Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stealing Valor is Free Speech?

"...A law that makes it illegal to lie about being a war hero is unconstitutional because it violates free speech, a federal judge ruled Friday as he dismissed a case against a Colorado man who claimed he received two military medals.

Rick Glen Strandlof claimed he was an ex-Marine who was wounded in Iraq and received the Purple Heart and Silver Star, but the military had no record he ever served. He was charged with violating the Stolen Valor Act, which makes it a crime punishable by up to a year in jail to falsely claim to have won a military medal.

U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn dismissed the case and said the law is unconstitutional, ruling the government did not show it has a compelling reason to restrict that type of statement..." (source)

This is a REALLY hard one for me. You know I'm as pro-service member and veteran as a civilian can be, BUT... I vacillate here. As despicable as it is to lie about serving your country (or to hold signs that say "God hates Fags" outside of a funeral), are we going to legislate all lying and uncomfortable speech or just some? Is Stolen Valor going to apply to the guy who uses the false information on a resume or the guy trying to get laid when he's out of town?

The emotional side of me wants lying about service to be illegal (especially when I read the stories of the guys throwing themselves on grenades to save their 'brothers'), but the logical side begrudgingly agrees with the judge...we have to embrace free speech --even when it sucks. Right?

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