Does a soldier give up the right of free speech?

Discussion in 'Freedom and Liberty' started by Alpha Dog, Mar 8, 2012.


  1. Alpha Dog

    Alpha Dog survival of the breed

    Marine's Facebook page tests military rules

    ap_logo_106. <CITE class="byline vcard">By JULIE WATSON | Associated Press – <ABBR class=updated title=2012-03-08T00:35:18Z>Wed, Mar 7, 2012</ABBR></CITE>

    • AP120307133773-_152929. This undated photo released courtesy of Gary Stein shows the Camp Pendleton U.S. Marine, Stein, who has been criticizing President Obama on his Facebook page. U.S. Marine Sgt. Gary Stein says he has the right …moreto his opinion like every American and will fight any reprisals by the Corps. Military observers disagree and say service members cannot speak out against their commander-in-chief, especially in wartime. (AP Photo/Courtesy Gary Stein) less





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    SAN DIEGO (AP) — Marine Sgt. Gary Stein first started a Facebook page called Armed Forces Tea Party Patriots to encourage service members to exercise their free speech rights. Then he declared that he wouldn't follow orders from the commander in chief, President Barack Obama.
    While Stein softened his statement to say he wouldn't follow "unlawful orders," military observers say he may have gone too far.
    The Marine Corps is now looking into whether he violated the military's rules prohibiting political statements by those in uniform and broke its guidelines on what troops can and cannot say on social media. Stein said his views are constitutionally protected.
    While troops have always expressed their views in private, Stein's case highlights the potential for their opinions to go global as tech-savvy service members post personal details, videos and pictures that can hurt the military's image at home and abroad.

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    "I think that it's been pretty well established for a long time that freedom of speech is one area in which people do surrender some of their basic rights in entering the armed forces," said former Navy officer David Glazier, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
    "Good order and discipline require the military maintain respect for the chain of command," Glazier said. "That includes prohibiting speech critical of the senior officers in that chain of command — up to and including the commander in chief."
    According to Pentagon directives, military personnel in uniform can't sponsor a political club; participate in any TV or radio program or group discussion that advocates for or against a political party, candidate or cause; or speak at any event promoting a political movement.
    Commissioned officers also may not use contemptuous words against senior officials, including the defense secretary or the president.
    [Related: Military seeks sixth-sense training]
    In January, an Army reservist wearing camouflaged fatigues got into trouble for taking the stage during a rally in Iowa with Republican presidential candidate and Texas congressman Ron Paul.
    Stein was first cautioned by his superiors at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, in 2010 after he launched his Facebook page, criticizing Obama's health care overhaul. Stein volunteered to take down the page while he reviewed the rules at the request of his superiors.
    He said he determined he was not in violation and relaunched the page under the shortened account name Armed Forces Tea Party. Last week, he said his superiors told him he couldn't use social media sites on government computers after he posted the message stating he would not follow unlawful orders of the president.
    Stein said his statement was part of an online debate about NATO allowing U.S. troops to be tried for the Quran burnings in Afghanistan.
    In that context, he said, he was stating that he would not follow orders from the president if those orders included detaining U.S. citizens, disarming them or doing anything else that he believes would violate their constitutional rights.
    Another Marine alerted his command about the statement, Stein said.
    Stein said he respects the office of the president, but he does not agree with Obama's policies. He said he is within his rights to speak up.
    "Just because I'm a Marine doesn't mean I don't have free speech or can't say my personal opinion about the president or other public official just like anybody else," Stein said. "The Constitution trumps everything else."
    Stein said it's positive when service members are well-versed on the Constitution and what's going on in government.
    "When we know what we're fighting for, we fight harder," he said.
    The Marine Corps said Stein is allowed to express his personal opinions as long as they do not give the impression he is speaking in his official capacity as a Marine. Spokesman Maj. Michael Armistead said the Corps is taking a closer look to ensure Stein has not crossed that line.
    "At this time, he has not been asked to take down the statement on his page," he said.
    Stein appears in a dress shirt and tie on his Facebook page but he also describes himself as "a conservative blogger, speaker, the founder of the Armed Forces Tea Party and active-duty, eight-year Marine Corps veteran."
    Marine Sgt. Jerret Wright, who liked Stein's page, said Stein "probably skirted the line a little bit" with his latest message about not following Obama's orders, but his boldness in expressing his views has been refreshing in a community that often feels silenced.
    "People assume that we're ZOMBIES with an on-and-off switch, and that we listen to orders and do nothing else," Wright said.
    Military observers say it's not that simple. They say it is bad form to lash out at the commander in chief. Experts also say his Facebook postings appear to link his professional standing with his political views.
    They also point out that the Pentagon policy is necessary in preventing political and religious debates that could divide a unit and disrupt the strong working relationship that is needed to carry out missions, Glazier said.
    "There are plenty of examples in the world of militaries heavily involved in influencing political events that have shown that is not conducive to civilian rule of law," he said.
     
