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Judge Rules Against Stolen Valor Act

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Next they'll legalise identity theft.

Did you even read the article?

 

Denver attorney Christopher P. Beall, who filed a friend-of-the-court brief for the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, said the Stolen Valor Act is fatally flawed because it doesn't require prosecutors to show anyone was harmed or defamed by the lie.

 

"The government position was that any speech that's false is not protected by the First Amendment. That proposition is very dangerous," Beall said.

 

"It puts the government in a much more powerful position to prosecute people for speaking out on things they believe to be true but turn out not to be true," he said.

I sure as hell wouldn't want my free speech jeopardized just so you can punish some retard who lies about being a war hero as a kneejerk-reaction.

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Did you read the article?...... The issue is not "freedom of speech", but fraud. Plain and simple. It has been illegal to impersonate a government employee or official ( in this case Marine) for along time. The Stolen Valor Act is just focused on Walter Mitty types who are trying to gain favor, accolation, or profit from falsely displaying a decoration. Either way you skin it he is in violation. Freedom of speech does have a maximum effective range. I believe this turd exceeded it. This will get nuked in the Circuit Court. I hope that dork in his half way house gets dysentary.

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Where does this crap end? I guess I'll start claiming I'm handicapped so I can get those sweet parking spots, a policeman so I can get my donuts for free and just about anything else I want to as long as I shove it under the 1st Amendment.

 

That idiot and anyone else who claims stolen valor is doing nothing more than fraud. Whether they used their 1st Amendment right to perform fraud is another story.

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Now hold on here for a second folks. Falsely claiming to be a police officer or being handicap to use certain privileges that comes with that status is a whole different issue mainly because of those certain special privileges. There are no special privileges attached to claiming being a war hero. Claiming to being handicap when you are not is physically depriving someone who is handicap of having access to certain accomadations that should be available to them. Falsely claiming to be a police officer can allow someone to have unauthorized authority to do a whole bunch of things that would be highly illegal. Tell me what can someone gain to falsely claim of being a war hero that can deprive someone of services or take advantage of against the community? Nothing except a false sense of respect and recognition... untill found out. This is nowhere near close to be classified as identity theft. Do I agree with what Mr. Strandlof did?... no. However, I do not find anything illegal about it. If this law is enforced, it would open Pandora's box. Anything that anybody says, that turns out to be false, no matter how small it is, can now be prosecuted, and that my friends is a very scary thing. What if you said one thing, thought it was true, but turns out to be false, and now you can face criminal charges because of it? That is classified as a fascist government and I will not support those ideals or beliefs. These are some of the things we have to accept in order to maintain that this country is a free country. I see it as the same as flag burning. It's disgracefull, but it's not illegal. We just have to put up with it and roll our eyes and tell the guy he's a moron. That's the most that you can do.

Edited by serverandenforcer

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Well, thinking about it, and not being familiar with this particular case.... If you were claiming to be a Veteran and apply for a job, especially a government job that gives special consideration to veteran status, it would be considered fraud and the harm would be to any other non-veteran applicants.

 

Beard

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my thoughts are just as S&E's above. I would like to add a little bit however: there are some benefits one might be able use by fraudulently claiming to be a war hero. It wouldn't be surprising to find someone trying to take advantage of scholarships and grants for education soldiers get from universities, or medical care from the VA, though that would be much harder to pull off.

 

As for the law itself, it's wholely unnecessary to make statutes for absolutely everything. The current common law for fraud really should be all that is needed for such circumstances.

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Well, thinking about it, and not being familiar with this particular case.... If you were claiming to be a Veteran and apply for a job, especially a government job that gives special consideration to veteran status, it would be considered fraud and the harm would be to any other non-veteran applicants.

 

Beard

 

 

Not really. That's where background checks come into play. It could be prosecuted, but the most that would probably happen is the guy would be denied and possibly placed on the FBI's watch list if it was a government job. Non-veteran applicants would not be harmed by this. When I worked on the civilian side, we have guys who would claim that they were in the Marines or the Army to get a job with us when the weren't. It only take one phone call to verify this stuff. They get denied on the spot. :grin:

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I hate to break it to some, but the Stolen Valor Act is a LAW! Mr. Halfwayhouse violated that law. A Federal judge in his own opinion finds the law unconstitutional and threw it out. It will go to the Circuit Court and more than likely the first ruling will be over turned. This is a law, not a lifestyle.........Just sayin! :drinks:

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Well, I'll go ahead and exercise my 1st Amendment. Judge Robert Blackburn is a POS.

 

How's that for free speech?

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That judge sucks dick.... freedom of speech that....

