Here is were my view of free speech may deviate from my libertarian friends: I support the prosecution of individuals who engage in what is known popularly as “Stolen Valor“, who attempt to present themselves as “war heroes”, wearing decorations they have not been awarded. Stolen Valor is not free speech in my opinion. Some lies may be free speech, but this is more than just a lie, it is fraud.
I am not talking about re-enactors who wear combat uniforms and recreate battles from past conflicts, which commemorate the events, and honor those who fought. Stolen Valor is also different than dressing in a militaristic manner and even wearing decorations that one has actually earned on a military style uniform. The type of uniform I suggest here would be in line with the Kentucky Colonel uniform worn by Stephen Lautens. (Please see my post on Honorary Colonelcy for a more detailed discussion of this topic.)
I am referring to individuals who either have never served in the military, or who actually may have served, but wear decorations not awarded to them in an effort to represent themselves as some sort of “war hero”. This is akin to the custom in the US of the post nominal Esq. being reserved for legal professionals (i.e. if a person has Esq. at the end of his name, then he is assumed to be a lawyer), but much more heinous. For one thing, most lawyers do not put their lives on the line in defense of liberty.
What brought on this particular topic was this FBI press release: