Free Speech and the Courage To Lie
by Jansen Estrup
Largely missed in all of the excitement about the Obamacare decision is an earlier one which reaffirmed First Amendment rights to lie about anything, in this case military decorations.
It is not surprising and perhaps that is why our Founders discouraged military honors of all sorts. It was not until the War of the Rebellion (1861-1865) that an award (The Good Conduct Medal) was given for extraordinary bravery.
My friend Frank James Morgan (1916-1985) served from Pearl Harbor to the Japanese Occupation and earned 3 medals including the Good Conduct Medal (which by then was awarded for staying out of trouble).
By the Cold War/Viet Nam the medals and ribbons were getting so numerous it was hard to keep track of them and someone discovered that the USAF gave out far more chest salad than the USN so the Navy began giving ribbons, medals and badges for all manner of stuff.
But later, after Viet Nam, a serving Chief of Naval Operations committed suicide when his claim to deserve an obscure campaign medal became controversial. Meanwhile another citizen fraudulently wore the Medal of Honor and was exhonorated by the recent Supreme Court decision.
Recently I saw a general officer on TV who was decked out like a British royal or Soviet commissar. Today anyone in uniform is called a hero by the press corps, even security guards and TSA agents.
So who is a liar and who is a hero? How can we know? It all seems diluted, distasteful and rather murky ...