Rules are Rules – The Gary Stein Case

Sgt. Gary Stein is facing discharge from the U.S. Marines due to a posting he made on a military tea party page that depicted President Obama as a jackass and called him the domestic enemy.  He is fighting this discharge even though a military board has recommended that they move forward with a discharge that will be done other than honorable.  Which basically means he will lose rank and benefits.  A very big price to pay.   This is something that will follow him for the rest of his life, this is something that is asked on most job applications.  But here is the rule that he is being charged with violating:

Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct

This has also been updated to include enlisted service members as well.  It seem to me that he is indeed guilty of  violating the rules.  It is hard to deny that.  His attorney’s are not denying that his posting would be a violation of these rules.  They are questioning his rights to free speech on his own time.

You make posting on a Facebook page that is clearly designed for military members then claim it was something done on your own time and would not fall under the purview of the code?  I am sure he did the posting when he was off duty, but it was a page that very much broadcasts the fact that they are military members.

There are reasons why the military has rules and regulations on free speech when it comes to badmouthing your commanders.  discipline in a military setting is essential in order for the system to work properly.  One of the things that every marine I have met takes a great deal of pride in is the discipline that corp provides.  Most marines are pretty hard-core went it comes to the reputation of honor that comes with being a good marine.

Look, I don’t like President Obama policies any more than this guy seems to.  But I am not in the military and I am free to say whatever I want.  I don’t have to worry about it.  But he is marine, he knew the rules and he still chose to make this posting.  Now he is paying the price for that choice.  That is called personal responsibility.