But laws rely, in considerable measure, on the support of the people, and i don’t think that general popular disgust or annoyance with an action should be sufficient cause to make it illegal. We shouldn’t say that we’re going to throw someone in prison simply for doing something that we don’t like, especially when what he’s doing is really nothing more than a form of expression that causes no material harm to anyone.
In a nation that values freedom of expression, you have the right to call someone a shitbird or a moron, and to ridicule them for what they say and do, but you don’t have the right not to be offended. I adopt the same logic in arguing against laws outlawing hate speech (except in cases where it is a direct incitement to violence).
I hope you get a definitive answer to this. I have one as well, though not from a relative (the Paul Dubois Victory Angel version) and kind of wanted to wear it as a pendant on a necklace. Should I not do this? I wouldn’t want to run afoul of the law or offend anyone who actually is a veteran or has a relative who earned that specific medal.
Edit, just to clarify: I have no intention of making people think I’m a member of the armed forces (not that I have to actually disabuse people of that notion - it’s obvious just from looking at me that I’m not and never have been) or to disrespect those who are/were. I just think it’s beautiful.
I’d argue that this is different. It’s quite a stretch, IMO, to say that Joe Schmo wearing the unearned uniform and medals is “expressing” himself. He’s actively and fraudulently trying to pass himself off as something he’s not. Not a big deal if he’s impersonating a plumber, but that’s not a volunteer service which defends the country at risk of your life. I’d be happy to support any law that outlaws impersonation of police, firefighters, military, etc.
This is why I’m fine with people wearing awards out of remembrance. These people aren’t going to lie about where the award came from if asked.
I’ve already said that i support laws against impersonating a police officer, or some other public official in the performance of their duty. Their are immediate public safety concerns that make such laws necessary. Wearing a military uniform and medals to a party? Completely different.
There are two different federal offenses that are being conflated here: impersonating a member of the military and wearing unearned awards.
While I strongly think that both of these deceptions should be against the law (which is currently the case), if we are going to discuss the merits of the laws in question, it would be helpful to discuss the two issues separately.
Allowing people to impersonate members of our Armed Forces could have real national security implications. Just like we have laws prohibiting someone from impersonating a police officer, we have laws prohibiting people from impersonating members of the military. I would think it would be obvious why allowing this (which is what decriminalization equates to) is a bad idea. Marine Corps officer command Marines. U.S. Marines guard the President, military installations, embassies, nuclear weapons, etc. It is a really bad idea to allow fake Marine officers to be running around with impunity.
The other issue is that of wearing unearned medals. This is less of a case of having national security implications and more of a “stolen valor” issue. While I also think that this should be illegal, I will admit that this is somewhat of an emotional reaction. Allowing people to wear unearned medals debases the awards in question, just like counterfeit money debases currency.
After reading your comment I understand better why it’s illegal to impersonate a member of the Armed Forces. I still think that intent should be considered when levying charges against somebody. In this case, I think the guy is a douchetard but I don’t think he should be charged with a criminal offense.
Well, that and the fact that the guy was wearing pretty much every medal ever awarded in the history of organized warfare. All he needed were a few Battlestar Galactica medals and a commendation from President Roslin to top it off.
If you’re going to fake being a soldier, try to aim a little lower than Alexander the Great.
Ordinary service people are pretty ordinary. Can be, anyway. I’ve known folks in the U.S. and Canadian armed services you would never pick out, unless they were in uniform, as “Hey, there’s a soldier.” Including myself.
You can plop almost anyone in a uniform and they’d pass muster just to look at them. Where this guy failed was in trying to look like Audie Murphy, which is going to set off anyone’s alarm bells and would make it very, very easy to poke holes in his backstory.
You accuse me of conflating laws, and then go ahead an conflate complete different situation. We’re not talking about a guy trying to get access to classified materials here; we’re talking about a moron at a school reunion. I have no trouble with laws forbidding the impersonating of a military officer in cases where the impersonation has any security or true authority implications. But some idiot walking around the mall or going to a party in uniform does not make for a security crisis.
Also, are you telling me that someone turning up to an embassy or a marine corps base or the White House in a uniform would gain access on the strength of the uniform alone? No papers, no orders, no identification, no cross-checking of a list that permits access to certain persons, and not to others?
If that’s the case, then i submit that this country has bigger fucking security problems than some douchebag wearing a uniform to a school reunion. If all it takes to breach our national security is some pressed green pants and a short haircut, then we’re in big trouble.
No such things as “stolen valor,” except in the minds of Orwellian doublespeakers, and your currency analogy is completely ridiculous.
I don’t have a problem with people wearing their relatives’ medals in ANZAC Day/Armistice Day/Other Military Memorial Services events (it’s actually encouraged here as a way of getting “the younger generation” involved in it) but pretending to be a soldier with medals at a social event like a school reunion? Dick move.
