The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 was ruled out by the Supreme Court, by a vote of 6-3 (as of 06/28/2012). Enacted by the 109th Congress, January of 2006; its main purpose was to “enhance protections relating to the reputation and meaning of the Medal of Honor and other military decorations and awards, and for other purposes.”
As absurd as it may sound, the First Amendment of our Constitution seems to have been used as a basis for the argument. Where to draw the line on Free Speech has long been a valid question; but to what end? It doesn’t seem quite right for someone to impersonate a person in the military, former or current. Even more so, if there was something to gain by doing so.
…enhance protections relating to the reputation and meaning of the Medal of Honor and other military decorations and awards, and for other purposes.”
To believe that this is a question pertaining to the the First Amendment would be an ill-conceited notion. To say that, would be to say that giving false information is protected under the First Amendment. A common example for this is found in the Supreme Court ruling of Schenck v. United States, where Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr stated that, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.” In a roundabout way, this means that in certain circumstances, giving false information cannot in good faith be allowed. The scope of the ruling was narrowed in the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio to mean that banned speech only included speech that would likely incite imminent lawless action. In some situations, this act could lead to such an imminent lawless action. Therefore the act should be avoided altogether so someone would not think of it as appropriate. I will be the first to say that I believe in freedom of speech and I am completely against censorship, but this is an instance where censorship should be present. I find it unfathomable to think that the Stolen Valor Act would even be considered as an act of Censorship by the government. Honestly, how could pretending be military personnel be considered as free speech, while impersonating Law Enforcement is a punishable offence?
Military personnel, whether they be of the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, or the National Guard, are highly-regarded person(s) in our American society. They are the brave souls who place their lives on the line to protect/insure our freedoms that many of us take for granted. With that said, the act of impersonating military personnel is blatant mockery and a slap in the face of anyone who has ever worn a military uniform! To anyone that is/has been in the military; I humbly salute you, because it is all of you who are the true Constitutional Knights!
Question to ponder: How is impersonating someone in the military (past or present) different than impersonating a Law Enforcement? Remember that technically, one has to dress as a Law Enforcement officer, or merely wave a badge to be considered as an impostor.
What do you guys think? Please leave your comments and/or questions below.
Posted by: Michael W. Stone,
A Contributor to The Constitutional Knight