Fake Army Ranger could face criminal charges

Make that “should false criminal charges”. Here’s the story from the Washington Times. A man is accused of wearing a fake uniform and falsely claiming to have served in the Army Rangers in Iraq and Afghanistan. And here’s the cell phone video (explicit language). An actual Army Ranger noticed this man’s uniform had indications it might not be real. The video records the confrontation between the two men. But is this a crime?

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, a lawmaker for the Middletown district in Pennsylvania, has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger to see if the faker — who introduces himself as Shawn in the video and whose last name is ostensibly displayed on the patch on his uniform — could be charged with violations of the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, if it’s proven that he was faking his service, the Bucks County Courier-Times reported.

The Stolen Valor Act is relatively limited in scope. It’s first version, in 2005, was struck down as unconstitutional. The 2013 version of the law is still in force (as of this writing). Wikipedia summaries the law:

“The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 amends the federal criminal code to rewrite provisions relating to fraudulent claims about military service to subject to a fine, imprisonment for not more than one year, or both an individual who, with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit, fraudulently holds himself or herself out to be a recipient of [list of medals].”

In the new law, you have to have received some type of tangible benefit from your false speech (a false claim about military service). But my opinion is that the 2005 law does not really conflict with freedom of speech, because it only prohibits a narrow type of false speech. Laws against libel and slander also prohibit certain types of false speech. (The truth is a defense against an accusation of libel or slander.)

I know this isn’t a prepping topic. But I thought readers might be interested in the story. Comments are welcome below.

– Thoreau

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