The Definition of Valor

While everyone is focused on the Supreme Court’s decision on Obama Care, the Court issued another decision the very same day on a case I’ve been following. With the 4th of July just around the corner, this decision should be getting a lot more media attention. This case and this decision speaks to the heart of the Constitution and those willing to defend it with their lives.

The case of the United States v. Alvarez is the first to be heard by the Supreme Court challenging the Stolen Valor Act of 2007. The 6-3 ruling of the high court to strike down the law as unconstitutional, citing violation of First Amendment rights has left me feeling very conflicted.

On the one hand, I’m an absolute defender of the First Amendment. Let’s face it, without the protections it provides, there are a  lot of things I’ve said for which I would be answering.

On the other hand, I want to disagree with the ruling and the reasoning in this decision. I want to say that on this subject,  protection under the First Amendment does not apply. I really want to, but I just can’t. Sometimes I really hate agreeing with people’s rights to be, for lack of a better term and to keep it PG, bad people.

The concept of the Stolen Valor Act is one I applaud. Yes, it absolutely without a doubt should be a crime, punishable by the most heinous torture to claim military awards one has not received. More than being merely criminal, it is an abomination and an insult to all those who have put their lives at risk in such a notable or remarkable way that they have genuinely earned those honors.

The bare bones of the case are that Mr. Alvarez, who was an elected member of a California water board, publicly claimed to be a Medal of Honor recipient. Turns out, he never even served in the military.

The liar was charged, prosecuted and convicted in Federal court. He appealed and won, not on the basis of innocence, but on the argument that the law itself is unconstitutional. The U.S. District Attorney took the case to the Supreme Court, who agreed with the lower court’s ruling.

Mr. Alvarez is a liar, a scoundrel and a jerk. I’m merely paraphrasing his defense team in their brief to the Supreme Court, in which they also called him cretinous. Their argument was a brilliant piece of legal strategy, proving that very little can and should be prohibited speech. How I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for the conversation between the cretinous jerk and his lawyers on the strategy for his defense.

Clever attorney, “Yes, you are scum, a true bottom feeder, but we’ll defend your right to be just that to the highest court in the land”

Lying pussbag client, “Umm, gee, thanks?”

While I seem to be making light of this situation, it is only because the other option is to scream in frustration. I agreed with the
Stolen Valor Act, what it meant and what it represented. It was intended to protect the dignity and solemnity of the honors bestowed on a select few for deeds most could or would not dare.

I would have liked to have seen the Stolen Valor Act upheld, at least in theory. Perhaps it is worded too loosely, attempts to cover too much ground and does violate the principles of the First Amendment. Still, there should be criminal consequences for the likes of Mr. Alvarez, who have so little regard for the meaning of the word honor.

Those who lie about having received these awards are the antithesis of everything the medals represent. They are also polar opposites of those remarkable young men and women who have earned these awards. Though I have never met a Medal of Honor recipient, I know several soldiers who have earned the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and one who just this past April received the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest medal that can be awarded.

Without exception in my experience, these are some of the most humble people I have ever met. They invariably turn the conversation away from themselves and instead talk about their teammates, the men and women they served with who, according to their telling, are just as deserving of the award, and without whom they would not have been able to do whatever it is they did. They are often obviously, even painfully uncomfortable being called heroes, and are quick to tell you who the real heroes are in their eyes.

All of these are character traits that led them to behave as they did in that critical moment, traits obviously missing in those who lie about being a recipient of these awards. It would be easy to say that theirs is a false modesty, one they are displaying because it would be unseemly to do otherwise. However, their actions belie that accusation, evidenced by the fact that they did the deed that earned them the medal.

Contrast the actions, words and character of this lying scoundrel, this cretinous jerk with that of the young man in the following
video and see if you too don’t wish for harsher penalties for those who pretend to be men they are not and never could be outside a video game or the confines of their small, twisted little minds.

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    Denise Williams

    Views and opinions from the Gold Star, Military and Veteran perspective are generally different from those of the civilian world. Much of what I write is "their" stories, as told to me as the Gold Star Mother of PFC Andrew Meari, KIA 11/1/10 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. This is how I continue to honor the Oath my son took. I don't like labels or boxes as the former is insufficient to describe a person and the latter limits a person but if you insist, call me a Progressive Republican. I believe in this country, our Constitution and above all, in the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believe our government is supposed to serve the people, not tell them how to live. To me, this is just common sense but since it seems to be a minority opinion, it has become "Uncommon Sense".

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