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Back in the day, enlisting took away all rights and privileges not granted separately by the articles of enlistment. Even then, public political statements were prohibited, and criticism of superior officers was not allowed. Dunno what the latest revision to the articles might look like.
     
  3. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    I hate to chime in on this because #1 I am a retired military man. A lifer so to speak. I do not hold my tongue well. It is a wonder I advanced to the point I did and never lost a stripe. I did have a couple suspended busts and had to play nice to get past that point. LOL, when I made E-7, I was not yet elligible to wear gold hash marks (12 years good conduct).
    .
    My point is I learned the rules, right or wrong early on. Sometimes I just chose to violate them. LOL.
    .
    I knew you were not allowed to speak out against the President or your superiors while on base, in uniforn on or off base, or while identifying yourself as a military member (whether on base or off whether in uniform or not). That's the way it is written into the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I know of what I speak on this, I served as a Master of Arms at 2 commands and as Chief Master at Arms at another. I studied the UCMJ and also completed the advancement manuals for MAA 3 and 2 and 1st and Chief.
    .
    If you felt so inclined you could stand on a street corner and protest in civies. If you were asked if you were in the military you could neither confirm nor deny that, and must state your actions are simply as a citizen of the USA. That is as about as close to the line as you could get without being punished. Everyone in uniform at the time I was in was fully aware of this, and to step over the line was to ask to have your butt standing before your commanding officer at a disciplinary hearing or to be court marshalled. Case closed.
    .
    I respect and agree with this young Marine, but he stepped across the line, and he damn well knows it!
     
    ColtCarbine and tulianr like this.
  4. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    When you put on Uncle Sam's uniform and accept his pay...

    As a volunteer, when you put on Uncle Sam's uniform, and accept his pay...you voluntarily bind yourself to the laws and regulations of the service.

    It's perhaps a sign of the times...and perhaps of the generation, that seems to think that somehow social media like FaceBook and twitter et al...are somehow magically immune from the strictures of the law, such as laws against libel etc etc. Not that I am suggesting that Stein is being treasonous, but acts of treason published on social media, will still be acts of treason as if they were disseminated in the news print media or disseminated by any other means.


    Everyone is entitled to have political beliefs, but history is replete with examples where the politicisation of the military has not been beneficial to society as a whole. The German Wehrmacht, and the Italian armed forces during WWII are examples of where that can go terribly wrong. If Stein feels strongly enough to persue a course of political activism...then the appropriate course of action for him is to resign from the service in pursuance of to persue that objective. If he elects not to do so, or for whatever reason cannot be released from his enlistment contract, then he is obliged to operate within the constraints of what is permitted. Those freedoms may not be as comprehensive as those available to civilians, but that is a disciplinary obligation that he signed up to when he agreed to wear the uniform issued to him by Uncle Sam.
     
