What Happened To Freedom of Speech For ALL Americans?
Marine Sergeant Gary Stein, of Temecula, CA, went before a discharge panel in early April to defend himself for posts made on his Facebook group, “Armed Services Tea Party,” which disparaged President Barack Obama and critically discussed other elected officials and policy matters. Stein is accused of threatening good order and discipline with his Facebook comments. Stein, who faces discipline and possible discharge is coming up against a Pentagon policy that limits the free speech rights of service members. While all US troops are prohibited from political demonstrations and activity while in uniform or representing their service, limited political speech is permitted. Further complicating the issue is social media, which is not clearly governed under a binding Defense Department policy.
“There’s obviously an agenda here,” said Gary Kreep, founder of the US Justice Foundation and a lawyer who filed the injunction request on Stein’s behalf. “They’re making a scapegoat and an example out of the sergeant.” Kreep continued, “It’s my opinion, but I believe Obama sent orders down from above to get rid of this guy.” Stein’s legal team found a 2005 Facebook photograph of a member of the military prosecution team, Captain Gavin Logan, showing him in full uniform with the caption, “You shut the F— up. We’ll protect America. Keep out of our F—— way liberal p——.” Stein’s defense attorney says the sergeant has broken no law and the prosecution is just trying to dredge up whatever it can to make Stein look bad. If he’s convicted, Stein could lose his rank and face a dishonorable discharge.
According to “The Social Corps,” a Marine Corps training manual on the subject, Stein does not appear to have done anything wrong with his postings. It says Stein has a perfect right to speak out on any political issue or candidate. On page 12 it says, “The Marine Corps encourages Marines to carry out their obligations as citizens. This includes politics. However, there are limitations to your political activity. You can express your political views on public issues or political candidates online, but not as part of an organized communication campaign.”
Obama and his administration has been marked by its fervor in trying to control online information about the president. First, the Democrat National Committee dedicated scores of people to the task, then the White House itself took over the job, appointing Jesse Lee the “director of Progressive Media and Online Response.” It’s difficult to accept the accusations that criticism of Obama on Facebook is a major threat to discipline. It looks like someone at the office of Progressive Media and Online Response has been working overtime to stroke the Narcissist-in-Chief’s ego. Obama has notoriously thin skin.
Ironically, Stein, as a Marine, has been in a position of defending the rights of Americans, including free speech, and now he’s had his rights essentially stripped from him because of a president with no respect for the Constitution. A Marine can’t say anything bad about the president, but the feds will gladly drag a Marine’s name through the mud.
And in the Further Irony department, the Marine Corps Times published the results of a Military Times survey that indicated that Obama received a 25% approval rating among active duty Marines, down from 35% after Obama’s first year on the job. Further, 44% said they disapproved of Obama’s performance as Commander-in-Chief.
While Stein has received criticism from the left and right for his actions, he has also gotten some strong voices of support in Congress. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has backed Stein up throughout the discharge hearing and proceedings. And last week another former service member in Congress, Rep. Allen West (R-FL), a retired lieutenant colonel, also added support.
Said West, “I am sad to see a Marine Sergeant may lose his career because he dared to criticize the President on a Facebook page. Should we have disciplined this young (non-commissioned officer)? Yes. But to end this Warrior’s career with a less than honorable discharge is not the answer… Maybe if America had leadership that gained the respect of our military, instead of simply using them as stage props for speeches, this atmosphere would not exist.”
Well said, Rep. West. But that’s just my opinion.
Cross-posted at RWNO, my personal web site.
When I was in the Army back in the 60’s the rule that you couldn’t demonstrate, critisize, or protest against the Army, the government, or the President was a law back then even before we ever heard of protesters on the street or anywhere else for that matter. I thought nothing of it because I didn’t come from a political family, other than some local politics my grandparents were involved in due to the fact they were small business owners and didn’t like taxes or regulations that kept them from making all the money they could. Other than that I had no knowledge of politics whatsoever, nor did I care about politics. I just wanted to be in the Army and volunteer for every dangerous thing I could.
This Marine should have obeyed the rules of being in the service like we all had to do, and just keep his mouth shut no matter what. Obama and Peneta haven’t done anything really bad, to the military other than a couple of things that won’t take affect just yet. Not like things were affected by the President when I was in Vietnam. I remember that McNemara, who was the designer of the Mustang for Ford Motor Company who was made Sec. of Defence during the Johnson administration did order the muzzle volocity of the M-16 round down from 3550 ft.per.second, to 2800 ft. per. second because it was deemed the higher speed was INHUMANE!! They said the sever damage done to the human body by the 5.56mm round traveling that fast was horrific. So they slowed it down. The damn bullet wasn’t worth a crap when they did that and it made us all feel like we had to use three times as many rounds to do what the AK could do with a couple of rounds, and it could. Then with the position the government was taking with the anti-war protesters was deplorable. The government was letting them get away with making us look bad and were letting the anti-war Communist make us look like we were baby killers, which we weren’t, not on purpose that is.
Here’s the deal with the military. When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do. You don’t think that since you are in the military you still have the same rights as everyone else outside the military. Well, you don’t. In order to maintain order and conformity you have to have rules that are different than they would be if you were in civilian life. One of the main things is freedom of speech has to be curtailed because dissent cannot be allowed to exist because it causes “mutinous” feelings amoung our troops, and it’s because there are men in the military who want to be lazy and if dissenting against military training and dissipline can get them out of duty then they are going to be for it. Also to it gives those who hate the military more encouragement to attack the military if they think there are people on the inside that feel like they do about the military and it’s killing so-called “innocents” in foreign countries.
I believe that this Marine screwed up and got caught up in some dissention that was going on on Facebook and it led him to think he could say what he wanted to and it got him into trouble. If the military believes that they need to get rid of men who are causing a problem with order and dissipline of troops, then they are going to have to be allowed by the civilian control to create rules that let the military get rid of men who cause problems with order and conformity. It has to be maintained or otherwise our military will fall apart. If men who don’t want to go down the road because they are afraid they might get shot know they don’t have to if they don’t want to, then our military is finished as a means to take out the bad guys who would oppress people who are to weak to protect themselves against oppressor’s. We have to have that closed society sort of environment in the military so that it can breed courage in men to do things that people in civilian life don’t have to commit to.