First Amendment Trumps Stolen Valor Act

Wanna steal valor? Claim you are a Medal of Honor recipient having never served a day in the military? Don a general officer uniform and go on the speaking circuit?

California’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a man convicted under the Stolen Valor Act, finding the law unconstitutional. The court ruled the three-year-old edict violated the free speech rights of Xavier Alvarez, who falsely claimed to be a Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient.

The court in its 2-1 decision found Alvarez’s lie harmed no one, and there is no reason the government should legislate on lies of this nature.

The court has a point.

While people may find Alvarez’s actions abhorrent, are they criminal? He lied. He misrepresented himself. Is this a crime?

Is the person who misrepresents himself or herself on a resume guilty of a similar crime? Let’s say they claim to be a Nobel Prize recipient. Or a Pulitzer winner. Crime? Probably not. Against societal conventions? Maybe.

People lie about who they are. Men and women misrepresent marital status. Sure there may be legal repercussions in divorce court, but is the misrepresentation a crime? A man passes himself off as a women. Has he committed a crime or is he just a transvestite? Some guy poses as a war hero or multi-star big guy. Crime? I am not an attorney, but as the court ruled, if the lie hurts no one, it is simply a lie and within an individual’s constitutionally protected rights.

The counter argument may be the lie hurts veterans and society as a whole, but it seems this “damage” cannot be quantified to the court’s satisfaction. It is just a lie. A misrepresentation. Not a crime.

The guy down the street falsely prancing as a two star – a rank this person never achieved. Why not expose him publicly and make sure as many as people as possible know that this guy is a valor monger? Call the media. Churn out a press release. Strip this person of his or her dignity.

Expose him or her for the liar and thief they are. Is that not sufficient? The court deal would be a welcome respite from the community embarrassment. Dispense with the legal drama here. Too many seem to have jumped on this stolen valor train to nowhere. We now thank veterans for their service out of some sense of awkward societal obligation.

Show me the valor poser, and I will show you a sad, lost person.

For the living valor mongers, let the court of public opinion make its judgment.

Does anyone out there have an opinion on posers and the stolen valor decision?

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