Paula Deen and Robert Kerkorian: Words From the Past

Paula Deen is held accountable for what she said and loses her job. Robert Kerkorian lies about his military service and is promoted to Chief of Waukegan Police. What’s wrong with this picture?

I cannot and will not defend Paula Deen, though I believe we as a culture have become ridiculously overly sensitive. Because she, a white woman, used a word that many black people use in casual conversation, she lost her job.  I don’t know the whole situation, and frankly, I don’t care. I always found her down-home Southern belle shtick a bit too smarmy for my taste, and her recipes, while tasty, not something I would consider to be part of a healthy lifestyle.

Meanwhile, a man who lied on his original employment application just ascended to the office of Chief of Police in Waukegan. In this case, there is no question of what he said or what he meant; this was a lie, put in writing, signed and sworn to under oath.

What is wrong with this country when the words of a third rate celebrity chef matter, but the sworn statement of an applicant to a police department doesn't?

Deen’s defenders say her remarks were more a product of the culture in which she was raised than reflective of a deep, personal animosity. Callous, perhaps even mean-spirited, but it’s not like she gained credibility, secured employment or was given professional respect because of her comments. The same cannot be said of Robert Kerkorian.

The new police chief has his defenders, too. Among them, the Mayor of Waukegan Wayne Motley, who served as a fellow police officer to Kerkorian. Both the mayor and the chief say lying on his application have no bearing on his fitness to fulfill the office to which he has been appointed. Kerkorian went so far as to say "Anything that preceded my employment here as a police officer has no bearing on my 26 years as a law enforcement officer here,".

Sorry, I beg to differ.

In any job, lying on an application is grounds for termination. When the job is that of an officer of the law, one would think the penalty for breaking the law in the application process would have bearing.

Was he a good police officer, respected and even admired by his contemporaries? It seems that is true. Is it possible this reflects an error, a youthful indiscretion and not a character flaw ? From the evidence, I have to go with the latter.

Rather than stand up and admit what he did was wrong, that he is embarrassed and ashamed of this lie, he is defensive and arrogant. I sincerely question his character and his respect for the law when he can blithely defend dishonoring himself and all those who have sworn the oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States. It is obvious what his word is worth when he thinks so little of those oaths he swore, first as a Navy recruit then as a policeman.

This error or mistake of his past followed by a refusal to admit the gravity of it goes to the heart of the issue. Back then it maybe, could be, somewhat excused as an excess of youth, a sign of immaturity; now, it is a mark of character, or lack thereof.

Lying about military service to secure profit or personal gain is nothing new. On nearly any barstool on any given day, you can hear tales of heroism from those who have never come closer to battle than the third row in a movie house while “Band of Brothers” flickered on the big screen. But now, finally, it is a federal, punishable offense.

The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 was signed into law by President Obama this month. In short, if you seek reward or recompense by making false claims to honors you did not earn and do not hold, you are subject to prosecution under this law. It will have no effect on the bar blowhards, but those who receive employment or other gains by making these false claims are impacted.

Claiming to have completed BUD/s training while in the Navy – for all of six months – on a job application for a police officer may or may not qualify as a violation of this law. Lying about your background 26 years ago may not be grounds for a charge of perjury, but it certainly raises questions about character. Particularly when those questions are dismissed as “not relevant”.

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    Denise Williams

    Born and bred in Chicago, now living in the wilds of far suburbia. I'm a Gold Star Mom, a wife and step-mom to two terrific boys. My views are generally politically and socially conservative, though I am far from a Party line Republican. I believe in this country, our Constitution and above all, in the right 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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