    ColtCarbine, tulianr and tacmotusn like this.
  5. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    He may not give up his right to free speech, but he does have to accept some curtailment of that right, along with many other rights guaranteed to American citizens. Anyone who has spent any time at all in the military has been told: "We defend a democratic nation, but the military is NOT a democracy."

    Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in the military will understand the need to curtail some of our basic civil liberties while serving in the military. Some former "single-term" military members may not get it, but those who stayed in for two or more terms of enlistment should indeed get it.

    In fact, it is when you reenlist that first time that it becomes clear to you what it is that you are signing away. When you first enlist in the military, you have no idea what it is that you have signed on for, and I can accept some serious grumbling from those fellows, but when you sign those papers the second time, you know what it is that you are asking for, and what you are giving up.

    It is a slippery slope, with ill-defined boundaries, when you begin to engage in political action while serving in the military, and it is best to just steer clear of that area. Not everyone serving in the military would agree with me, but I didn't even vote in national elections while on active duty. I figured that whomever was elected by the citizenry of the United States was my boss, and it didn't feel right to be voting for or against my boss.

    This young Marine has a right to his opinion, but as long as he is identifying himself as a Marine, he needs to keep his mouth shut about his chain of command, up to and including the President of the United States.

    I don't think that the supporters of this young Marine have thought the situation through. If a county deputy began to make public criticisms of his sheriff, I don't think he would be happily employed for very long. If a fast food worker began telling customers what a worthless piece of garbage his manager is, I think he would be looking for new employment. This situation is not much different.

    If I could endure two terms of Bill Clinton and keep my mouth shut, surely this Marine can keep his trap shut about Obama. When he gets out of the military, more power to him. He can call them like he sees them. Until then, discretion is not only the smart call, it is the right call. He's taken the King's shilling.
     
  6. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

     
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  7. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Get it...got it...good!

    Thanks CC...I picked up on that....please return to your regular Freedom and Liberty broadcast! ; )

    What is there to be sad about??? It was a choice that tulianr exercised as a personal matter of ethical conscience. I think that tulianr should be congratulated for taking a stance of personal integrity and existential authenticity. I suspect, that even if lodging a vote was compulsory, as it is in Australia, tulianr would probably have voted informal with the same net effect.
     
  8. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    I expect this young Marine will shortly be looking for a new job "For the good of the Service"..

    as a Sgt he should know better... and seems to be trying for his 15 minutes of fame...



    Sorry apparently he dosen't seem to think much of his Oath...

    hopefully he will mature and learn that sometiumes it's best to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, tha openm it and remove all doubt...
     
  9. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    Absolutely. All service members, at any command I've ever been to, are strongly encouraged to engage in the political process, and exercise their right to vote.

    I support those who have it within them to develop strong political opinions against a man running for office, vote against him, and then loyally serve him as commander in chief, when he gets elected in spite of their vote. That's just not me.

    Perhaps I have a simple mind. I can do one thing at a time, really well. Distract me with multi-tasking, and I go all to hell. To me, developing strong political opinions, and exercising my right to vote, was a distraction that I did not need while trying to be a good Marine. I'm not the sort of voter who votes for a person because of his political party affiliation. For me, it isn't a quick check mark on a ballot. I am a researching fiend. I want to know who it is that I am casting my vote for. In the process of doing my research, I am going to develop some strong biases for or against these people.

    To loyally serve some dirtball, who is sitting in the president's chair, is hard enough without being involved in the political process (having served under slippery Bill Clinton, I'm sure you can attest to this). The moment I retired, I became a politically engaged citizen; but while I was in, for me, being detached from that system was the right choice.
     
    chelloveck likes this.
  10. bfayer

    bfayer Keeper Of The Faith

    You do not give up your rights, but you do take on additional responsibly.

    One is the responsibility is to refrain from conduct that is prejudicial to good order and discipline or brings discredit to the armed forced.

    If an NCO states in public that they will not obey the president, or that they hold the president in contempt, they are doing both of the above.

