Why I don’t want Stolen Valor to be Illegal

Updated: January 13, 2016


By RU Twisted

Controversy time!

Listen, we’re kicking things off this year at The Rhino Den by getting back to our roots—which is to say that we’re going to be poking the bears and knocking over sacred cows every once in a while just to give you a different perspective. And we do this because we know the veteran community is thick-skinned and should be adept at thinking a bit unconventionally.

As an example, I’m going to say something that may not be all that popular. Point of fact, I may be called all sorts of names for it. But I trust that you’ll hear me out.

I don’t think Stolen Valor should be illegal.

Okay, now is the time when you want to throw things at your computer. I get it. But let me buy you a drink and throw some craziness at you.

You may have heard this week that a federal appeals court just overturned a conviction where a veteran was wearing medals he did not earn. Private Dickbag Elven Joe Swisher had worn a Purple Heart without it being authorized, and under an act signed by George W. Bush, he was guilty of a misdemeanor.

"I was wounded in 'Nam....Just kidding!"

“I was wounded in ‘Nam….Just kidding!”

The Supreme Court struck this law down in 2012, and a federal appeals court just overturned the ruling on Swisher sweets. So he’s free to go.

Since this ruling, I’ve seen numerous posts on Facebook how this is a “travesty” and how it’s an insult to our military and veteran community. Well, I’m part of that community, and I really don’t think it is.

Why not? First, because holy shit, I’m an adult and I don’t care what people wear on their body. I mean, really—if I see some jackass sporting all kinds of military memorabilia, you know what the first thing is that goes through my head? That he’s probably not my type of guy, anyway.

None of my friends wear that stuff. No hard-core combat vet I’ve ever known wears that stuff. Dudes who have seen and been involved in the really nasty shit don’t flash their flare. They keep it to themselves.

Second, this may sound crazy—and don’t hold me to this in several other areas of legal analysis—but…the Supreme Court has a point. If we start legislating what people can and cannot wear on their body, based on what they’ve “earned”? Great googily fuckballs, where does that end?

In all seriousness, stop and consider the ramifications of that. If it’s illegal and punishable by prison sentence or heavy fine to wear a certain type of clothing, then we’ve truly gone off the deep end in terms of “freedom” in this country.

Yeah, yeah, I know. We’ve already trampled all over the Constitution in a whole host of other ways, so what’s one more, right? Check it out—every single legislative effort that is unconstitutional should be vehemently argued against by those who understand it. I would hope that those who swore an oath to defend it would understand that better than most.

And no, the counter to that is not “but those who swore an oath to defend it deserve special treatment!” No. No they don’t.

In fact, fuck no they don’t. Why? Because guess who immediately takes advantage of that little clause?

“Hi, I’m Senator Ballsweat. I have been in office for 28 years and have defended the Constitution, so I should get special treatment under the law.”

Not only no, but hell no. That’s the whole point of “rule of law.” There shouldn’t be special accommodations for one group simply because they wear a uniform, cast votes, or secure massive defense contracts.

Let’s think about this carefully. If wearing a certain medal on your chest is against the law, how far does that extend? While everyone can agree that the guy who never served and puts on a uniform with a bunch of ribbons and claims he was a Navy SEAL Space Shuttle Door Gunner, we can all agree he’s pretty much a piece of caca.

Similarly, if a guy is actually serving and wearing stuff he didn’t earn, that’s a huge no-go. But that’s already covered by UCMJ.

So what about the 18-year old high school kid who saw some medals at the local surplus store and wore them to school for show-and-tell? Oh, not him, you say. He’s cool, the law isn’t for him.

Then who makes the call where the line is drawn? Do you honestly believe our legal system, as it stands, has the capability of nuanced understanding to discern a true shitbag from someone going to a costume party?

And let’s imagine that they actually did. Then what? We are going to incarcerate a human being, at the massive expense of the taxpayer, because….he lied?



If that’s the case, I’ve got news for you—there are several hundred members of Congress that should precede the fake medal-wearer into an orange jumpsuit.

Long story short: people who commit Stolen Valor are douchebags. On that we can all agree. But if we were to send every douchebag to prison just for being douchebags, the government would have to take far more taxes than they already do.

Point of fact, there wouldn’t be a government, because they would all be in prison for being douchebags. Hmmm….maybe I’m on to something here…


*The points of view expressed here are not necessarily the opinions held by Ranger Up or the Rhino Den as a whole, but rather those of the author.  



One Comment

  1. Colin ODonnell

    January 13, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Great points. Here’s a slightly different way to look at it: Laws governing fraud already address actual damages caused by misrepresentation or misbehavior on the part of civilians, and as you stated, the UCMJ takes care of those serving. Stolen Valor therefore serves to prosecute individuals based on the fact that they offended the sensibilities of a majority of the American public…another scary scenario, or in your great words, “great googily fuckballs where does it end?!?!”

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