Monday, July 2, 2012

Stolen Valor: There’s a Difference between Legal and Moral

While much of the national media focusses on the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare, the Supreme Court handed down another ruling that angered many Veterans.
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court declared that the “Stolen Valor Act”, which made it illegal to wear or claim to have won military ribbons or medals that were not earned, violated the First Amendment’s free speech clause—in essence, the right to lie.
In many judgments, the justices criticized the broad nature of the law and not addressing those who reap material benefit from lying about their military service.
The Supreme Court has a lengthy history of airing on the side of free speech during First Amendment cases. As a general statement, one has to prove that some grave physical or psychological injury has occurred as a result of a speech act.
The Court made waves last year in Snyder v. Phelps when it ruled that controversial Kansas pastor Fred Phelps could picket the funerals of fallen service members with anti-abortion and anti-gay signs that may be deemed offensive.
The rationale was essentially that we cannot restrict freedom of speech simply because the majority find it distasteful. Such behavior could amount to censorship of unpopular minority opinions, the justices reasoned.
The case of the Stolen Valor law follows similar principles.
With that said, just because the Supreme Court declared that lying about military service and/or honors received is legal, does not make it morally acceptable.
Thousands of men and women have come back from war with physical and psychological injuries. Thousands more are resting in graveyards throughout this country, forever alive in the memories they left behind.
 Lying about military service because it makes you a big shot is morally reprehensible and spits in the face of the thousands of soldiers who have served and died, just so pieces of crap like you can have the privilege of lying about it. Just doesn’t seem right.

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