Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Stolen Valor Case

The Supreme Court apparently is going to take up another controversial First Amendment case that pits those who want to punish people falsely claiming military honors against those who believe free speech should have few limits.

I'm inclined to go with public shaming when someone falsely claims to have won a Medal of Honor or suffered as a prisoner of war.  Anyone who sees old vets sit around telling literal war stories knows how they get embellished after a while, so I've never understood how the atrociously named Stolen Valor Act (it's not the valor that's stolen; it's the honor) could be applied. Just where's the line?

That's not to say we should excuse people who stand up at public meetings or run for office while claiming credit for service they didn't render or awards they didn't earn. There's where public shaming comes in. Thanks to the internet, there's plenty of ways to track down every POW, every Medal of Honor winner, even everyone who ever made it to SEAL training.

No need for a federal law. Let the First Amendment prevail. And maybe a set of stocks for those who are legends in their own minds.

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