    If they say it in private, or without people knowing they are a member of the armed forces, they are good to go.

    Officers are held to a higher legal standard.

    I am active duty enlisted, 28 years and still serving with pride.

    Sent using Tapatalk
     
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  11. Pyrrhus

    Pyrrhus Monkey++

    Technically, enlisted are not specifically prohibited by the UCMJ from criticizing the president. Officers are. In fact, officers may not criticize any elected official. I can't even say my governor sucks. However, I can talk about what a turd the Secretary of the Treasury is. Helicopter Ben too.
     
  12. bfayer

    bfayer Keeper Of The Faith

    Not Quite

    Actually an officer can't, if they represent themselves as a member of the military, or do it in front of, or where subordinates can hear them.

    I suggest you read Art 133 and 134 before you decide that a a non DOD or DHS Cabinet Secretary is fair game. 134 applies to all members officers and enlisted alike. You will get a pass on 88 however if that is any comfort.

    See U.S. Supreme Court, PARKER v. LEVY, 417 U.S. 733 (1974)

    In this case SCOTUS upheld 133 and 134 as it relates to the 1st amendment.

    ….“There is a wide range of conduct to which Arts. 133 and 134 may be applied without infringing the First Amendment, and while there may be marginal applications in which First Amendment values would be infringed, this is insufficient to invalidate either article at appellee's behest…”

    In other words, even if it does infringe on the first amendment, Arts. 133 and 134 are still valid. You can still say you disagree with or don't like a Secretary; you just can't call them a turd :)
     
    tulianr likes this.
  13. Pyrrhus

    Pyrrhus Monkey++

    Note that I said, "specifically". A service member can be charged under Article 134 for just about anything.
     
  14. bfayer

    bfayer Keeper Of The Faith

    And often is :)


    The main point is the Marine was off the reservation and can be charge under the UCMJ. In reality all he needs is a swift kick in the butt by his Sergeant Major and sent back to work.

    Service members have always done stupid things; the difference today is they do it in front of god and everyone on the internet.
     
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  15. oldawg

    oldawg Monkey+++

    When I was in, whether in civies or not, just a glance was enough to identify you as military.You could have your own opinion that was counter to official dogma no problem but espousing it in public off base was a trip before the mast. That was a guarantee of at least one less stripe. For a bosun 3rd the spectre of that was enough to keep you out of politic arguments.If I was going to give up my crow it would be for something important such as being bad mouthed by some jarhead. JMO
     
  16. UGRev

    UGRev Get on with it!

    You cannot legally enter a contract that defines a set of rules or removal of rights, inalienable or otherwise, that undermine the Constitution. Do do so is a subversion of that Constitution. To forbid the exercise of the rights laid forth in our Constitution and then purpose the contract such that you must defend them by oath is treasonous.

    Speaking poorly of your commander is bad form, but not illegal and should not be a considerable offense for punishment as it would direct you to break your oath to punish anyone who exercised his right to free speech.

    That being said, there needs to be rules set forth such that a hierarchy is followed and adhered to. Unfortunately, the gov't took the shortcut here in making sure there was no vocal, squeaky, wheel(s).

    I repeat, you cannot enter a contract that is illegal by virtue of the rights set forth in our Constitution. But hey, the gov't doesn't care.
     
  17. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    UGRev, I am going to make a leap, and assume you have no military service, or at most, one enlistment or just part of one? What you say above may be true in the civilian community. The Military has its own laws, it's own courts, it's own legal counsel (both for and against the accused), and it's own exclusive to themselves .... Prisons. Additionally, they can put you to death if the charges warrant and you are found guilty. As someone else stated article 134 of the UCMJ is the general article, where anything that could be construed as bringing discredit upon the military can be used to bring you up on charges. Back talk to your superiors is insubordination, a charge which could get you locked up on bread and water for 3 days. Are you beginning to see this has no reference to the civilian courts or laws? Additionally, stating that you will not follow the orders of our Commander in Chief (President), and encouraging others to do the same could be construed as sedition, treason, or mutany, depending on the curcumstances. All of these could get you put to death or locked up for life in a military prison.
    .
    The Military doesn't care because the job they do and the conditions they work under at times precludes the niceties of civilian life and democracy.
     
