The right to lie about your accomplishments?

Though easily overlooked in all the discussion about the health care decision, the Supreme Court is announcing its decision in other cases today, as well. Perhaps most interesting is United States v. Alvarez, in which the issue is (as summarized by SCOTUSblog):

Whether a federal law that makes it a crime to lie about receiving military medals or honors violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to free speech.

I assume we all agree that it is morally wrong for a person to lie about what honors they have received. The question is: should this moral failing also be criminalized? And, perhaps an even more important question is: why or why not? What criteria must a moral failing meet in order to merit criminalization?

  • Jack

    One thing to look at when attempting to criminalize something is how the law is to be enforced, including who is to enforce it. Why is enforcement of a law even necessary, in this instance?

    All military personnel are given citations for any medals that they may receive. Military personnel receive separation papers when leaving the service. These papers include any medals the person received.

    Maybe all that needs to be done is to have folks prove their claims whenever they’re telling their stories. Anyone who has received military honors will be willing to provide the proof. The proof can be verified.

    Make the claimant provide proof. Verify the proof.

    Law enforcement has enough to do without having to do what a potential employer, the media, etc could have done by simply verifying documentation provided by the person claiming military honors.

  • Jack

    One thing to look at when attempting to criminalize something is how the law is to be enforced, including who is to enforce it. Why is enforcement of a law even necessary, in this instance?

    All military personnel are given citations for any medals that they may receive. Military personnel receive separation papers when leaving the service. These papers include any medals the person received.

    Maybe all that needs to be done is to have folks prove their claims whenever they’re telling their stories. Anyone who has received military honors will be willing to provide the proof. The proof can be verified.

    Make the claimant provide proof. Verify the proof.

    Law enforcement has enough to do without having to do what a potential employer, the media, etc could have done by simply verifying documentation provided by the person claiming military honors.

  • Jack

    “Right To Lie”?

    Funny, but when I was a kid, many, many, many years ago, I was taught, in public school, that my rights end where your rights begin.

  • Jack

    “Right To Lie”?

    Funny, but when I was a kid, many, many, many years ago, I was taught, in public school, that my rights end where your rights begin.

  • fws

    Jack @ 2

    That is true Jack. But in courts of law this is not always an easy thing to decide.

    Environmental cases for example. Does an industry have a “right” to even slightly dirty the air? Or do you by burning leaves or running your car? Where do my “rights” begin there,

    Maybe that is the problem? We assume the enlightenment axioms that center around that wierd concept called “rights” or even “God given inalienable rights”.

    I suggest that the more useful concept, and the one used in the Bible and Scriptures is the idea of “ownership”.
    Ownership is what Justice is all about.
    Who “owns” either punishment or reward.
    Who “owns” either a right or an obligation.

    This assumes that rights simply are. Like all property. As are responsibilities. And Justice is simply to identify whom the right and related responsibilities. legal burden, etc belongs to.

    If one treats the “rights” of the religious and homosexuals absolutely identically in society, then lots of answers as to who has what right and how far it extends become very clear , very quickly.
    Try it!

    And then the question of whether gay is like a racial characteristic or is rather a choice like a religion is, becomes very moot. Those arguments simply no longer matter.

    It simply doesnt matter in deciding who gets to order whom about and to what extent rights should be extended or withheld by a referendum. Issues of morality and how far religious acts are permitted by society are also resolved with remarkable clarity.

    By licensing a mormon church for example, making it legal, we are condoning sin, and we are legitimizing the worst kind of sinning. The kind that damns eternally. Yet we do it. We even give such a group preferential treatment and special status! This is not just acceptance. It is embracing them. Why is that the right thing to do? I agree it is right. But there are many valid arguments to the contrary. Rome says that error has no rights. And they are right. and yet…. This justified the inquisition etc.

    But where are the limits as to what those Mormons are allowed to DO? There must be those limits as well.

  • fws

    Jack @ 2

    That is true Jack. But in courts of law this is not always an easy thing to decide.

    Environmental cases for example. Does an industry have a “right” to even slightly dirty the air? Or do you by burning leaves or running your car? Where do my “rights” begin there,

    Maybe that is the problem? We assume the enlightenment axioms that center around that wierd concept called “rights” or even “God given inalienable rights”.

    I suggest that the more useful concept, and the one used in the Bible and Scriptures is the idea of “ownership”.
    Ownership is what Justice is all about.
    Who “owns” either punishment or reward.
    Who “owns” either a right or an obligation.

    This assumes that rights simply are. Like all property. As are responsibilities. And Justice is simply to identify whom the right and related responsibilities. legal burden, etc belongs to.

    If one treats the “rights” of the religious and homosexuals absolutely identically in society, then lots of answers as to who has what right and how far it extends become very clear , very quickly.
    Try it!

    And then the question of whether gay is like a racial characteristic or is rather a choice like a religion is, becomes very moot. Those arguments simply no longer matter.

