U.S. Marine Faces Less-Than-Honorable Discharge After Criticizing Obama on Facebook
April 9, 2012 9:36 AM
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A Marine review board has recommended the dismissal
A United States Marine may be dismissed from the military for posting negative comments about U.S. President Barack Obama on Facebook.
Gary Stein, 26, a meteorologist at Camp Pendleton, posted on Facebook that he refused to follow orders given by Obama. These
comments were posted on a Facebook page
called the Armed Forces Tea Party.
This isn't Stein's first bout of trouble in the military. The Marine, who has served almost nine years including a tour of duty in Iraq, also got in trouble for comments that he posted on the Armed Forces Tea Party page back in 2010. At that point, he was simply told to put a disclaimer on the page saying that it was in no way affiliated with the U.S. military.
But this time, the Marines believe Stein has gone too far. After posting that he refused to follow Obama's orders, Stein later removed the comments saying that he meant only unlawful orders.
Now, a Marine Corps review board has ruled that Stein should be dismissed with a less-than-honorable discharge for his Facebook comments. This decision came after a 13-hour hearing and one hour deliberation by the board.
This recommendation will be sent to Brigadier General Daniel Yoo, who is commanding general of the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot. He is then expected to make a decision regarding Stein's fate within 30 days.
The Marines are taking Stein's actions very seriously, considering the fact that Marines take an oath to defend the Constitution and obey the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which means Marines cannot partake in political activities while in uniform.
Stein was due to either re-enlist or end his enlistment at the end of July.
This particular case is just another reminder that social media is being watched very closely by overheads such as employers and schools. For instance, employees and applicants at the Maryland Department of Corrections were
forced to hand over their Facebook emails and passwords
so that employers could take a look at their employees' private lives. Later, the government simply asked employees to log into their Facebook pages right in front of them. In addition, an Indiana high school student was recently
expelled for posting foul language on Twitter
, even though he supposedly tweeted it from home.
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RE: Should know better
4/9/2012 9:07:41 PM
"It's like any other job" obviously referred only to the one aspect he was discussing - the inability to criticize one's boss.
But, it turns out, he's partially wrong. Officers are prohibited from talking about certain specific government officials, but enlisted service members are not bound in the same way. The Courts have decided that there isn't a pressing need to restrict enlisted political speech, and so they are free under the 1st Amendment, as long as they aren't representing the government when they make their speech.
So in fact, the military is unlike other jobs, in that you DO have free reign to criticize your boss, protected by the Constitution.
The problem here isn't that he was talking about the President (unless he's an officer, but then he would have been in serious trouble earlier, and a caveat that he wasn't speaking "as a Marine" wouldn't have saved him), the problem is that he claimed he wouldn't follow orders.
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