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Mon Feb 20, 2012, 12:31 PM

Is there a "right to lie?"

XAVIER ALVAREZ is a liar. Even the brief filed on his behalf in the United States Supreme Court says as much: “Xavier Alvarez lied.” It informs us that he has told tall tales about playing hockey for the Detroit Red Wings, being married to a Mexican starlet and rescuing the American ambassador during the Iranian hostage crisis. But as the brief reminds us, “none of those lies were crimes.”

Another of his falsehoods, however, did violate the law. In 2007, while introducing himself at a meeting of a California water board, he said that he was a retired Marine who had been awarded the Medal of Honor (both lies). He was quickly exposed as a phony and pilloried in the community and press as an “idiot” and the “ultimate slime.”

But his censure did not end there. The federal government prosecuted him under the Stolen Valor Act, which prohibits falsely claiming to have been awarded a military medal, with an enhanced penalty (up to a year in prison) for claiming to have received the Medal of Honor. Mr. Alvarez was convicted but appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which held that the act violated the First Amendment.

The government has taken the case to the Supreme Court, which is scheduled to hear arguments this week. The question before the court is not whether there is a constitutional “right” to lie. Rather, it’s a question about the scope of the government’s power over individuals — whether the government can criminalize saying untrue things about oneself even if there is no harm to any identifiable person, no intent to cheat anyone or gain unfair advantage, no receipt of anything of value and no interference with the administration of justice or any other compelling government interest.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/20/opinion/is-there-a-right-to-lie.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=thab1

21 replies, 4726 views

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Arrow 21 replies Author Time Post
Reply Is there a "right to lie?" (Original post)
groovedaddy Feb 2012 OP
MADem Feb 2012 #1
MattBaggins Feb 2012 #4
MADem Feb 2012 #5
groovedaddy Feb 2012 #10
MADem Feb 2012 #11
pinboy3niner Feb 2012 #12
groovedaddy Feb 2012 #13
pinboy3niner Feb 2012 #14
Tesha Feb 2012 #2
customerserviceguy Feb 2012 #6
Tesha Feb 2012 #8
customerserviceguy Feb 2012 #9
2ndAmForComputers Feb 2012 #3
NYC Liberal Feb 2012 #7
flexnor Feb 2012 #15
Tierra_y_Libertad Feb 2012 #16
groovedaddy Feb 2012 #17
Bandit Feb 2012 #18
groovedaddy Feb 2012 #19
flexnor Feb 2012 #20
malaise Feb 2012 #21

Response to groovedaddy (Original post)

Mon Feb 20, 2012, 12:50 PM

1. Someone who purports to be a Medal of Honor winner does

gain a number of advantages--and they would be "unfair" if the person did not merit them. Some, of course, require serious proof (like the extra pay a MOH recipient gets) but others, like commissary or exchange benefits, might not be too hard to get with a little bullshit and phony paperwork:

Medal of Honor recipients are given the following special privileges and special benefits:
Special Medal of Honor pension of $1,194 per month above and beyond any military pensions or other benefits for which they may be eligible. The MOH pension is subject to cost-of-living increases.
Special entitlements to Space A air transportation.
Enlisted recipients are entitled to a supplemental uniform allowance.
Commissary and exchange privileges (includes eligible dependents).
Admission to the United States military academies for qualified children of recipients -- without nomination and quota requirements.
10 percent increase in retired pay.
Medal of Honor Flag.
Allowed to wear the uniform at anytime as long as the standard restrictions are observed.
Many states offer Medal of Honor automobile license plates.
Interment at Arlington National Cemetery if not otherwise eligible.


http://www.military.com/benefits/content/veteran-benefits/the-medal-of-honor.html

I think a year in jail is a bit much, though, even though I don't have any respect for people who do that kind of thing. I think public shaming is much more effective, and I think the law, if it even stays on the books, should be beaten down to a misdemeanor with a chunky but not too onerous fine (the proceeds of which should be diverted to the fund for the Armed Forces Retirement Home), and an exception clearly stated in the law for films, satire and the like.

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Response to MADem (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 20, 2012, 02:30 PM

4. Only if he had filed for those benefits

Some asshat saying they are a MOH recipient just for the hell of it is free speech. Unless they actually use it to defraud, they should not be arrested.

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Response to MattBaggins (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 20, 2012, 03:12 PM

5. I think arrest is over the top in any instance.

I do sort of like the idea of a misdemeanor fine to benefit the AFRH, though, with a satire/actor's caveat so people on stage/screen can feel safe from being fined. Don't know if it would float, though, it's probably an impossibly hard sell--we'll have to see what the court ruling is, ultimately.

I know there is a website that goes after guys who pretend to be SEALS--they do (or did, haven't checked it in a few years now) a really good job of tracking down those bullshitters and shaming them roundly. If they don't have a site ginned up for MOH fakes, maybe someone needs to get on that.

I imagine in the Iraq/Afghanistan postwar era, we'll probably see a whole load of medal phonies trying to bask in the "glory" for reasons known only to themselves.