  18. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    When you sign on, your are guaranteed training as long as you remain qualified to receive it, you are (well, in my day were) guaranteed one meal and 4 hours of rest each day unless there was something else that made that infeasible (as in war zones or combat conditions.) These items were expressed in the Article of Enlistment. In return, you pretty much agreed to do or not do as you were told. In other words, the articles of enlistment ARE (were) a contract that is (was) perfectly legal since there is (was) a tit for tat; value given to both parties. Part of that agreement was to abide by the rules that governed your service which did indeed override civilian rights. Times may have changed in some respects, but that guy went off the reservation and will receive appropriate treatment in accordance with the UCMJ.

    In effect, the Articles of Enlistment are a form of indentured servitude that (other than the military) IS an illegal operation. The conditions of the contract are perhaps harsh, but are necessary for good order and discipline in the ranks. So it should be, and is long honored by custom, tradition, and law.

    I did not know all that on the first enlistment (recruiters were salesmen, you see) but I did when I re-upped. Dunno how it is in the other services, but the re-enlistment personnel officers and chiefs made sure for re-ups.

    I add that I have a lot less familiarity with the commissioined officer arrangements. I do know that the only way out of a commission is after the original duration agreement is reached, is by formal resignation. Also, continued performance is expected, or promotions won't happen. It is customary that the resignation is submitted after being passed over for promotion the third time. If resignation doesn't happen, the duty stations will be at best onerous, with no hope of a better one.
     
  19. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    All the above vanishes in three words..

    At Ease, soldier.
     
  20. UGRev

    UGRev Get on with it!

    I've had my share of aux service, but not enlisted in any way shape or form. A 1978 Malibu with a drunk driver fixed that for me.

    I grew up in military family having every father served in one of the wars. I get the mind set and I've worked with military finding downed aircraft as I was preparing to enter one of the branches of service.

    What I've come to understand is that there is no allowable forgiveness to abridge the Constitution, whether you like to think it's sanctioned or not. You cannot remove the right of citizenship from any man as our Constitution does not allow our gov't to do so EVEN IF YOU SIGN a piece of paper. Since the contract was void on paper even before conception of said contract, by virtue of the existence of the Constitution.. I cannot agree that the gov't has the right to present you with a contract which removes your rights, if even temporarily; rather you need to present this option to the gov't on your own behalf. The gov't presenting you with the contract to do so is not the same as you presenting the gov't the refusal of your rights since the gov't has no right to refuse them in the first place.

    The argument of "you never served" is always used when i present this. It's the first line of defense when there is a clear dislocation of what you know and what you want to believe or make yourself believe as a means to justify your life's decisions.

    Not too long ago, I would have called it volunteering. Now I call it illegal contraction by willful suspension of Constitutional law.

    The next thing I get is "The gov't doesn't make you sign". Right.. but the gov't doesn't have the right to present you with an illegal contract. I can't do it to you, what gives them the right to?

    Please also do not confuse my stance with a misunderstanding of the chain of command and how to maintain that command structure which holds a level of trust that NEEDS to be firm or leadership falls apart. This is not my argument. I merely assert that any member of the military should be able to reserve his her rights and that there are other ways of maintaining that command structure without abridging those rights.

    I'll put it to you this way. I can say what I want about my boss and he can't fire me for it legally, but he can surely make my life un-easy. I'd rather find a new job instead of talk **** behind his back or to his face:
    1. It would be counter productive to talk ****
    2. It would be easier and less stressful to find a new job

    Incentives and consequences dictate the course of action.

    But do me favor and please don't "chicken hawk me". I had no control over the drunk **** who changed my course of action.
     
    Byte likes this.
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