JonLovitz, the former Saturday Night Live comedian, had a great comedic routine. He would start out with a small lie then layer lie after lie on top of it until his little white lie was a massive whopper. While most of us at one time or another have told a white lie, constitutionally how far away from being an act of free speech is lying or not lying? Are you protected under the Constitution if you tell a lie? Apparently it is against the law to lie about your military background to the level that the Supreme Court is willing to hear a case about it!
For those who do not already know, Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act in 2006, making it illegal to lie about your military background. And here I have been telling people that Congress did absolutely nothing in 2006, 07 or 08 for that matter! Apparently in one of those years that would be a lie!
Lying about your military honors however has become an issue. It is not usual to hear people lie about big events or things that happened in the past. How often have you heard someone tell you they were at Woodstock? Yeah right. And I have seen a lot of resumes over the years that list military service for people who would have been far too young to serve where they said they did. It’s all check able folks!
Maybe it is just human nature to embellish, but is it this an issue that the Supreme Court of the United States needs to look in too? Has lying raised itself from an issue parents dealt with using a bar of soap to an issue worthy of Supreme Court action? Apparently so.
The whole mess started when a local councilman in California, lied about his military service. He was caught and fined $5, 000 dollars. He appealed and the appeal, as appeals often do, has taken on a life of it’s own. The issue has gone from lying about being a retired Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor, to an issue of everyone lies, what’s the big deal? Citing his, “everyone lies,” defense he and has lawyers have decided that what if the truth police decided to check everyone out we would all then be subject to fines and even imprisonment for lying. But how many of you tell people you got a Purple Heart?
In addition, the defense has thrown in candidate speak as a correlation to this issue. Being that the man who lied about his military service was serving as a politician when he got called on his lying, thus making that a relevant part of the case. How many political candidates are crossing the line with their negative speech ads as they are pursing political aspirations? How many elected officials find themselves asking what were they thinking by making campaign promises they knew they would never keep?
For sure you can’t lie to grand juries, on your taxes, to Congress, third grade teachers and your mother if you know what’s good for you. But if lying is part of free speech, where does one go to find the truth? Congress may have to go to work again on that law they passed in 08’ about lying about your Military Honors if lying is allowable on something as personal as a Military record. But where do the rest of us go when lying is just as much a part of free speech as telling the truth?