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The Stolen Valor Act: This Time I Agree with the Government

I think that I am the only member of the First Amendment Lawyers’ Association who thinks that the Stolen Valor Act should be upheld. The Act makes it unlawful to falsely claim that you were awarded a military medal. The 9th Circuit struck down the law:

“The sad fact is, most people lie about some aspects of their lives from time to time,” wrote Judge Milan Smith in a 2-1 decision. “Given our historical skepticism of permitting the government to police the line between truth and falsity, and between valuable speech and drivel, we presumptively protect all speech, including false statements.” (source)

If I put an “Intel Inside” label on a box of used pinball machine parts, I can be held civilly liable for trademark infringement. If I put a fake “Coach” label on a handbag, I can be held civilly and criminally liable for counterfeiting. What is so objectionable about holding an asshole responsible for lying about receiving the Medal of Honor?

Personally, if I wrote the laws, I would not criminalize lying about receiving a medal. I think that we should privatize the justice in that circumstance. If I wrote the law, it would state:

It shall be an absolute defense to battery, if that battery does not cause death or serious permanent injury, if the battered party lied about receiving a military honor that he did not actually earn, and the battering party was a current or former member of the armed forces, and the beating was administered solely as punishment for the lie.

I’ve said it many times: The First Amendment may prohibit the Government from punishing you, but that should not exempt you from an ass kicking.

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