The Supreme Court decided in favor of free expression on Thursday by striking down the 2006 Stolen Valor Act.
…For PEN, the issue had echoes of some of the defamation cases we have confronted overseas, where governments have tried to penalize speech deemed offensive to abstract entities or constitutions, as when the Turkish governmentthreatened to jail writers for “insulting Turkishness” or the Turkish military.
In signing on to the Amicus brief by the Media Coalition, PEN did not dispute the idea that military honors have value, but rather that lying about having received these honors somehow diminishes the institution of the award. Moreover, enforcing the Stolen Valor Act would pave the way for the government to enforce the truth, as the brief notes:
Fear of public exposure, rather than fear of criminal sanction, is the inducement to truth on which the Constitution requires us to rely outside of the traditional First Amendment exceptions such as fraud, defamation, and perjury.
The universal solvent of falsity is truth. According to Media Coalition director David Horowitz, ”the best way to counter false speech is always more speech—not censorship, and certainly not criminal prosecution.”
photo by bobstovall on a Creativecommons license