    It simply doesnt matter in deciding who gets to order whom about and to what extent rights should be extended or withheld by a referendum. Issues of morality and how far religious acts are permitted by society are also resolved with remarkable clarity.

    By licensing a mormon church for example, making it legal, we are condoning sin, and we are legitimizing the worst kind of sinning. The kind that damns eternally. Yet we do it. We even give such a group preferential treatment and special status! This is not just acceptance. It is embracing them. Why is that the right thing to do? I agree it is right. But there are many valid arguments to the contrary. Rome says that error has no rights. And they are right. and yet…. This justified the inquisition etc.

    But where are the limits as to what those Mormons are allowed to DO? There must be those limits as well.

  • Jack

    Let’s not be confused, and let’s not confuse things.

    A Morman, in this country has every right to practice his faith, just as I have every right to practice my faith as an Evanjelical Lutheran. Isn’t our country founded on this very premis?

    Folks are, certainly welcome to their opinions. Let us not, though confuse opinion with law.

    One”s son is in need of intricate heart surgery. The very best heart surgeon in the land is a Mormon. Does one have the very best surgeon operate on his son?

  • Jack

    Let’s not be confused, and let’s not confuse things.

    A Morman, in this country has every right to practice his faith, just as I have every right to practice my faith as an Evanjelical Lutheran. Isn’t our country founded on this very premis?

    Folks are, certainly welcome to their opinions. Let us not, though confuse opinion with law.

    One”s son is in need of intricate heart surgery. The very best heart surgeon in the land is a Mormon. Does one have the very best surgeon operate on his son?

  • Jack

    I will have the very best heart surgeon operate on my son. That surgeon’s vocation has been granted by God. It matters not whether that surgeon grants his ability to God.

    Such surgeon’s right to lay claim to his craft is his, regardless of his faith, as long as the surgeon is able to prove his claim to perform that surgery.

    A person’s right to claim military honors must, likewise be subject to the same proof of claim.

  • Jack

    I will have the very best heart surgeon operate on my son. That surgeon’s vocation has been granted by God. It matters not whether that surgeon grants his ability to God.

    Such surgeon’s right to lay claim to his craft is his, regardless of his faith, as long as the surgeon is able to prove his claim to perform that surgery.

    A person’s right to claim military honors must, likewise be subject to the same proof of claim.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anyhow, the Supreme Court found the “Stolen Valor Act” to be unconstitutional. So it is not a crime in this country to lie about your military honors and awards.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anyhow, the Supreme Court found the “Stolen Valor Act” to be unconstitutional. So it is not a crime in this country to lie about your military honors and awards.

  • P.C.

    How odd is it that one who is not a physician can “act” as a physician and be sent to jail but one who has not been the recipient of our nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, can “act” (that is, be honored in parades, at civic events, dinners, commemoratives, wearing the medal, etc) as a MOH recipient and escape persecution claiming the 1st Amendment?

    I’m sure that my Medal of Honor acquaintances and the families of those MOH recipients who died in combat are saddened by the Supreme Court upholding the 9th Circuit Court’s dishonorable decision.

  • P.C.

    How odd is it that one who is not a physician can “act” as a physician and be sent to jail but one who has not been the recipient of our nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, can “act” (that is, be honored in parades, at civic events, dinners, commemoratives, wearing the medal, etc) as a MOH recipient and escape persecution claiming the 1st Amendment?

    I’m sure that my Medal of Honor acquaintances and the families of those MOH recipients who died in combat are saddened by the Supreme Court upholding the 9th Circuit Court’s dishonorable decision.

  • P.C.

    Correction: Should read “and escape prosecution claiming the 1st Amendment?” Although any cowardly one who claims to be a Medal of Honor recipient and is not one of those so honored individuals will be persecuted by the likes of me.

  • P.C.

    Correction: Should read “and escape prosecution claiming the 1st Amendment?” Although any cowardly one who claims to be a Medal of Honor recipient and is not one of those so honored individuals will be persecuted by the likes of me.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    P.C. (@7), when someone acts as a physician, they put other people’s lives in danger. What are you arguing the damage is from someone pretending they have a Medal of Honor? Again, as I asked, what criteria must a moral failing meet in order to merit criminalization?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    P.C. (@7), when someone acts as a physician, they put other people’s lives in danger. What are you arguing the damage is from someone pretending they have a Medal of Honor? Again, as I asked, what criteria must a moral failing meet in order to merit criminalization?

  • P.C.

    Todd,

    You said, “What are you arguing the damage is from someone pretending they have a Medal of Honor?” Specifically, the damage is done to each of us, yes each of us, as citizens of the United States who, through the President in the name of the Congress, have bestowed our country’s highest military award for valor. Is it criminal to pretend that one is a MOH recipient? The Supreme Court said it isn’t and I disagree. Ask a Medal of Honor recipient or the families of those MOH recipients that gave the ultimate sacrifice. I think they would agree with me.