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Here's one thing to consider... untill this incident, I never heard of the "Stolen Valor Act". So if I had never heard of it untill now, who should expect some average joe to have heard of it. Making a law that's not very well known and then suddenly going full force in prosecuting somebody who is in violation of it and very likely not knowing that it was illegal is just wrong. I'm saying this because recently the same thing almost happened to me at my unit. I almost got paper work slamed on me because I apparently had violated a unit policy on something that I had no idea of. Fortunately for me, I put up a good fight on it to where they withdrew the paper work and just made it a verbal advisement. So if I'm going to take that position for myself, I am going to do the same for someone else. For a first time offense, I don't think a full court trial should be nescessary. Just a quick advisement to the guy to let him know that what he is doing is actually illegal and that he could be prosecuted. If he continues to violate that law, then I can understand prosecution on the matter and sentencing criminal penalties... unless that's what happened? BTW, right now I'm slightly intoxicated... jack and coke... mmmmmm..... so if any of you think I might be out of character to type any of this... or this post here... or if I'm not making any sense... or whatever... just hold off on sending me a PM till the morning. Right now I think I'm glad I'm home and not having to drive back from somewhere... been a rough couple of days. I'm going to hit the sack.

Edited by serverandenforcer

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While browsing in the field of US medals for my mods, I have learnt about the story of Admiral J.M. Boorda, USN CNO promoted from the enlisted ranks, who committed suicide in 1996 after a media investigation about 2 possibly usurpated Valor devices on 2 of his numerous and honestly awarded decorations. He wasn't even summoned by any Court. That's what I call a sense of spotless honor. Worth meditating.

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Of course, that's the same argument made about digital piracy. On the one side you have the rights holders claiming theft, but on the other you have no material goods taken (ie by the pirate's actions no one is deprived of the product themselves, unlike stealing an object from a store) only the nebulous claim of money lost IF the pirate had paid for it (when they just as easily might have skipped purchasing it and only took it because they could get it for free). Whether it was copied and enjoyed for free or passed by, the owner makes nothing, yet they'll spend obscene amounts of money on legal fees to prosecute someone who themselves made nothing off of it (and is likely incapable of paying back enough to even cover the court costs let alone the fines), thereby increasing their costs and the amount they need to charge to maintain their comfy profit margin.

 

In fact, I think I read a report that the RIAA spent 10x more on legal fees than it recovered in those actions and other settlements, calling their entire process into question.

 

Anyway, getting back to the original point, a claim made of "hero" status without an attempt to actually profit monetarily is indeed a sticky issue of fraud. Fraud usually implies money, but if instead all it does is get someone a table at a restaurant sooner or some hearty thanks that's undeserved, what is the fraud to be prosecuted? This law doesn't require proof of harm.

 

This is quite simply a law against telling a lie, not against profiting or injuring others because of the lie, and that's the problem. I know there's a military version of this law that prevents service members from claiming to have done things or received medals that they have not, but a civil version of such a law can't be that broad.

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So I guess I am confused here...... does the average opinion here is that it is OK for a guy to wear a fake uniform and wear unearned decorations and tell people of his hard work protecting them from god knows what? That is the disturbing thing about modern American society. No one has a sense of honor. Welcome to the end of our society. Those decorations are sacred items, not just some worthless trinket. To not slam the hell out of someone for wearing them with out earning them cheapens them for all citizens. I have seen people get there ass kicked physically in the Army for wearing unauthorized decorations. You must submit your DD-214 to get any type of Gov. tuition assistance VA services jobs , or whatever. Some one can't just say they were in the armed forces and get it. On a funny note......Why do people never impersonate E-3 cooks in the Coast Guard?

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Except he wasn't wearing a fake uniform and decorations, he was only claiming to have earned the medals. That is why the judge ruled the law unconstitutional: because it literally criminalizes any speech that is untrue according to the government.

 

This case isn't about impersonating a soldier or officer which already is illegal. It is about whether or not the government has the right to prosecute citizens for not telling the truth. Quite different, unless you're dense as a brick.

 

In fact, the real issue here is that the law is badly written and in effect functions as a blanket criminalization of untrue speech. I'm all for punishing morons who claim to be war heroes but any such law needs to be written specifically for that crime. But politicians and officials LOVE zero-tolerance type blanket bans because they do not require any complex thinking to enforce. Just point at the book and sentence, and they're helped by the kind of idiotic knee-jerk reactions as displayed in this thread.

Edited by Julhelm

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Well, you can't make it a law that everybody must be honorable, or that it is illegal to tell a lie. That's not practical, and honestly, it's kind of disturbing to have such a law. So, yeah, in a sense, it is ok for a guy to wear a fake uniform and to claim a whole bunch of B.S. I don't like it, I find it dispicable. However, I'm not going to enforce honor upon someone if they don't want to practice it unless that individual is serving in the armed forces. If they want to be a real POS and claim they did this and that when they really didn't, fine, let them. Honestly, being a member of the armed forces, it doesn't hurt me, and I really doubt that this will make people skeptical of those who really did serve. Wanting to go for full force on this guy is a bit too radical... it actually sounds like something that the Taliban would do to their own. The guy has been found out, we know he's not a war hero. Let's just laugh at him, tell him what kind of a fool he is, and call it a day. To go on and make a federal case over it makes us look childish. If you really want to prevent something like this from ever happening again, then make those uniforms and medals unaccessible to the average joe... but good luck in trying to get that to happen.

