Should freedom of speech extend to lies about military honors?

The Supreme Court is considering whether to overturn a law against falsely claiming to have received military decorations. Today’s Question: Should freedom of speech extend to lies about military honors?

  • Alison

    Yes. We have the right to free speech, even ridiculous, malicious free speech. The soldiers getting the actual honors fought for our rights, even this one.

  • James

    The sign that the apocolypse is upon us!

    How can this case get to the supreme court? Even if it’s a bad law, why deal with it? The rights of people who lie about their military duty are low on my personal priority list.

  • Deborah

    There is a big difference between the “almost hero” who embellishes his metals at the Thanksgiving table, and the one who runs for office.

  • Lou
  • Restricting discourse, including lying, is corrosive to a democracy.

  • Mike

    Am I missing something? Is this about the right to free speech or the right to lie.

    Politicians lie and adjust the truth all the time, why would we ‘fact check’ if they were not liars.

    There is a huge difference between the freedom to speak what’s in your mind, however distasteful others might find it, and a lie.

    I thought that one of the 10 commandments was ‘thou shalt not bear false witness…”, in other words don’t tell lies.

    Along with corporations being people, which plainly they are not, we will now add telling lies is OK because the US supreme court said so. Liars!

  • Steve the Cynic

    The “Stolen Valor” law is completely unnecessary. It’s enactment was nothing more than feel-good pseudo-patriotic grandstanding. The appropriate punishment for braggarts who lie about military exploits is the public approbrium that follows from their inevitable exposure. Those who profit materially from such lies can be prosecuted under existing fraud laws. We have more important things for Congress to deal with than this sort of thing.

  • Mark in Freeborn

    Freedom of Speech implies just that: freedom of speech. This idea of prosecuting people for lying about military service or valor is really just a sop to the right-wing, which in turn is just a sop to the military in general. Any idea, no matter how ridiculous, that is devised to placate a specific interest group, is itself ridiculous, especially so when it violates the Constitution while, ironically, purporting to honor the actual heroes who protect the Constitution.

  • kennedy

    Lying about military honors should not be protected speech.

    It seems closely related to presenting yourself as an officer of the law, which is also illegal if not true.

  • Ron

    Um … nope.

  • Alison

    \\It seems closely related to presenting yourself as an officer of the law, which is also illegal if not true.

    I disagree. The public is obligated to follow your directions as an officer of the law in cases such as emergencies and providing information. There is no obligation to the public regarding a military honor.

  • Jim G

    We can’t stop liars by enforcing these types of laws. Most liars can’t stop themselves. First and foremost, they’re lying to themselves to make themselves feel better. These people are looking for social adulation. When they’re exposed, they’ll get social ridicule instead. This seems like the most appropriate consequence.

  • Scott Slocum

    Fraud: profiting financially from a lie.

    Defamation: damaging an opponent’s reputation with a lie.

    Normal, everyday, legal human behavior: boasting with a lie.

  • suzie

    If lying about your military service is protected as freedom of speech, then the outing of these discusting creeps should be considered as freedom of speech also. So if someone is passing themselves off as a hero and reaping the benefits that can go along with that, they should be outed to the nearest VFW or American Legion post and to the district’s congressional office and any and all local media. Real freedom of speech!

    In the future, can we trust thanking a member of our military, when we may be feeding into that’s coward”s need for applause and also the financial and physical benefits they may receive.

  • Lance

    Sadly, I believe lying to the general public about bogus military honors is among the rights guaranteed by the 1st amendment – along with burning the flag and posting unpopular opinions on this site.

    I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

    Since we’re discussing the constitution/bill of rights, can we get back to the federal government only governing by the powers enumerated in it?

  • david

    This seems like another solution to a non-existent problem. For every case of someone lying about receiving a military honor, there are hundreds if not thousands of politicians, political group, or media persons lying about much worse things and causing way more harm. Ironic no politician wants to pass a law about that. I guess they can pass laws like this to divert attention from their own lies.

  • JasonB

    Reluctantly, yes.

    Being a jerk is not a crime, much as sometimes I wish it was. The laws already on the books should already cover any misrepresentation or fraud concerns that this issue might raise. In those cases it can then be treated like all other ‘lies’ that are evidence of a legal offense.

    This is the tradeoff for freedom of speech. As distasteful as it is, even racists are allowed to spew their lies

  • GregX

    what in the world is the basis of the lawsuit? If we ban lying on resumes – military of otherwise – there goes half of the executive’s in the USA.

  • John P II

    Yes, freedom of speech needs to protect all idiots and liars.

    I’m trying to imagine a situation where I would treat someone claiming to have received a military medal (or even served in the military) any differently solely because of those claims. If it was a significant issue (public honors, qualifications, financial benefits, etc.) there needs to be a vetting process.

  • John

    Lying must be protected.

    What would happen to our poor politicians?

    We’d have to take them out back and shoot them.

    Hmm, now there is an idea.

  • John Pastor

    Lying by politicians, especially by those running for office, should be a crime.

  • Sarah S

    Limiting free speech sounds like a slippery slope. This person was just lying – it’s not classy, but it’s not illegal. And frankly, much worse has been said (neo-Nazis and white supremacists come to mind) without someone trying to change the Constitution – alas lying and prejudice is part of our society and we can only discourage, not limit it.

  • This is NOT lucy

    In the future, can we trust thanking a member of our military, when we may be feeding into that’s coward”s need for applause and also the financial and physical benefits they may receive.

    Posted by suzie | February 23, 2012 9:43 AM

    @ OOzie,

    All vets and vets with medals have -HAVE-to have the documentation to prove their status. Any benefits awarded to those who falsely claimed veterans status would be found out. If they fell through the cracks somehow, then I would blame those in Administration for not doing a thorough job. hmmm imagine that! and yes, I qualify as a vet.

  • This is NOT lucy

    And for further information, Suz, the form needed for proof is called a Form DD214

  • Zeb

    I am perplexed as to why this is a question? Free speech is free speech. Lies always catch up with liars. These people will be found out eventually and will be shunned accordingly by the public. Of course free speech should extend to falsifying military honors. Just because it’s the military included in on this doesn’t mean freedom goes out the window.

    I thought the military was the protector of our freedoms?!

  • This is NOT lucy

    To answer the question, no. Freedom of speech should not include lies whether they are military honors or claiming you have a degree in HR.

  • Jane Strauss

    No, lies are lies. It is not appropriate under freedom of speech to misrepresent your employment history, including military.