  • P.C.

    Todd,

    You said, “What are you arguing the damage is from someone pretending they have a Medal of Honor?” Specifically, the damage is done to each of us, yes each of us, as citizens of the United States who, through the President in the name of the Congress, have bestowed our country’s highest military award for valor. Is it criminal to pretend that one is a MOH recipient? The Supreme Court said it isn’t and I disagree. Ask a Medal of Honor recipient or the families of those MOH recipients that gave the ultimate sacrifice. I think they would agree with me.

  • DonS

    I have not read this decision yet either, but on its face I have no problem with it. I am loath to have the government criminalize speech, even if it is speech we mostly all agree we hate. We need to vigorously protect our First Amendment rights from governmental incursions. It should be emphasized that if someone lies about receiving a Medal of Honor to get a job or for some other such reason, he can still be liable for damages he caused because of his deception. In other words, if his false statements induced someone else to act in reliance on their truth, and the liar had reason to know that this other person would do so, or had intent to induce him to do so, then that is actionable. What is not actionable is the mere utterance of the lie, absent more.

  • DonS

    I have not read this decision yet either, but on its face I have no problem with it. I am loath to have the government criminalize speech, even if it is speech we mostly all agree we hate. We need to vigorously protect our First Amendment rights from governmental incursions. It should be emphasized that if someone lies about receiving a Medal of Honor to get a job or for some other such reason, he can still be liable for damages he caused because of his deception. In other words, if his false statements induced someone else to act in reliance on their truth, and the liar had reason to know that this other person would do so, or had intent to induce him to do so, then that is actionable. What is not actionable is the mere utterance of the lie, absent more.

  • DonS

    P.C. @ 10, I agree with you that these types of lies are hurtful, but it is easy enough nowadays to research the truth of MOH claims. As Reagan said, “trust, but verify”.

  • DonS

    P.C. @ 10, I agree with you that these types of lies are hurtful, but it is easy enough nowadays to research the truth of MOH claims. As Reagan said, “trust, but verify”.

  • P.C.

    DonS @11,

    Thanks for the legal explanation. But as you said, “if his false statements induced someone else to act in reliance on their truth, and the liar had reason to know that this other person would do so, or had intent to induce him to do so, then that is actionable.”

    In this case, as well as in similar others, that is exactly what has happened. It is not just a case of free speech but rather fraudently acting as a Medal of Honor recipient to include wearing the Medal and recieving the accolades and other tangible and non-tangible benefits that come with this prestigious award. Fraud is fraud and in my opinion, this person stole from the citizens of the United States.

  • P.C.

    DonS @11,

    Thanks for the legal explanation. But as you said, “if his false statements induced someone else to act in reliance on their truth, and the liar had reason to know that this other person would do so, or had intent to induce him to do so, then that is actionable.”

    In this case, as well as in similar others, that is exactly what has happened. It is not just a case of free speech but rather fraudently acting as a Medal of Honor recipient to include wearing the Medal and recieving the accolades and other tangible and non-tangible benefits that come with this prestigious award. Fraud is fraud and in my opinion, this person stole from the citizens of the United States.

  • DonS

    P.C. @ 13: Again, I have not yet read the decision, so I hesitate to speak conclusively on this. But it seems to me that those who were defrauded a) have probably verified the claim before offering accolades to the fraudster and b) might still have an action against the fraudster if they were induced to do something because of his fraudulent statements. The statute went too far in criminalizing the false statements regardless of their context and purpose.

    This is kind of like the Westboro Baptist Church travesty of protesting at the funerals of military heroes. It is an abomination, but also the price of liberty that some will grossly misuse it.

  • DonS

    P.C. @ 13: Again, I have not yet read the decision, so I hesitate to speak conclusively on this. But it seems to me that those who were defrauded a) have probably verified the claim before offering accolades to the fraudster and b) might still have an action against the fraudster if they were induced to do something because of his fraudulent statements. The statute went too far in criminalizing the false statements regardless of their context and purpose.

    This is kind of like the Westboro Baptist Church travesty of protesting at the funerals of military heroes. It is an abomination, but also the price of liberty that some will grossly misuse it.

  • DonS

    Oops — my point a) above should have read “a) should have probably verified the claim ….

  • DonS

    Oops — my point a) above should have read “a) should have probably verified the claim ….

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    P.C. said (@10):

    Specifically, the damage is done to each of us, yes each of us, as citizens of the United States who, through the President in the name of the Congress, have bestowed our country’s highest military award for valor.

    Again, what damage? I was not personally damaged by the particular lie that brought about this legal case.

    Is it criminal to pretend that one is a MOH recipient? The Supreme Court said it isn’t and I disagree.

    You’re still not answering my question. A third time, what criteria must a moral failing meet in order to merit criminalization?

