You can dust off your Fake Medal of Honor now. We both know the Supreme Court just ruled that your lies about winning medals and serving in the military are protected by the First Amendment. The justices said they struck down the Stolen Valor Act because the way it was written was too broad and opened the door to making every social lie we tell prosecutable.
You know what? That doesn’t make it OK to tell me you are a Navy SEAL. That doesn’t make it OK for you to wear a uniform at your wedding because you think it looks good. That doesn’t make it OK to swear you were wounded at Fallujah when you can’t find it on a map.
Because even though faking military service isn’t illegal, it is still a crime to me. It is still a crime to most people who have served in the military and to all those who have lost a service member in their family.
Sure, you will fool a lot of people with your lies. Stolen Valor is easier than ever. From medal manufacturers to EBay to Photoshop, our tech savvy world makes faking an honorable past a simple thing to do.
It doesn’t hurt that there are fewer people out there to catch you at it. Sure, you might run into one of the big dogs of Stolen Valor. Your case might get seen by B.G. Burkett, Doug Sterner, Don Shipley, or Tom Cottone. But what are the chances?
Fewer people serve in the military than ever. I haven’t. Most Americans don’t even know anyone in the military. Most Americans are good people who could not imagine telling a lie that heinous. So they will probably believe you.
I won’t. You should know that the initial reporters of military imposters are not human resources departments doing a background check. They aren’t women dating SEALs who claim secret service. They aren’t mortgage companies or public defenders or police officers or newspaper reporters or Congressmen. Initial reports of military imposters are started by military members or former military members who recognize discrepancies in the stories told by imposters.
BE WARNED: Some of these people will confront you in public. Some will come to you in private demanding to know they name of your swim buddy or what you did on which SEAL team. Some will go right to the press.
Me, I’m no confronter. I will recognize that your story is too improbable then try to hide my contempt from you. I will fail. You will see it in my face. You will catch it in the way I do everything I can to get away from you. I will back new legislation for the Stolen Valor Act.
Because it is coming. Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nevada) is a colonel in the Army Reserve. He has already vowed to sponsor legislation making it a crime to seek a benefit by lying about military service. The Supreme Court has already indicated that a more narrowly drawn law that makes it a crime to seek money or other benefit by claiming to have military medal might just get passed.
Lying about military service might now be legal. But it is still a crime to steal the respect and gratitude our society awards to those who have sacrificed so much in the service of our country. And you know it.