anne mikolay 2012 120Every now and then, I hear something so ridiculous that it defies logic. Case in point: the Ninth Circuit Court out of Northern California just ruled the Stolen Valor Act violates the First Amendment rights of citizens. Put simply, the Ninth Circuit Court says it is permissible to impersonate a United States soldier. With the court’s blessing, you now have the right to put on a uniform or wear service medals you did not earn. Apparently, the First Amendment permits lying.

I’m baffled.

Presenting yourself as a police officer (i.e. wearing the uniform, flashing fake credentials, or using lights or decals to disguise an automobile as a police car) or any branch of law enforcement is illegal and results in stiff fines or imprisonment. Impersonating a firefighter is a felony. Falsely representing yourself as a licensed physician is civil fraud, among other things, and results in a host of civil and/or criminal charges. But according to California’s Ninth Circuit Court, it’s a-OK to parade around in the uniform of any branch of United States armed forces.

Infuriating.

My father is a proud World War II U. S. Army veteran. I’ve listened in awe to his stories of the New Guinea campaign, including the Battle of Hollandia in the spring of 1944. Though Dad admittedly keeps some painful memories to himself, I have heard enough to know that he, and each and every World War II veteran, is a hero. My cousin is a Vietnam War veteran; his son, a Naval officer, served in the Middle East. These are American servicemen, the finest, the bravest; their service earned them the right to wear their uniform. Allowing “ordinary” citizens to dress in uniforms/medals of those who bravely served our nation belittles the very individuals the impostors pretend to be.

It’s insulting. It’s fraud. It’s identity theft. It’s plagiarism.

Yes, plagiarism. Plagiarism is the practice of taking someone else’s ideas or work and passing them off as your own. Synonyms of the word plagiarism include infringement, piracy, theft, stealing. STEALING! A college student caught stealing the words and work of others is kicked out of school, punished, disgraced. Universities recognize the gravity of the offense; the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Northern California, however, condones dishonesty. The Ninth Circuit Court must be full of clowns; to them, life is a grand costume party, and the Stolen Valor Act is inconsequential.

It goes without saying, of course, that only the lowest of the low would dare to impersonate our servicemen and women; the motivation of such impostors is clearly suspect. And any individual or organization using the First Amendment to condone such fraud does not appreciate or understand the honor inherent in the United States armed forces.