What a slap in the face of all bona fide decorated war veterans. On Friday The Statesman reported that a federal judge dismissed misdemeanor charges brought against a Colorado man in connection with violations of the Stolen Valor Act, which deems it illegal for anyone to pretend to have been awarded military medals.
In his opinion, U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn wrote (h/t Black Five) that the 2005 law “does not serve a compelling government interest, and consequently that the Act is invalid as violative of the First Amendment.”
But one of the government’s principal interests certainly ought to be its citizens – and in the case of Rick Glen Strandlof, who posed as a Sept. 11 survivor and an Iraq war veteran, the good of those citizens was indeed harmed. According to the Colorado Gazette, Mr. Strandlof pretended to be “Rick Duncan,” a wounded former Marine who had survived the Sept. 11 Pentagon attack, three tours of duty in the Middle East, brain trauma and enemy assault that left a metal plate in his head.
According to the court’s decision, Mr. Strandlof claimed on four separate occasions to have been awarded a Purple Heart, and said once he had received a Silver Star, one of the highest awards given by the U.S. military. He founded the now-defunct Colorado Veterans Alliance, a non-profit that advocated on behalf of homeless veterans, as the medal-winning “Rick Duncan” – and he raised money (h/t Ace of Spades) for that group and for leftist, anti-war organization Iraq Veterans Against War (IVAW), as Mr. “Duncan,” too.
Surely preventing the defrauding of donors constitutes a government interest?