What is Honor Anyway?

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Today Virginia we will talk about a forgotten word: Honor

Over at the FirstAmendmentCenter.org there is a piece on a recent challenge to the federal law criminalizing false assumption of military honors, namely medals awarded for combat.  It seems that in this day and age no one can quite figure out just why it is not a form of free speech to claim falsely to have won the Medal of Honor.

“2 men challenge federal law barring lies about military medals
By The Associated Press
02.09.10

DENVER — 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 3-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 US. . 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 who have been charged with the violating the law, 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.”

And that last bit is the crux of the whole matter; not for financial gain.  But a recipient of a Purple Heart and a Silver Star does not just have a shiny piece of metal that can be used to get a free airline upgrade.  The honored members of our military that have been awarded medals possess the collective gratitude and respect of the Nation.  They have been awarded a sort of diploma or “Letter of Confidence” declaring them to have EARNED that status in the eyes of the law.

“Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School who is not involved in the two cases, says 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.”

Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School can kiss my ass.  Pardon me, I mean he can kiss George Washington’s ass.  Is it just bragging to claim to be a brain surgeon if there is no prospect of someone asking you to perform surgery and you make no money?  Only someone who feels they are given for worthless service could believe so, in my humble opinion.

“The Stolen Valor Act revised and toughened a law that forbids anyone to wear a military medal that was not earned. The revised measure sailed through Congress in late 2006, receiving unanimous approval in the Senate.

Dozens of people have been arrested under the law at a time when veterans coming home from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are being embraced as heroes. Many of the cases involve men who simply got caught living a lie without profiting from it. Virtually all the impostors were ordered to perform community service.”

The key phrase above is “embraced as war heroes”.  Nothing more need be said. Anyone identifying themselves as a holder of a Purple Heart, let alone the Medal of Honor is given a MANTLE OF HONOR that all who are aware of will react to; MOST people, even citizens of other nations, will react with an automatic goodwill and benefit-of-the-doubt respect toward these people. 

“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.

One of the men challenging the law is Xavier Alvarez of Pomona, Ca. He had just been elected to a water-district board in 2007 when he said at a public meeting that he was a retired Marine who received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration.”

I would say that it is the defense attorneys lack of military service that it the “problematic” issue here.  They are unable to see that in cases like Mr.. Alvarez from my neighboring city of Pomona that if he had gotten away with it, EVERYTHING he did after that would have carried that patina of honor, an honor that was not his but belonged to the nation. 

Hey Prof. Turley, how about if you look at it this way, suppose someone lied about having saved your daughter from being raped and murdered, do you think that even if they did not get a penny from you they might have stolen something precious?  Imagine telling others about your new friend, imagine letting little “problems” go by because of his past “actions”.  Are you starting to get it now? 

In selling a business the goodwill of the customers is often a part of the package offered.  If the former owner messes things up at the last moment and makes the customers angry the new owner can recover part of the cost. 

“The other person challenging the law is Rick Glen Strandlof, who claimed he was an ex-Marine wounded in Iraq and had received the Purple Heart and Silver Star medals. He founded an organization in Colorado Springs that helped homeless veterans. Military officials said they had no record that he ever served. He has pleaded not guilty, and a judge is considering whether to throw out the charge….

Attorneys challenging the law say that lying about getting a medal doesn’t fit any of the categories of speech that the U.S. Supreme Court has said can be banned: lewd, obscene, profane, libelous or creating imminent danger to others, such as yelling fire in a crowded theater…

Army veteran Pete Lemon of Colorado Springs, who received the Medal of Honor for turning back an enemy assault and rescuing wounded comrades in Vietnam while injured himself, supports the law, saying that pretending to have a medal can bring undeserved rewards.”

Helping homeless vets is a good thing but, this man is the one who would be making his living from the money collected, money that would flow a lot easier with his pretended credentials.  This is about as close as you can get to someone practicing medicine without a license as you can get.  Who would not feel that such a medal winner would not be the best person to relate to troubled vets? Instead they got a wannabe who had no idea what they had been through or needed.

The sad part though are the lawyers who are too greedy or too soul-dead to get it.  More monkey motion while the Gremlins of Roman prepare the matches.

 

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4 Responses to What is Honor Anyway?

  1. Will says:

    Hi.
    Really nice poem you left at Pamela.
    Great!
    Will.

  2. sraschmitt says:

    Only comment I have is that those who receive medals are not "winners", they are "recipients". "Winner" implies that the military decoration system is a contest.

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