    You seem solely to be arguing that such a lie is despicable. I don’t see anyone disagreeing with that. But you haven’t established (1) what actual damage is being done (2) and why such a lie merits criminalization.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    P.C. said (@10):

    Specifically, the damage is done to each of us, yes each of us, as citizens of the United States who, through the President in the name of the Congress, have bestowed our country’s highest military award for valor.

    Again, what damage? I was not personally damaged by the particular lie that brought about this legal case.

    Is it criminal to pretend that one is a MOH recipient? The Supreme Court said it isn’t and I disagree.

    You’re still not answering my question. A third time, what criteria must a moral failing meet in order to merit criminalization?

    You seem solely to be arguing that such a lie is despicable. I don’t see anyone disagreeing with that. But you haven’t established (1) what actual damage is being done (2) and why such a lie merits criminalization.

  • P.C.

    Todd,

    You wrote, “Again, what damage? I was not personally damaged by the particular lie that brought about this legal case.” You obviously don’t realize it, due to your failure, perhaps, to comprehend the significant importance for which the Medal of Honor stands. Your damage and our damage, collectively as U.S. citizens, as I stated in @13, was that this person committed fraud by claiming to have received this priceless honor. One can’t lie to the IRS but one can lie about that medal hanging around one’s neck, eh?

    Tejinder Singh wrote in his blog, “Three Justices, led by Justice Alito, dissented, arguing that false statements about military medals merit no First Amendment protection whatsoever. Likening such statements to fraud, defamation, or lies to government agencies, all of which can be prohibited consistent with the First Amendment, the dissenters argued that the Government should have a free hand to prosecute those who lie about having earned military honors. The dissenters recognized that false statements may be protected when laws restricting them might chill otherwise protected speech, but argued that the Stolen Valor Act does not implicate that concern because the subject matter of the lies does not relate to any protected expression.” I concur with these three Justices.

    Singh continues, “Under today’s decision, the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional as drafted. However, Congress could almost certainly re-enact a version of the law. In fact, an effort to do so, spearheaded by Congressman Joe Heck of Nevada, has been underway for some time. Heck’s law, the Stolen Valor Act of 2011, makes it a crime to lie about serving in the military or earning a military decoration in order to obtain anything of benefit. Noting that the majority and the concurrence expressly contrasted the Stolen Valor Act with fraud statutes and other laws that prohibit lying for gain, it appears that Heck’s bill would have a significantly stronger chance of surviving constitutional scrutiny. (Tejinder Singh, Opinion recap: Stolen Valor Act violates the First Amendment, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 28, 2012, 2:47 PM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/06/opinion-recap-stolen-valor-act-violates-the-first-amendment/).

    Go meet a Medal of Honor recipient in the Portland area and after speaking with him I’m sure you will understand that Xavier Alvarez committed fraud against the United States of America. And yes, I do think that this lie is despicable. Hopefully, Representative Heck’s bill will prevail in the near future.

  • P.C.

    Todd,

    You wrote, “Again, what damage? I was not personally damaged by the particular lie that brought about this legal case.” You obviously don’t realize it, due to your failure, perhaps, to comprehend the significant importance for which the Medal of Honor stands. Your damage and our damage, collectively as U.S. citizens, as I stated in @13, was that this person committed fraud by claiming to have received this priceless honor. One can’t lie to the IRS but one can lie about that medal hanging around one’s neck, eh?

    Tejinder Singh wrote in his blog, “Three Justices, led by Justice Alito, dissented, arguing that false statements about military medals merit no First Amendment protection whatsoever. Likening such statements to fraud, defamation, or lies to government agencies, all of which can be prohibited consistent with the First Amendment, the dissenters argued that the Government should have a free hand to prosecute those who lie about having earned military honors. The dissenters recognized that false statements may be protected when laws restricting them might chill otherwise protected speech, but argued that the Stolen Valor Act does not implicate that concern because the subject matter of the lies does not relate to any protected expression.” I concur with these three Justices.

    Singh continues, “Under today’s decision, the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional as drafted. However, Congress could almost certainly re-enact a version of the law. In fact, an effort to do so, spearheaded by Congressman Joe Heck of Nevada, has been underway for some time. Heck’s law, the Stolen Valor Act of 2011, makes it a crime to lie about serving in the military or earning a military decoration in order to obtain anything of benefit. Noting that the majority and the concurrence expressly contrasted the Stolen Valor Act with fraud statutes and other laws that prohibit lying for gain, it appears that Heck’s bill would have a significantly stronger chance of surviving constitutional scrutiny. (Tejinder Singh, Opinion recap: Stolen Valor Act violates the First Amendment, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 28, 2012, 2:47 PM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/06/opinion-recap-stolen-valor-act-violates-the-first-amendment/).

    Go meet a Medal of Honor recipient in the Portland area and after speaking with him I’m sure you will understand that Xavier Alvarez committed fraud against the United States of America. And yes, I do think that this lie is despicable. Hopefully, Representative Heck’s bill will prevail in the near future.