I’m not sure I support it being illegal (except in the cases of Outstanding Valour medals like the Victoria Cross, perhaps), although I can understand why it is.
Point taken but in the real world people get complacent and “looking right” will get you past a surprising amount of security. I was helping our property management division out this spring, and just carrying a clipboard would get me into the back rooms and offices of practically any office and store in the strip malls we managed (where I was often left alone while they went to tend to the business up front) and I was never ONCE asked for an ID. Granted I look kind of authoritative, but still that clipboard was a magic totem.
On anther board that I lurk on, with members from many countries, this issue came up once. It was interesting that there was a sharp divide on this point between the US members and the Commonwealth members. Most of the US members said you should never wear someone else’s medals, but many of the Commonwealth posters saw nothing wrong with it, especially around Remembrance Day or similar events, provided there was no attempt to pass the medals off as your own. Wearing them on the right chest was one acceptable way to make it clear that the medals weren’t your own, and that you were wearing them to honour a family member who had served.
Hmmm, interesting. I had a couple years of ROTC in high school, taught by retired officers, and we were in uniform every Friday. I wonder where that would fall in the exceptions to the code.
*While attending a course of military instruction conducted by the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps, a civilian may wear the uniform prescribed by that armed force if the wear of such uniform is specifically authorized under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the military department concerned. *
That sounds about right for my experience in school, except that our ROTC course was offered by our school, not conducted by the armed forces itself AFAIK. Maybe it was this:
*Members of any other organization designated by the Secretary of a military department. *
I think many see it as the family member “standing in” for (as well as honouring) the deceased veteran. Great-Grandad may have served in WWII, but has subsequently passed away (and so can no longer participate in marches/ceremonies); so a family member “stands in”, wearing the medals on the opposite side of their chest. Thus, they are still honouring the veteran, as well as appearing on their behalf.
It’s very moving to see people wearing their parents/grandparents/great-grandparents/etc medals at ANZAC marches, IMHO- a very poignant reminder that their service and valour hasn’t been forgotten and is still honoured and appreciated.
That’s an entirely different kettle of fish to wearing grandad’s medals to a high school reunion or something, though.
So in your ideal world, we can prohibit people from impersonating a military officer only if they are in the act of committing a crime? Should we also only prohibit people from impersonating a police officer if they are actually caught in the act of illegally arresting people?
So let me get this straight. You have no problem with someone dressing up as a Marine officer. Why do you have a problem with them also forging an ID card and a base pass? You know, just to make the whole effect complete. :rolleyes:
In any event, why do we have to allow anybody to get this far? Gaining access to a base could start with befriending an actual servicemember at a high school reunion, after all. Ideally, yes, it would take much more than just a uniform to do some damage. But why take the chance in the first place?
I respectfully disagree. I actually thought it was a pretty good analogy. Why do you think that nations prosecute counterfeiters so harshly? They’re just scraps of paper, after all.
In any event, I’ll try a different analogy. Military awards, like college diplomas, are meaningless scraps of paper and/or cloth in and of themselves. Their importance lies in their authenticity and the fact that they are not just handed out. Indeed, a college degree from some diploma mill is in fact worthless because it is just handed out, while a degree from a respected institution such as Harvard is valuable simply because it is well known how difficult it is to be awarded such a diploma. Should Harvard relax its admissions criteria, or decide to start handing degrees out left and right, the value of its degrees would drop. If it were not illegal to forge a Harvard diploma, and this practice became commonplace, the same would happen.
The same is true for military decorations and awards. I don’t think you people have any conception of what the criteria is for a Navy Cross. It is awarded for valor in combat and is second in precedence only to the Medal of Honor. Like the Medal of Honor, it is frequently awarded posthumously. When imposters wear unearned awards like these and others, it debases the award. If impostors could do this with impunity, the number of impostors would quickly outnumber the actual awardees. At that point, the award becomes worthless.
You have got to be kidding me. I wonder: are any of you guys veterans?
In any event, where in your copy of the Constitution does it protect the right to defraud people? Where does it give the right to impersonate a commissioned officer?
This has absolutely nothing to do with hurting anybody’s feelings. I’d add more, but we’re not in the Pit, and it wouldn’t add much to the discussion, anyway.
I have one of those shiny Constitutions with the First Amendment intact. If you’d like to sidetrack into fraud and other strawmen, have at it – I don’t think anyone has had a difficult time distinguishing between douching it up at a highschool reunion and sneaking onto military bases.
But if you want to continue to defame the Constitution by criminalizing speech, understand that that’s more repugnant than flag burning, and far more insulting to the honor of those who served to protect the Constitution.