We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The Stolen Valor Act, which some judges say abridges free speech, will end up before the Supreme Court. Here's the latest case of "free speech". The Denver Post reporter who previously, in her words, "was duped" by the false claims, reports:
Kevin Grimsinger came forward this summer as a special forces veteran who had lost parts of his legs in Operation Enduring Freedom. I wrote about him in July when he led the movement in Colorado to qualify veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder for medical marijuana.
As it turns out, the double-amputee didn't serve in Afghanistan and wasn't injured by a land mine, as he claimed. Records show his military service ended a decade before he said he was hurt fighting in Kandahar in 2001.
He was, in fact, paralyzed as a civilian in a crash on a mountain road in Southern California where, as he now tells it, he was trying to kill himself....
For his aunt in Northglenn — the first to speak out about his history — it's a classic case of stolen valor.
"It's not right that he's living his life pretending to be some kind of war hero," said Linda DeBruyn, whose husband and son are war veterans....
Slingers, as the 42-year-old likes to call himself, moved to Denver some time around 2003. He since has misrepresented himself to the Denver Mayor's office, which appointed him to a special commission. He pulled one over on state lawmakers when testifying earlier this year. And he hoodwinked medical-marijuana advocates who were all too eager to wheel him forward as a valorous poster guy.
He has misled about 200 people participating in a veterans outreach program he runs at Budding Health, a pot dispensary in Denver. Most folks there and at VFW Post 1 — where Grimsinger was a quartermaster — know him as the guy whose legs were blown off in Afghanistan.
"Holy crap. Holy crap," VFW commander Izzy Abbass said when learning Grimsinger's history. "This just detracts from what everybody else endured and suffered."
Hey, judges, no harm done, huh. Influencing legislation, being appointed to a government commission, misleading veterans in need of help, no big thing. How about impersonating judges? Would that count?
The notion that anybody's behavior detracts from the sacrifices and accomplishments of others is completely wrong. It implies a right to be offended when the truth is that we choose whether to be offended and are better people when we instead choose to ignore those we find offensive.
I do believe that Grimsinger should suffer legal consequences for falsely representing himself and I suspect that there have long been laws that can be applied in his case. To allow his poor behavior to justify yet another preemptive law that might easily be abused is simply not the correct answer. It's not the American way as I understand it, either.
I don't believe there are any existing laws for civilians posing as heroes. Falsely wearing decorations while on active duty is punishable under the UCMJ and defrauding the VA would be a federal crime,but if he's not active he can probably skate.
Jug Burkett's book "Stolen Valor" documents how prevalent this stuff is including Dan Rather, Senator Tom Harkin and others.
A fitting punishment might be to put the offenders in stocks and throw tomatoes at them.
There are laws against impersonating police officers and against practicing medicine without a license to name two laws that are similiar to the Stolen Valor Act. Protection of a body of practical knowledge and its practice is common in laws and regulations. Its the reason there are so many professional licensing regulations on the books. The "judge" forgets his own Bar as his protection for practicing law. Protecting the Honor or awards be they degrees, or medals is a proper use of the law. JP
This only illustrates the general level of ignorance displayed by the Supremes. Having never placed themselves anywhere near a point of ultimate responsibility, meaning loss of life, they have no real idea of the concept and what meaning it has to those who have dealt with that eventually.
And yes, some will come back with the Supremes being the locus of the third of the triad that holds us together. That's bullshit, too, in my opinion. Most, if not the huge majority of our leaders, have no concept of 'real' life. Especially a life as lived by our military.
There are 2 things here:
1) making up tall tales about military exploits, which should be protected speech under the 1st ammendment
2) fraudulently representing yourself to gain public office, jobs, money, benefits, whatever, which should (and is except for politicians and lawyers who just make up the rules as they go along to suit themselves) a crime already for which free speech rights don't have to be cut off at the knee.
Is calling yourself a war hero when you're not distasteful? Yes.
Should it be a crime? Not in itself.
Should it be a crime to lie in order to gain public office, grants, contracts? Yes, and it already is.
No, it usually isn't.
Professions or political appointive bodies may sometimes be able to remove someone who is a fraud, and there may be some laws for practicing without a license.
But, misrepresenting oneself to influence legislation or to gain undeserved honors generally does not have restrictive laws.
In the case of those claiming medals of valor, the DOD does not have, and resists having, a comprehensive listing that the public, VA or government bodies can use to check. See http://maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com/archives/12479-Hollywood-cares-more-for-its-vets-honors-than-the-Defense-Department.html
This is not "free speech", which is why the Congress by unanimous acclamation set the Stolen Valor Act to provide for penalties. But, so far, Congress has not moved on the comprehensive listing to enable exposing such frauds. Even then, however, shaming may come too late to avoid the damages done by false claims to heroism.