  • kerner

    Traditionally, lies that would generate a criminal penalty fall into the following catagories:

    1. Lies to the government. These are genereally in response to some governmental question or to induce some governmental action. The government exercises its power every day, and it can do great damage to citizens if it is acting on incorrect information. Therefore the government is justified in punishing those who intentionally give it false information.

    2. Fraud. Which is lying to get someone else to give you something of value. Which is really a species of stealing, which everybody believes should have a criminal penalty.

    3. Lying under oath. This is really an extention of #1. Oaths are administered only before some really important questioning, and the declarant is made aware of how important the matter is, and warned of the penalty for lying, by the administration of the oath.

    Lying about having been awarded a military decoration certainly could fall under any of the foregoing catagories, and then it would be punished by those existing laws. But such a lie could also be for some pathetic, but otherwise harmless, reason, in which case (despicable though the lie would be) it is not really necessary to punish the lie with a criminal penalty.

    my $.02 anyway.

  • kerner

    Traditionally, lies that would generate a criminal penalty fall into the following catagories:

    1. Lies to the government. These are genereally in response to some governmental question or to induce some governmental action. The government exercises its power every day, and it can do great damage to citizens if it is acting on incorrect information. Therefore the government is justified in punishing those who intentionally give it false information.

    2. Fraud. Which is lying to get someone else to give you something of value. Which is really a species of stealing, which everybody believes should have a criminal penalty.

    3. Lying under oath. This is really an extention of #1. Oaths are administered only before some really important questioning, and the declarant is made aware of how important the matter is, and warned of the penalty for lying, by the administration of the oath.

    Lying about having been awarded a military decoration certainly could fall under any of the foregoing catagories, and then it would be punished by those existing laws. But such a lie could also be for some pathetic, but otherwise harmless, reason, in which case (despicable though the lie would be) it is not really necessary to punish the lie with a criminal penalty.

    my $.02 anyway.

  • kerner

    P.C.:

    Your comments put me in mind of the Steven Sagal movie, “Under Siege II”, in which our hero’s niece, portrayed by a very young Katherine Heigl, wears a Navy Cross around her neck, saying that it was given to her by her late father. Which just goes to show you how littlw Hollywood knows about how military people and their families understand the proper way to regard a military decoration. Nobody, not even the daughter of a fallen hero, should wear a Navy Cross as if it were a fashion accessory.

    Interestingly, while it might not be a crime to SAY you have earned a medal (if you have not), it might be a crime for a civillian to wear one.

    d. In accordance with chapter 45, section 771, title 10, United States Code (10 USC 771), no person except a member of the U.S. Army may wear the uniform, or a distinctive part of the uniform of the U.S. Army unless otherwise authorized by law. Additionally, no person except a member of the U.S. Army may wear a uniform, any part of which is similar to a distinctive part of the U.S. Army uniform. This includes the distinctive uniforms and uniform items listed in paragraph 1–12 of this regulation. Paragraph 1–12 goes on to define “Distinctive uniforms and uniform items:”

    a. The following uniform items are distinctive and will not be sold to or worn by unauthorized personnel:
    •(1) All Army headgear, when worn with insignia.
    •(2) Badges and tabs (identification, marksmanship, combat, and special skill).
    •(3) Uniform buttons (U.S. Army or Corps of Engineers).
    •(4) Decorations, service medals, service and training ribbons, and other awards and their appurtenances.
    •(5) Insignia of any design or color that the Army has adopted.

  • kerner

    P.C.:

    Your comments put me in mind of the Steven Sagal movie, “Under Siege II”, in which our hero’s niece, portrayed by a very young Katherine Heigl, wears a Navy Cross around her neck, saying that it was given to her by her late father. Which just goes to show you how littlw Hollywood knows about how military people and their families understand the proper way to regard a military decoration. Nobody, not even the daughter of a fallen hero, should wear a Navy Cross as if it were a fashion accessory.

    Interestingly, while it might not be a crime to SAY you have earned a medal (if you have not), it might be a crime for a civillian to wear one.

    d. In accordance with chapter 45, section 771, title 10, United States Code (10 USC 771), no person except a member of the U.S. Army may wear the uniform, or a distinctive part of the uniform of the U.S. Army unless otherwise authorized by law. Additionally, no person except a member of the U.S. Army may wear a uniform, any part of which is similar to a distinctive part of the U.S. Army uniform. This includes the distinctive uniforms and uniform items listed in paragraph 1–12 of this regulation. Paragraph 1–12 goes on to define “Distinctive uniforms and uniform items:”

    a. The following uniform items are distinctive and will not be sold to or worn by unauthorized personnel:
    •(1) All Army headgear, when worn with insignia.
    •(2) Badges and tabs (identification, marksmanship, combat, and special skill).
    •(3) Uniform buttons (U.S. Army or Corps of Engineers).
    •(4) Decorations, service medals, service and training ribbons, and other awards and their appurtenances.
    •(5) Insignia of any design or color that the Army has adopted.

