<< The Body Politic

Mid-week roundup

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Alabama State Capitol

Some recent happenings in the citizenship world:

  • The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) continues to release state-level civic health indexes, most recently for Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Alabama. The Alabama index, published just last week, is the first-ever report on civic health in the state, and finds that Alabama out-performs national trends in public work, including attending meetings and working with neighbors to solve problems. Alabamians ranked 4th in the nation for doing favors for neighbors and 7th in the nation for talking with neighbors.
  • Writing in The Atlantic, Lindsay Windsor and Arthur Rizer argue in favor of the Stolen Valor Act, a law passed by Congress in 2006 that makes it a crime to lie about being awarded a military honor, such as the Purple Heart or the Medal of Honor. Last October, the Supreme Court agreed to consider the validity of the law under the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. Windsor and Rizer write that “When Congress spoke of how ‘imposters . . . cheapen the value of these honors,’ it didn’t mean that the Medal of Honor becomes worth less in dollar value on the black market. They meant that there is a cost to each military hero and to the American people for each of these lies. […] Because someone who falsely claims these honors cheats his audience, dilutes the positive perception of the honors, and benefits in tangible ways from his fraud, these lies are not and should not be protected by the Constitution.”
  • New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof has a moving article examining the extreme hardships faced by returning veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. He writes that “estimates of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury vary widely, but a ballpark figure is that the problems afflict at least one in five veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq. One study found that by their third or fourth tours in Iraq or Afghanistan, more than one-quarter of soldiers had such mental health problems.” As the mother of two soldiers with PTSD–one of whom died of a possible suicide–said, “these are guys who went through so much. If anybody deserves help, it’s them.” Read the whole article here.