Thomas Cottone, Jr. is a Big, Big Man. Be Afraid.

Well, well - seems that the FBI has a special guy in charge of harassing people who falsely claim to have a medal of honor, like the main characters in the movie 'Wedding Crashers' who try to impress women by claiming they are Purple Heart recipients.

Cottone, Jr. [is] a special agent with the FBI who enforces a federal law that prohibits wearing, manufacturing, buying, selling or trading a Medal of Honor.

I can understand the manufacturing part. The government has rights to the designs of these medals. Still, shouldn't trademark law be enough protection for that? Always laws, laws, and more laws.

The wearing, buying, selling, or trading part bothers me more. If you earn a Purple Heart or some other medal, shouldn't you be able to do whatever the heck you want with it? Isn't there just too much irony in the fact that someone who is wounded "fighting to protect our freedom" is legally prohibited from freely selling or trading his or her medal?

According to the news report: "A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Friday would expand federal law to allow prosecution of anyone who falsely claims to have earned a military medal or a Purple Heart."

Federal prosecution for the offense of trying to impress a member of the opposite sex by pretending to have earned a military medal? Come on now, aren't we going a bit far here?

I think this is just another symptom of a terrible disease that has become epidemic: People propose legislation for no other reason than because they think it would be good. "Hey, let's preserve the honor of these medals by not allowing soldiers who earn them to sell them off. And let's fine or imprison people who falsely claim they earned one!"

People don't take legislation seriously. Using the awful coercive powers of the state to force people to abide by certain rules? Eh, no big deal.

No one seems to be asking the question "I know this might have a result we like, but are we really justified in using yet more force against people to do it?" Enforcing rules with the government involves pulling out some pretty big guns - shouldn't we perhaps limit ourselves to doing that only when we have a really, really good reason? Or just a really good reason even.

But then again, who cares. It's easier not to ask questions that might result in an answer we don't like.
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