  • Susan

    If anyone is interested in more reading: Professor and attorney, Eugene Volokh, has written his opinion on the decision. I think DonS gave the best advice: Heed Reagan’s “Trust, but verify.”

    Freedom of Speech and Knowing Falsehoods
    http://www.volokh.com/2012/06/28/freedom-of-speech-and-knowing-falsehoods

  • Susan

    If anyone is interested in more reading: Professor and attorney, Eugene Volokh, has written his opinion on the decision. I think DonS gave the best advice: Heed Reagan’s “Trust, but verify.”

    Freedom of Speech and Knowing Falsehoods
    http://www.volokh.com/2012/06/28/freedom-of-speech-and-knowing-falsehoods

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    P.C. (@17), are you joking? I really was damaged by that lie, but I’m just too ignorant to know how badly I was damaged? Yeah, that’s called … not being damaged.

    I understand that the Medal of Honor is a significant, important recognition. It remains so even if someone out there claims to have gotten one, but didn’t.

    In fact, the fact that someone would attempt to lie about such a matter only testifies to the significance of the award. It’s not likely that someone would say, “Yeah, I got a Medal of Honor, whatever. It’s in a box in the basement somewhere. Big deal.”

    But you appear unwilling or unable to specify any actual damage that occurs when someone falsely claims to have earned such an honor. All you did was restate the scenario:

    Your damage and our damage, collectively as U.S. citizens, as I stated in @13, was that this person committed fraud by claiming to have received this priceless honor.

    …which, somehow, damaged me, but I’m too stupid to know that, I guess.

    Here, I’ll give you an example from my life. I’m an Eagle Scout. In the context of Scouting (and, to a lesser degree, in everyday life), that’s a prestigious award. People are/were occasionally impressed when they learn that about me. It affords me some prestige. Is any of that affected by someone falsely claiming to also be an Eagle Scout? No. The award remains attached to my name, based on the things I did. And, again, the fact that someone would attempt to lie about doing similar things himself only makes the award that much more prestigious. As a result, such a liar in no way damages me.

    Go meet a Medal of Honor recipient in the Portland area and after speaking with him I’m sure you will understand that Xavier Alvarez committed fraud against the United States of America.

    No, because Alvarez didn’t obtain anything — or even attempt to — from the USA. Heck, he didn’t even obtain anything from the people in the water district he was elected to. As the SCOTUSblog article you pointed me to says, Alvarez’s false statements were “made without any apparent intent to defraud or gain anything”. He made the statements in a meeting after he was already elected. The only thing he possibly obtained fraudulently was other people’s potential respect.

    But if you’re going to argue that we need laws that prevent that from happening, you’re going to have to criminalize all lying. And there are way more such lies being told down at your local bar about non-military achievements than there are about the Medal of Honor.

    But if we’re going to criminalize all lying, then there remains the question in which you have no apparent interest: what criteria must a moral failing meet in order to merit criminalization?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    P.C. (@17), are you joking? I really was damaged by that lie, but I’m just too ignorant to know how badly I was damaged? Yeah, that’s called … not being damaged.

    I understand that the Medal of Honor is a significant, important recognition. It remains so even if someone out there claims to have gotten one, but didn’t.

    In fact, the fact that someone would attempt to lie about such a matter only testifies to the significance of the award. It’s not likely that someone would say, “Yeah, I got a Medal of Honor, whatever. It’s in a box in the basement somewhere. Big deal.”

    But you appear unwilling or unable to specify any actual damage that occurs when someone falsely claims to have earned such an honor. All you did was restate the scenario:

    Your damage and our damage, collectively as U.S. citizens, as I stated in @13, was that this person committed fraud by claiming to have received this priceless honor.

    …which, somehow, damaged me, but I’m too stupid to know that, I guess.

    Here, I’ll give you an example from my life. I’m an Eagle Scout. In the context of Scouting (and, to a lesser degree, in everyday life), that’s a prestigious award. People are/were occasionally impressed when they learn that about me. It affords me some prestige. Is any of that affected by someone falsely claiming to also be an Eagle Scout? No. The award remains attached to my name, based on the things I did. And, again, the fact that someone would attempt to lie about doing similar things himself only makes the award that much more prestigious. As a result, such a liar in no way damages me.

    Go meet a Medal of Honor recipient in the Portland area and after speaking with him I’m sure you will understand that Xavier Alvarez committed fraud against the United States of America.

    No, because Alvarez didn’t obtain anything — or even attempt to — from the USA. Heck, he didn’t even obtain anything from the people in the water district he was elected to. As the SCOTUSblog article you pointed me to says, Alvarez’s false statements were “made without any apparent intent to defraud or gain anything”. He made the statements in a meeting after he was already elected. The only thing he possibly obtained fraudulently was other people’s potential respect.

