Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pinnochio would be so proud.

A federal law making it a crime to lie about receiving the Medal of Honor or other military decorations violates freedom of speech, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Although a Southern California water board member convicted of violating the Stolen Valor Act made “deliberate and despicable” claims that he had received the Medal of Honor, the Constitution prohibits the government from prosecuting someone for merely lying, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said in a 2-1 ruling.

“The right to speak and write whatever one chooses - including, to some degree, worthless, offensive and demonstrable untruths - without cowering in fear of a powerful government is, in our view, an essential component of the protection afforded by the First Amendment,” Judge Milan Smith said in the majority opinion.
(Emphasis added)

Now apply the same thing when speaking to the police--it's called obstruction.  Or try lying to a Judge--that's called perjury, or at the very least, contempt.

I think the Stolen  Valor Act dodo go to far.  I agree with the judges that speech, in and of itself, should not be prohibited.  However, making false claims about service, awards, and sacrifice for any gain, material, monetary, or otherwise, is fraud.  If someone running for office makes claims of valor, then that person has lied to the public before even being elected, and should be banned from ever holding any job in the public trust.  If a person makes claims of valor for any reason whereby the person receives ANY benefit, that person should be prosecuted for frad, with the maximum possible punishment. 

The punishment for fraud should also be increased to a mandatory minimum of three years, and in the case of violating the public trust, ten years in a federal supermax prison, where they can spin their lies to the walls and cockroaches.  In the case of people who make claims of valor and then defraud the government (i.e. the people) and receive benefits from the VA, the mandatory minimum should be life imprisonment.  These people are literally stealing from those who have sacrificed everything for their nation and the people, taking resources, time, and money from Veterans in an already overburdened and underfunded system.


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