Editorial: Remember, freedom includes responsibility

This week we celebrate freedom. For some of us that means backyard barbecues, pool parties, watching baseball from the recliner or watching Saturday's fireworks display at Ute Lake.

Some also will celebrate our independence with our own fireworks purchased at roadside stands scattered throughout the region.

All such celebrations are great; we just urge caution when using fire, especially in the tinderbox conditions we're experiencing again this summer.

Our cities, counties and states have issued guidelines for using fireworks, and violation of those rules can result in fines and even jail time.

In addition to what "the law" has declared, it's also each individual's responsibility to replace any property damaged or destroyed by irresponsible actions.

If anyone thinks that never happens, just look at the rubble left behind at 1603 E. Brady in Clovis.

Police said three children, ages 7 to 10, were seen playing with fireworks Monday night just before the abandoned trailer caught fire and was destroyed.

We don't want to dampen the celebration of freedom, we just want to remind that liberty comes with responsibility.

Happy Fourth, everyone.

Stolen Valor Act ruling proper

You certainly steal your own honor if you do so, but you cannot steal valor by lying about the medals you earn while serving in the United States military.

Or, more pointedly, Americans still have the right to be stupid if they so choose.

That, in essence, is what the Supreme Court correctly ruled last week by a 6-3 majority in declaring the Stolen Valor Act was unconstitutional because it violated our First Amendment right of free speech.

The ruling has upset some who recognize, honor and support real deeds and medals earned by truthful military patriots.

It should not.

Speech is protected with few exceptions. Men and women are caught lying about their activities and actions all the time, but like this effort to protect valor, these types of lies do not fit the few speech restrictions the court has recognized: incitement, obscenity, defamation, speech integral to criminal conduct, "fighting words," child pornography, fraud, true threats, and speech presenting some grave and imminent threat the government has the right to prevent.

From another angle, think of this ruling if the Stolen Valor Act had been about members of Congress, the White House, the county courthouse or City Hall?

You think it is hard to find the next Honest Abe now? Imagine the difficulty then.

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