FREE SPEECH -- Josh Gerstein, writing for Politico's Under the Radar column, comments on today's 2-1 decision by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that Congress's Stolen Valor Act violates the First Amendment by criminalizing lies—"I won this military medal"—that cause no evident harm. As earlier argued here, this is the correct decision.
If the false claim to military honor is not detected as a lie, it takes no luster from the true claimants; neither their valor nor its recognition is "stolen" or diminished. Imitation, as Oscar Wilde noted, is the sincerest form of flattery. If and when the false claim is exposed, the contempt rained on the poseur reflects the high respect due and given to the authentic heroes.