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  1. #1

    Default Should military restrict the speech of service(wo)men when it's not intel related?

    Here's an article that you all may or may not have already read:

    US Marine Gary Stein dismissed for criticising Obama

    Sgt Gary Stein will receive an other-than-honourable discharge for violating a policy that limits speech of military service members, the Marine Corps said.

    The action means Sgt Stein, who served nearly 10 years in the Marine Corps, will lose all benefits.

    He had argued that his comments were covered by his constitutional right to freedom of speech.

    Sgt Stein had put a disclaimer on Facebook that his opinions, which included calling President Obama an enemy, were his own.

    He had put Mr Obama's face on mocked-up film posters, including one for the movie Jackass.

    A disciplinary board recommended earlier this month that he be given an "other-than-honourable" discharge.

    The panel heard he had said he would not follow orders from the president if it involved violating the rights of US citizens.

    Prosecutors said Sgt Stein repeatedly ignored warnings from superior officers, and that the postings were in breach of military regulations.

    The US military has a long-standing policy of restricting the free speech of service members, including criticism of the president, who is commander-in-chief of America's armed forces.

    Sgt Stein's supporters - who include two congressmen, and the American Civil Liberties Union - argued that the defence department's regulations are vague, and that commanders do not understand them.
    I'm surprised by his incredulity (maybe it's disingenuous for the sake of his case though), but I thought it was a well-known fact that service members do not enjoy the same free speech rights as civilians. (Are a lot of service members unaware of this?)

    Anyway this article is just a topical example, but my question to you all is more general. I want to know if you all feel that the military has a right to restrict the speech of its members? If so, on what topics and why? If not, why?

    FTR, I think intel-related discussion should be off the table for obvious reasons, but perhaps people even disagree on this point... I know it's been a point of debate in the past with journalists and service members alike "how much is too much information being shared publicly about foreign campaigns" etc. etc.
    "The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things." - Rainer Maria Rilke

  2. #2
    Senior Member tinker683's Avatar
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    Two thoughts:

    1) No, they don't have the same rights. They tell you when you sign on that you are giving up your constitutional rights. Whether or not the general was justified in saying those things or his dismissal was in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice is another matter.

    2) I seemed to recall the right crying foul about criticizing the president during wartime as being "unpatriotic". Does this apply in this case?
    "The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it."
    ― Woodrow Wilson

  3. #3
    The Memes Justify the End EcK's Avatar
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    Well if you are in the military the president is your ''CEO''. You represent his or her command.
    if you worked for a company and your hobby was to publicly parody and speak badly of your CEO wouldn't you expect to get fired ?
    I don't find it particularly shocking. It's not a matter of ego or defamation, it's simply professional misconduct, and you can get fired for that.

    Now the bit about a dishonorable discharge is a bit comical to me as I consider honor to be for clowns lacking systemic vision about the consequence of ''honorable conduct'' in the first place... but that's a wholly (wooly!) different topic.
    Expression of the post modern paradox : "For the love of god, religions are so full of shit"

    Theory is always superseded by Fact...
    ... In theory.

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    Senior Member swordpath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EcK View Post
    Well if you are in the military the president is your ''CEO''. You represent his or her command.
    if you worked for a company and your hobby was to publicly parody and speak badly of your CEO wouldn't you expect to get fired ?
    I don't find it particularly shocking. It's not a matter of ego or defamation, it's simply professional misconduct.
    This. It's bad form as a service member to criticize your Commander in Chief. You would never do that to your commanding officer (the head of a military unit) who is usually of a high rank such as a Lieutenant Colonel. The President is further up the ladder in your chain of command. Bad form. Among the first things you are told when you enlist are that you are to be respectful of the rank, your personal sentiments on the person are irrelevant. If you have received unlawful orders, there are formal avenues to take in sorting that out. Otherwise, suck it up and don't burn your bridges.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by EcK View Post
    Well if you are in the military the president is your ''CEO''. You represent his or her command.
    if you worked for a company and your hobby was to publicly parody and speak badly of your CEO wouldn't you expect to get fired ?
    I don't find it particularly shocking. It's not a matter of ego or defamation, it's simply professional misconduct, and you can get fired for that.

