Our fundamental freedoms in our great nation are laid out in the U.S. Constitution, among the most cherished are the Bill of Rights. What is so important about the Bill of Rights is the protection it grants from government imposition. Among the freedoms I believe most people take for granted is the freedom of speech — the ability to speak out against the government and elected officials.
One U.S. Marine is being dishonorably discharged for his comments directed toward President Obama via social media and has sparked a debate as to which protections U.S. military personnel enjoy under the Constitution while serving.
(The Hill) — A review board on Thursday recommended that Marine Sgt. Gary Stein be discharged for comments on his “Armed Forces Tea Party” site, where he called Obama “the domestic enemy,” superimposed his face on a “Jackass” movie poster and said he would not follow some orders from Obama.
Service members are banned from engaging in political speech or activities while representing the military.
Stein and his lawyers argue he was acting as a private citizen when posting on the Facebook page, and say the Marine Corps are violating his First Amendment rights by prosecuting him for his comments.
The web is replete with conservative bloggers arguing for Marine Sgt. Stein to be protected under the same Constitution for which he is risking his life to defend. I wish I could be arguing right along side with them, I really do. In fact I too believe the President has continually made America weaker — militarily and diplomatically — to the point where nations like Iran and North Korea feel they can build their nuclear weapons programs and threaten other nations (such as Israel) in the face of our requests otherwise.
But military personnel sowing disunity by criticizing the President and his policies can only serve to weaken us further. I think the men and women should have a tighter leash when it comes to issues of speech. They need to be trusted to obey (lawful orders) without fear of hesitation. When they are free to speak out against and criticize their higher-ups and Commander-in-Chief, they undermine that confidence.
I have to admit, my biggest regret in my life was not joining the military. I hold military personnel in a degree of reverence above others for their bravery. Knowing what they are walking into voluntarily for me, you and the rest of the free world. Many people don’t like the idea that the United States plays the role of the world’s police force, but in reality without the U.S. the world would be a much more dangerous place. I hate to have to agree with the decision to relieve Marine Sgt. Stein of his duties, but I must insist that the military fall in behind the President and protect our strength in unity, even if it means biting your tongue.