    But if you’re going to argue that we need laws that prevent that from happening, you’re going to have to criminalize all lying. And there are way more such lies being told down at your local bar about non-military achievements than there are about the Medal of Honor.

    But if we’re going to criminalize all lying, then there remains the question in which you have no apparent interest: what criteria must a moral failing meet in order to merit criminalization?

  • Dust
  • Dust
  • P.C.

    todd,

    My sincere congratulations to you on receiving the Eagle Scout award (obviously pre-WELSer). It is certainly an accomplishment that was well deserved and I’m sure you cherish this award presented by the Boys Scouts of America. Again, well done.

    I have no thoughts or comments about criminalizing all lying, just, repeat just, lying about whether one has received the Medal of Honor, our nations most prestigious award. There is no other comparable award given by the United States of America.

    Unlike the Nobel Peace Prize, which a few years ago was given to an individual, not for what he did since he had not done anything meriting this once prestigious award, but rather for what he said he would do, the Medal of Honor is only given to those who through “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against any enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.”

    Even though you sarcastically deny you were personally harmed by Xavier Alvarez’s claim to be a Medal of Honor recipient, I agree with you that it just does shows your ignorance (“I really was damaged by that lie, but I’m just too ignorant to know how badly I was damaged?”) about the supreme sacrifice our servicemen and women voluntarily make in the service of our country, and in most cases, for their companions in combat in order to be considered, involuntarily I might add, for this honor. Perhaps you will look up John 15:13 to have a better context of what the vast majority of Medal of Honor recipients did…for you.

    Here, I’ll give you an example from my life. Twenty years ago or so my mother sent me an obituary of the neighbor man across the street. She wondered whether or not the obituary was true. The obituary stated that he had served in WW II, jumped into France on D-Day with the 82nd Air Borne Division, was awarded multiple Distinquished Service Crosses, Silver Stars, Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts, and was combat promoted to Brigadier General (in his twenties, I might add). What really got my attention was that the obit said he was awarded the Medal of Honor. At the time I was assigned to the Joint Staff at the Pentagon so I strolled down to the Hall of Heroes and looked for his name (before Google) . Needless to say, he wasn’t listed on those hallowed walls. He was a fraud and coward.

    Even though Xavier Alvarez did not benefit materially from his false claim, he did realized his guilt and that is why he pleaded guilty. He is a fraud and a coward in my eyes and you can defend him and his disgraceful lie all you want and say it should not be criminalized. For me, I want him and his ilk (and there are plenty of others like him) to be criminally prosecuted. He should be criminally prosecuted for those, alive and deceased, whom have really earned the Medal of Honor.

  • P.C.

    todd,

    My sincere congratulations to you on receiving the Eagle Scout award (obviously pre-WELSer). It is certainly an accomplishment that was well deserved and I’m sure you cherish this award presented by the Boys Scouts of America. Again, well done.

    I have no thoughts or comments about criminalizing all lying, just, repeat just, lying about whether one has received the Medal of Honor, our nations most prestigious award. There is no other comparable award given by the United States of America.

    Unlike the Nobel Peace Prize, which a few years ago was given to an individual, not for what he did since he had not done anything meriting this once prestigious award, but rather for what he said he would do, the Medal of Honor is only given to those who through “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against any enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.”

    Even though you sarcastically deny you were personally harmed by Xavier Alvarez’s claim to be a Medal of Honor recipient, I agree with you that it just does shows your ignorance (“I really was damaged by that lie, but I’m just too ignorant to know how badly I was damaged?”) about the supreme sacrifice our servicemen and women voluntarily make in the service of our country, and in most cases, for their companions in combat in order to be considered, involuntarily I might add, for this honor. Perhaps you will look up John 15:13 to have a better context of what the vast majority of Medal of Honor recipients did…for you.

    Here, I’ll give you an example from my life. Twenty years ago or so my mother sent me an obituary of the neighbor man across the street. She wondered whether or not the obituary was true. The obituary stated that he had served in WW II, jumped into France on D-Day with the 82nd Air Borne Division, was awarded multiple Distinquished Service Crosses, Silver Stars, Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts, and was combat promoted to Brigadier General (in his twenties, I might add). What really got my attention was that the obit said he was awarded the Medal of Honor. At the time I was assigned to the Joint Staff at the Pentagon so I strolled down to the Hall of Heroes and looked for his name (before Google) . Needless to say, he wasn’t listed on those hallowed walls. He was a fraud and coward.

    Even though Xavier Alvarez did not benefit materially from his false claim, he did realized his guilt and that is why he pleaded guilty. He is a fraud and a coward in my eyes and you can defend him and his disgraceful lie all you want and say it should not be criminalized. For me, I want him and his ilk (and there are plenty of others like him) to be criminally prosecuted. He should be criminally prosecuted for those, alive and deceased, whom have really earned the Medal of Honor.

