Monday, January 18, 2016

Illegal to lie about earning a military honor?

Lying is protected by the First Amendment [freedom of speech], unless the lie causes tangible harm, like fraud or perjury. There is also a problem with a lie told with intent to profit or defraud.

On the surface, this sounds like a good rule. However, in context, this philosophy made the laws against wearing an unearned military medal unconstitutional.

So, unless you intend to profit, or you cause tangible harm, you can wear a purple heart, even if you never earned one and even if you've never even served in the military, and that's not illegal.

Although I can understand where this ruling comes from, I think I agree with the dissenters:

Dissenters from Monday’s ruling said falsely wearing medals is conduct, not speech, and is potentially more harmful than lying about them.

“The wearing of an unearned medal dilutes the message conveyed by the medal itself,” making the public less likely to accept the legitimacy of any medal, said Judge Jay Bybee, who was joined by Judges N. Randy Smith and Paul Watford. “The lie here is told in a more effective way.”


  1. I completely agree with the dissenters. This goes beyond free speech. Medals are earned, like degrees if not even more preciously earned, and that should be protected.

    Wonderful blog. I'll be returning.

    1. I like your analogy to college degrees, it definitely fits. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Visiting from JR's blog :) I never knew this. I also agree with the dissenters, it seems wrong that someone can 'dilute' something meant just for a veteran who has earned it.

    1. Yep, I agree with you. My Navy son gets mad when people solicit for money "for veterans" or similar causes, saying they're a veteran, and when he asks them a relevant question, their answer makes it obvious they've never served. Thanks for stopping by!