    Now the bit about a dishonorable discharge is a bit comical to me as I consider honor to be for clowns lacking systemic vision about the consequence of ''honorable conduct'' in the first place... but that's a wholy (whooly!) different topic.
    Well apparently, he's not receiving a dishonorable discharge. He's receiving a "other-than-honorable" discharge, which I didn't even know existed. I'm surprised they're being that generous given how many warnings he received to cease and desist.
    "The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things." - Rainer Maria Rilke

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    The Memes Justify the End EcK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swordpath View Post
    This. It's bad form as a service member to criticize your Commander in Chief. You would never do that to your commanding officer who is usually of a high rank such as Lieutenant Colonel. The President is further up the ladder in your chain of command. Bad form. Among the first things you are told when you enlist is that you are respectful of the rank, maybe not the person.
    Yeah I might disagree with strategy and policies but well, you take the job you accept the consequences.
    Now one thing with the military is that your commander in chief might change and you'll still be bound by your ''contract'' or however they call it. Then again you can have a work contract with a specific length for a normal job and it wouldnt give you a special pass to publicly badmouth your ceo or manager.

    One might imagine a modification of these rules but then that would shift the focus from work contracts with organisations to work contracts with teams/hierarchic ladders.
    Could be interesting.
    Expression of the post modern paradox : "For the love of god, religions are so full of shit"

    Theory is always superseded by Fact...
    ... In theory.

    “I’d hate to die twice. It’s so boring.”
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    "Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart."
    Mencius (Meng-Tse), 4th century BCE

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    Senior Member swordpath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EcK View Post
    Yeah I might disagree with strategy and policies but well, you take the job you accept the consequences.
    Now one thing with the military is that your commander in chief might change and you'll still be bound by your ''contract'' or however they call it. Then again you can have a work contract with a specific length for a normal job and it wouldnt give you a special pass to publicly badmouth your ceo or manager.

    One might imagine a modification of these rules but then that would shift the focus from work contracts with organisations to work contracts with teams/hierarchic ladders.
    Could be interesting.
    True. From a personal stand point, I love and endorse the constitution and a citizen's freedom of speech; but the rules veer a little for military personnel. It's necessary for good order within the ranks. Good order is essential.

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    The Memes Justify the End EcK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iwakar View Post
    Well apparently, he's not receiving a dishonorable discharge. He's receiving a "other-than-honorable" discharge, which I didn't even know existed. I'm surprised they're being that generous given how many warnings he received to cease and desist.
    Thats the issue when people get stuck on vague ideals (freedom of speech) rather than look at the big picture and realistic application. Nothing exists in a vacuum, a right is a balance of forces not an absolute. For example alot of people seem to think its normal that freedom of speech doesnt allow one to insult people, make racist comments etc yet then choose to call it sacred and all encompassing when it suits their personal wants. Its childish. If you want to share political opinions and have your voice be heard I dont think the military is the right place for that.
    Expression of the post modern paradox : "For the love of god, religions are so full of shit"

    Theory is always superseded by Fact...
    ... In theory.

    “I’d hate to die twice. It’s so boring.”
    Richard Feynman's last recorded words

    "Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart."
    Mencius (Meng-Tse), 4th century BCE

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    Senior Member Munchies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tinker683 View Post
    2) I seemed to recall the right crying foul about criticizing the president during wartime as being "unpatriotic". Does this apply in this case?
    In a time of war, that would be vaguely deffined as terrorism.
    1+1=3 OMFG

  10. #10

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    The ACLU and the congressmen allege that the military's policy has very vague wording, so there is confusion and inconsistent application by military supervisors. Does anyone know the actual wording of the policy? --or if it's possible to locate it online?
    "The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things." - Rainer Maria Rilke

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