  • reg

    P. C.,
    You don’t seem to have much regard for one of the most sacrosanct and distinguishing features of the USA-the first amendment and freedom of speech. There are plenty of other countries out there who would criminalize all manner of the type speech you abhor, including seditious libel and the like. Those countries however are not the USA. I think in your zeal to protect us from the damage you perceive we unknowingly are suffering that you would give up the greatest attribute of this country-our freedom to speak, eve if what we say is disgraceful, stupid, unamerican, etc. Basically you want to criminalize the very thing that first amendment is intended to protect, offensive/obnoxious speech (after all inoffensive speech needs no protection). I am actually surprised the SCOTUS ruling wasn’t 9-0.

  • reg

    P. C.,
    You don’t seem to have much regard for one of the most sacrosanct and distinguishing features of the USA-the first amendment and freedom of speech. There are plenty of other countries out there who would criminalize all manner of the type speech you abhor, including seditious libel and the like. Those countries however are not the USA. I think in your zeal to protect us from the damage you perceive we unknowingly are suffering that you would give up the greatest attribute of this country-our freedom to speak, eve if what we say is disgraceful, stupid, unamerican, etc. Basically you want to criminalize the very thing that first amendment is intended to protect, offensive/obnoxious speech (after all inoffensive speech needs no protection). I am actually surprised the SCOTUS ruling wasn’t 9-0.

  • P.C.

    reg,

    As previously stated, maybe three times or so, “I have no thoughts or comments about criminalizing all lying, just, repeat just, lying about whether one has received the Medal of Honor, our nations most prestigious award.”

  • P.C.

    reg,

    As previously stated, maybe three times or so, “I have no thoughts or comments about criminalizing all lying, just, repeat just, lying about whether one has received the Medal of Honor, our nations most prestigious award.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    P.C. (@23, 25), look, it’s clear that you want to criminalize this one particular type of lying, even though you still have yet to demonstrate any damage other than what you personally perceive — and have attempted, unsuccessfully, to convince others that they really should be perceiving, as well.

    But you remain singularly uninterested, it seems, in pondering the why behind your insistence. As such, I don’t find it terribly interesting — or, obviously, compelling. It’s just an argument by fiat. “We should criminalize lying about these certain awards!” “Why?” “Because P.C. says so, and that’s the end of that discussion.”

    I agree with you that it just does shows your ignorance … about the supreme sacrifice our servicemen and women voluntarily make in the service of our country…

    Wow. Wow! That is not what I said. I claimed “ignorance”, as it were, regarding the damage that you assert — which damage remains wholly unsubstantiated by you except that your feelings appear to be hurt.

    But, thank you very much, I am not ignorant “about the supreme sacrifice our servicemen and women voluntarily make in the service of our country”, and I very much resent that you would stoop so low to accuse me of that.

    You really need to reread what I said here, as well as rethink your tactics, P.C. Playing that card just because I don’t agree with you obviously wasn’t designed to win me over, so is that some sort of “take your ball and go home” statement? Criminy.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    P.C. (@23, 25), look, it’s clear that you want to criminalize this one particular type of lying, even though you still have yet to demonstrate any damage other than what you personally perceive — and have attempted, unsuccessfully, to convince others that they really should be perceiving, as well.

    But you remain singularly uninterested, it seems, in pondering the why behind your insistence. As such, I don’t find it terribly interesting — or, obviously, compelling. It’s just an argument by fiat. “We should criminalize lying about these certain awards!” “Why?” “Because P.C. says so, and that’s the end of that discussion.”

    I agree with you that it just does shows your ignorance … about the supreme sacrifice our servicemen and women voluntarily make in the service of our country…

    Wow. Wow! That is not what I said. I claimed “ignorance”, as it were, regarding the damage that you assert — which damage remains wholly unsubstantiated by you except that your feelings appear to be hurt.

    But, thank you very much, I am not ignorant “about the supreme sacrifice our servicemen and women voluntarily make in the service of our country”, and I very much resent that you would stoop so low to accuse me of that.

    You really need to reread what I said here, as well as rethink your tactics, P.C. Playing that card just because I don’t agree with you obviously wasn’t designed to win me over, so is that some sort of “take your ball and go home” statement? Criminy.

  • dan

    Accomplishments? I have none. It is all Christ’s. He accomplished all for me…and You.

  • dan

    Accomplishments? I have none. It is all Christ’s. He accomplished all for me…and You.

  • P.C.

    This link is an article in today’s San Diego U-T. Needless to say, Colonel Robert Modrzejewski USMC (Ret) is one of America’s living Medal of Honor heroes…and certainly mine.

    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jul/03/tp-medal-of-honor-recipient-has-many-lessons-to/?page=1#article

  • P.C.

    This link is an article in today’s San Diego U-T. Needless to say, Colonel Robert Modrzejewski USMC (Ret) is one of America’s living Medal of Honor heroes…and certainly mine.

    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jul/03/tp-medal-of-honor-recipient-has-many-lessons-to/?page=1#article


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