War's a sad thing, much sadder, really, than the liars who want to beat their chests and pretend that they were there. I don't really see the point, to lie and say you were a witness/participant to such terrible horror and sadness, but who knows why some humans behave as they do, eh?

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Response to MADem (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 08:30 AM

10. I wonder how many actually were there who lie about their experiences? The most recent example

of the Marine from Kentucky who received the MOH. It seems the "higher ups" did a fair amount of embellishing in his case. Those who were with him say he stilled deserved it but were upset that so much b.s. was spun by the brass.

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Response to groovedaddy (Reply #10)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 10:00 AM

11. It's witnesses and superiors who make the MOH happen--the servicemember doesn't put themselves up

for the award. It would be the witnesses doing most of the embellishing, maybe at someone's behest?

It can be political, I'm sure, and there's certainly no small amount of "reflected glory" to be found off the thing as well.

I've only known one guy with one--he was a very focused and down-to-earth gent. Since he was missing a good bit of his face, I'm guessing he deserved his.

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Response to MADem (Reply #11)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 10:10 AM

12. MOH nominations are rigorously vetted

One friend was awarded the Medal. It was only when we went swimming that I saw the horrendous scars on his abdomen--from jumping on a grenade to save his squad.

I'm guessing his award was well-deserved, too...

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Response to pinboy3niner (Reply #12)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 11:49 AM

13. Some interesting facts on the MOH

In 1916, a board was created to determine eligibility for the award and to review the cases of those who had already received the award,

"And in any case . . . in which said board shall find and report that said medal was issued for any cause other than that hereinbefore specified, the name of the recipient of the medal so issued shall be stricken permanently from the official Medal of Honor list. It shall be a misdemeanor for him to wear or publicly display such medal, and, if he shall be in the Army, he shall be required to return said medal to the War Department for cancellation."

All of the 2,625 medals awarded up to that time were considered by the board and nearly one-third (911) were canceled. Most of these canceled awards constituted those issued to the 27th Maine Volunteer Infantry. William Cody's and Mary Edwards Walker's awards were canceled as well.

http://www.mishalov.com/Medal_Honor_History_Issues.html

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Response to groovedaddy (Reply #13)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 12:08 PM

14. That shows the reform, 100 years ago, to rigorous examination of nominees

There is no higher honor in the U.S. military, and DoD has every reason to insure that the integrity of the selection process is beyond question.

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Response to groovedaddy (Original post)


Response to Tesha (Reply #2)

Mon Feb 20, 2012, 03:24 PM

6. Black programs are lies?

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Response to customerserviceguy (Reply #6)


Response to Tesha (Reply #8)

Mon Feb 20, 2012, 10:56 PM

9. I do, I just had to have a bit of fun there! n/t

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Response to groovedaddy (Original post)

Mon Feb 20, 2012, 01:53 PM

3. Yes, there is. Some specific lies to obtain advantage may be forbidden by law.

But in general, it's protected speech.

Boss: "Have you ever done illegal drugs?"

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Response to groovedaddy (Original post)

Mon Feb 20, 2012, 03:27 PM

7. Lies that are not told to defraud or defame are free speech.

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Response to groovedaddy (Original post)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 01:21 PM

15. not if someone else has a 'material interest' in the truth of the statement

 


i once golfed a hole in one - ok

this house has been inspected for termites - not ok

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Response to groovedaddy (Original post)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 01:29 PM

16. So, what actual harm did the guy do?

Go to almost any bar and there you will find guys claiming to be almost anything that beer and imagination can produce.

This falls under the "big deal" category of jurisprudence.

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Response to Tierra_y_Libertad (Reply #16)

Wed Feb 22, 2012, 08:44 AM

17. Which I guess is the op-ed writers point: this should not be against the law. n.t

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Response to groovedaddy (Original post)

Wed Feb 22, 2012, 08:59 AM

18. Fox News went to court on this very issue and the court ruled they did indeed

have the right to LIE and because of that case Canada will not allow them to air in that country.

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Response to Bandit (Reply #18)

Thu Feb 23, 2012, 07:43 AM

19. They wouldn't be the propaganda machine they are without that ruling! n.t

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Response to groovedaddy (Original post)

Thu Feb 23, 2012, 07:48 AM

20. it should not be illegal, per se

 

but anything gained where it was mentioned should be forfieted, and contract made where it was mentioned should have the option to be voided if the other party wants out for any reason (if the other party can prove it, you dont want people falsely accusing others of this to get out of contracts)

and even if no tangable benefit was obtained in any way, it should be a stigma upon the liar of the same equal and opposite weight of the honor that they claimed to have, until they have shown to redeem themselves (and not anytime soon)

'stigma' is a word that actually has it's own stigma, as there are endless cases where stigmas have been wrong and harmfull. but they do have their place, this is one of them. back in the old days, it didnt always take a court to send a message

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Response to groovedaddy (Original post)

Thu Feb 23, 2012, 07:52 AM

21. You know the meme

IOIYAR

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