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Quite simply, it's not illegal to claim you've won any other awards--Oscar, Tony, World's Best Dad, Georgia's Best Steakhouse of 2008. Impersonating with intent to defraud is different from what this law criminalizes. Things like libel and slander are civic offenses, subject to fines, but this is a criminal offense with jail involved. If you allow this law, you are saying "well, you can say this and this, but if you say THAT we're throwing you in jail." That's quite clearly a violation of the 1st Amendment.

You can't let the fact that the guy is claiming a military award change the picture. He lied, and unless he's under oath in a court of law when he does so, it's reprenhensible but it can not be outlawed. You can't criminalize a lack of honor. Claiming it has any historical precedent in American society is also disingenuous. I don't think it was honorable to have children working in coal mines in the 19th century, was it? For every so-called "decline since the good-old days" you can easily find improvements to counter it.

The famous Voltaire quote states "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," and his works were an influence to the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. How many Americans have died to defend the Constitution? To say it's ok to flout those laws, if it's someone who disrespected those soldiers, is in itself disrespecting them! If the laws don't apply to all, they don't matter, and the Bill of Rights is just a farce. If you can argue against the 1st Amendment, you can equally invalidate the 2nd, or the 4th or 6th. So you could have your personal guns stripped away and then have the police come barging in on a fake pretext looking for something to arrest you for, like an "unapproved Bible", and then convicted in a trial with no jury without being told what you were charged with.

 

You don't have to like what they say, and you shouldn't, but you must allow it. That's what "free speech" means. Such a liar should be exposed and ridiculed by the community for their actions, but you can't throw them in jail.

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Am I really naive.....but I just don't see a scenario at all where our governments will become so totalitarian, I just read the article and think someone was just trying their damnedest to prosecute a scumbag who insults the honour of every service man/woman...I mean obviously this 'stolen valour' law has been around a while yet I haven't heard of anyone being raided for ownership of unauthorised bibles, so in short another liberal a**hole judge has pulled the freedom of speech card out of his ass and protected the rights of a scumbag.

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...Falsely claiming to be a police officer or being handicap to use certain privileges that comes with that status is a whole different issue mainly because of those certain special privileges. There are no special privileges attached to claiming being a war hero....

 

Living in a high density service retired city, I see many ads, cards and ties with mini-medals on them. They are usually worn when there is business being conducted. Now, without a DD-214 form in hand, I don't know for a fact if they are telling me the truth. I am very pro military and would lean towards awarding contracts to someone who risked their life or outdid themselves in any fashion while serving - it shows the type of character I would want working for me or representing me. Now, tell me again how there is nothing to gain monetarily from misrepresenting your military record, or lack of it?

 

I mention the policeman and handicapped person because it clearly illustrates what someone can easily get away with with a few lies. We aren't talking free speech in these cases but how people use free speech to perform fraud.

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Gentlemen, all good points indeed! But that does not change the fact that I think he needs his azz whooped! :grin: I am still waiting on some one to tell me they were an E-3 cook in the Coast Guard.............

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One should neither exaggerate nor denigrate their military service. Just putting on the uniform is tough enough...

In reality, I was an E4 in the US Army infantry and went to Airborne school and NBC Defense school... Pretty mundane compared to most veterans here! :salute:

For the record, for those who don't know the history behind my online handle, "Major Lee" is a fictional persona that dates back to my EAW flight sim days, my old, old website and some fictional stories I had written...

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It's simple.

 

I think everyone agrees here that the actual behavior the law was designed to discourage is reprehensible.

 

The question is simply if the law as it exists does more harm than good.

 

First, don't fool yourselves, there are always exceptions to every rule. For those who tout the 'slippery slope' of impinging on Freedom of Speech, I would remind you that yelling 'Fire!' in a crowded theater is a good way to get arrested. Most folks would agree that there should be consequences for your 'Free Speech' causing general public mayhem.

 

That being said, there are always dangers of setting precedent causing a snowball effect...otherwise known as 'the boiling frog' syndrome.

 

There is no question in the case of fraud, using fake credentials to attempt monetary gain....there are laws to address that sort of thing.

 

Is there immediate harm in verbally lying about something where the only tangible gain is respect you don't deserve? That's a good question. Certainly if one is taken in by such a faker, and finds out about it, he will tend to approach the next veteran he meets with greater guardedness and cynicism. Will this cause long term damage to society? Only if the problem becomes epidemic and drifts into fraud.

 

The best way to handle these idiots (besides taking them behind the woodshed for some wall to wall counseling), is to 'out' them whenever you find one. Let folks know, spread the word, embarrass the hell out of them. You'd be surprised how quickly the word gets around in this day of the internet. You can't really hide anymore in that respect.

 

FC

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