Posted by: Amy | June 30, 2012

Liars and Free Speech

You have the right to be an asshole, according to the United States Supreme Court.

Spurred by accounts of people claiming they were heroes, in 2005 Congress made it illegal to lie about receiving military honors. In United States v. Alvarez, the Justices ruled 6-3 that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment right to free speech.

There’s nothing arguable about the intent of the Stolen Valor Act. Congress wanted to preserve the dignity of the awards and the recipients. Medals, badges, crosses and stars are not pinned to military uniforms for aesthetic reasons. They are symbols of service and sacrifice.

To go around lying about your military honors is deplorable and reprehensible to many. But it’s protected speech. In the majority opinion, Justice that restrictions on speech include “incitement, obscenity, defamation, speech integral to criminal conduct, so-called ‘fighting words,’ child pornography and speech presenting grave and imminent threat the Government has the power to prevent.” Lying about one’s military record doesn’t fall under these categories.

If you falsely claim you are the recipient of the Purple Heart, you are guilty of being tacky. Nothing more. We may not like it when someone from the Ku Klux Klan spouts racist hate, and we may get upset when a friend on Facebook writes what you consider questionable or offensive status posts. They have that right. And we have the right to engage in debate or ignore it.

One of my best friends is a decorated Marine. He doesn’t brag about his military achievements, which includes the Purple Heart and several crosses. He always said he was just doing his job. I wish I could ask him what he thinks about this case, but I’ve lost touch with him. He’s on the streets and I don’t know how to find him. I wish Congress would do something to help him and other homeless war veterans, instead of getting upset over a few idiots who feel the need to lie about themselves.

But as my friend would probably smile, shake his head and say, “Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one.”

I miss you, Earl.



  1. Thank you so much for your understanding that there are times we have to live outside of ourselves to make it; if I were to live all inside of me, wouldn’t make a day :)! Best, Rebecca Meunier

    • Thank you, Rebecca.

      • Cheers Amy :)!

      • You’re very welcome, Amy! All the best, Rebecca 🙂

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