Being legal does not mean being right

Being legal does not mean being right

The right to free speech can be horribly abused. And that is a good thing.

Elven Joe Swisher was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1957 following the Korean War.

Now in his late 70s, Swisher proudly wears the Purple Heart and the Silver Star as a constant reminder of his faithful service to the United States Military.

The only problem is that he did not earn those medals.

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Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco ruled that Swisher could indeed wear the service medals, despite the fact that he did not actually earn them.

The court deemed that his actions were a form of free speech. A ruling like this one is truly lamentable. To think that the constitution protects an individual’s right to knowingly misrepresent himself, especially with regard to a matter as dignified as service in the military, is repugnant.

But there should not be an effort to overturn the ruling. The simple (and equally disconcerting) fact is that  Swisher’s actions are probably a valid form of free speech, however unsettling they may be.

But there is undeniably a line between constitutionally permissible actions and behavior that displays a woeful lack of common decency.

Just because Swisher’s decision to wear the medals he did not earn is legally protected, does not mean that he should wear them.

It merely suggests that he has the right to wear them. Yet, we would live in a very dangerous world if all of us did absolutely everything that is legally protected.

Consider the ruling that the Supreme Court handed down in 1977 in National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, a case that dealt with a neo-Nazi organization’s attempt to march through a predominantly Jewish neighborhood displaying swastikas.

In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that Frank Collin (the leader of the group) and his fellow organization members had the right to march in the neighborhood, despite the fact that approximately one sixth of the locality’s population was a Holocaust survivor or was related to one.

To be sure, the actions of  Collin and his constituents are in no way equal in severity to  Swisher’s choice to wear the service badges he did not earn; clearly the neo-Nazi group’s demonstration is far worse.

However, both the Skokie decision and  Swisher’s case illustrate the idea that one’s own moral conscience should supersede all else.

There is a reason that most Americans do not wave Swastikas in the faces of Holocaust survivors even though such an action is legally permitted. It is because they know the difference between what is legal and what is right.

The constitution protects the actions of  Collin and  Swisher, but it does not say that those same actions are morally upstanding.

But perhaps that is the nature of freedom of speech in this country.

While it is undoubtedly alarming that we live in a nation where men can wear service medals they did not earn, and that we live in a nation where flaunting swastikas in the faces of Holocaust survivors is permitted, it is equally astonishing that such actions do not cause our nation to burst at the seams.

We hold freedom in higher regard than any other nation in the world, and it certainly comes with a steep price.

However, our own reckless abuse of freedom of speech is actually a manifestation of how strong of a nation we really are.

The liberty to do and say whatever one pleases, no matter how appalling those actions are, is truly a right that exists in only one nation on this Earth.      

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    JB SmithJan 27, 2016 at 11:37 am

    The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and the brain initiative are the worst scams ever perpetrated on the American people. Former U. S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin Warns: Biochips Hazardous to Your Health: Warning, biochips may cause behavioral changes and high suicide rates.
    State Attorney Generals are to revoke the licenses of doctors and dentists that implant chips in patients. Chip used illegally for GPS, tracking, organized crime, communication and torture. Virginia state police have been implanting citizens without their knowledge and consent for years and they are dying! Check out William and Mary’s site to see the torture enabled by the biochip and the Active Denial System. See Terrorism and Mental Health by Amin Gadit or A Note on Uberveillance by MG & Katina Michael or Safeguards in a World of Ambient Intelligence by Springer or Mind Control,
    Microchip Implants and Cybernetics. Check out the audio spotlight by Holosonics. The truth is the biochip works like a sim card. It received pulsed modulated laser beams and millimeter wave which it
    converts into electromagnetic waves that your brain interprets into digital images and sound. It then takes what your brain sees and hears and converts electromagnetic waves into digital and acoustic waves that a computer translates into audio and video. In other words, it allows law enforcement to see what you see, hear what you hear and communicate directly with your brain.
    “Former Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) director and now Google Executive, Regina E. Dugan, has unveiled a super small, ingestible microchip that we can all be expected to swallow by 2017. “A means of authentication,” she calls it, also called an electronic tattoo, which takes
    NSA spying to whole new levels. She talks of the ‘mechanical mismatch problem between machines and humans,’ and specifically targets 10 – 20 year olds in her rant about the wonderful qualities of this new technology that can stretch in the human body and still be functional. Hailed as a ‘critical shift for
    research and medicine,’ these biochips would not only allow full access to insurance companies and government agencies to our pharmaceutical med-taking compliancy (or lack thereof), but also a host of other aspects of our lives which are truly none of their business, and certainly an extension of the
    removal of our freedoms and rights.” Google News
    The ARRA authorizes payments to the states in an effort to encourage Medicaid Providers to adopt and use “certified EHR technology” aka biochips. ARRA will match Medicaid $5 for every $1 a
    state provides. Hospitals are paid $2 million to create “crisis stabilization wards” (Gitmo’s) where state police torture people – even unto death. They stopped my heart 90 times in 6 hours. Virginia Beach EMT’s were called to the scene. Mary E. Schloendorff, v. The Society of New York Hospital 105 N. E. 92, 93 (N. Y. 1914) Justice Cardozo states, “every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body; and a surgeon who performs an operation
    without his patient’s consent, commits an assault, for which he is liable in damages. (Pratt v Davis, 224 Ill. 300; Mohr v Williams, 95 Minn. 261.) This case precedent requires police to falsely arrest you or kidnap you and call you a mental health patient in order to force the implant on you. You can also be forced to have a biochip if you have an infectious disease – like Eboli or Aids. Coalition of Justice vs the City of Hampton, VA settled a case out of court for $500,000 and removal of the biochip. Torture is
    punishable by $1,000 per day up to $2 million; Medical battery is worth $2.05 million. They told my family it was the brain initiative. I checked with the oversight board, and it is not! Mark Warner told me it was research with the Active Denial System by the College of William and Mary, the USAF, and state and local law enforcement. It is called IBEX and it is excruciating. I have had 3 surgeries at the site of the implant and need another. It causes cancer! I’ve been tortured for 8 years by Virginia law enforcement.