recognition of their country for acts of valor or meritorious service. Though all were exceptional individuals, almost to the man they discounted their acts of courage as "just doing their duty."
For any person to falsely wear the uniform, rank and decorations of those who dedicated their lives to the service of their country is so despicable an act that there are not sufficient words to express how repugnant it is to any who have served with honor. Should the perpetrator of such misdeeds be allowed to publicly flaunt his false heroism without condemnation and physical punishment would be a permanent insult to the thousands upon thousands of American heroes who have truly been worthy of our continued praise.
It is interesting to note that members of Congress or any individual seeking public office can lie to the American people early and often. He or she can make claims, promises, state facts, and figures, make accusatory statements about opponents...and see nothing wrong with such actions. Even the President of the United States, regardless of political party, has been shown to repeatedly lie to the American people when he thought the lie would serve his position better than speaking the truth. These actions also, according the Appeals Court, would all be acceptable under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. That understanding of the document seems very strange to me. Nowhere do I read that we have the right to lie.
By the same logic, Congress does not believe we have the right to lie to that regal body. If anyone is found to have lied to Congress they have committed a crime and are punished under the law.
Is there a special law for politicians and fake military heroes? Are these individuals, none of whom are held in very high esteem, all given license to do what the average American can never do without facing some form of punishment? Lie in court and you are charged with perjury. Lie to the police and you can be charged with impeding law enforcement. Lie to Congress and they will attempt to strap you to the rack.
But, the other side of the coin allows the political elite to lie to America about anything and everything without fear of retribution. Now we can add to that list former servicemen who served dishonorably or without distinction and pretenders who never served their country for a single day of their lives...all lining up to wear the stolen valor of those who lived, fought and often died courageously in defense of the nation. According to our own justice system they can lie with impunity and claim as their own heroic acts they never engaged in or even witnessed. They can reap the rewards of true heroes and bask in glory they will never deserve...so says the court.
Supreme Court...You had better make this right!
Thomas D. Segel