By Douglas V. Gibbs
Somebody asked me if Gary Stein's Other-than-Honorable Discharge was too severe of a punishment for a military member expressing a not-so-favorable opinion of the President of the United States on a website created by the service member, and upon which he reveals that he is a member of the United States Marine Corps.
Personally, I think a punishment less than a discharge for career military personnel guilty of this kind of offense may be more appropriate, but if the punishment was handed down by someone even higher than the brass, then it is not something that can be challenged.
As a United States Navy Veteran, I am fully aware of the oath I took when I entered my military service, and the rules and regulations I was expected to follow. Like it or not, Constitutional protections do not factor into a person's military rules of conduct. Article I, Section 8, Clause 14 in the United States Constitution indicates that Congress shall have the power "To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval forces." No matter how correct Gary Stein's assessment of Barack Obama's presidency was, and no matter how much he feels that every order by The President is an unlawful order because the man in the White House is not eligible to be President of the United States because of the fact that his father was not a citizen of the United States at the time of O'Barry's birth, like it or not Obama is the Commander in Chief, and as military members we are not to espouse political opinions as representatives of the branch of military service we serve in, no matter how correct those opinions may be.
Had Mr. Stein created a Facebook page, or blog, as an individual, without the fact that he is serving in the military attached, then as per the UCMJ, he would be perfectly safe to say anything he wanted about Barack Obama short of something stupid like assassination.
The Constitution does not apply to military personnel, as much as some people would like it to. Nobody has a constitutional right to serve in the military (as the opposition to "don't ask don't tell" falsely claimed), nobody has freedom of speech in the military (ask any recruit during boot camp), and nobody on base has any right to any kind of privacy (inspections kind of kill that whole idea). The purpose of such strict rules and regulations is so that the military forces do not become some mamsy-pamsy group of whiners claiming they have rights to everything. A member enters the military for the purpose of service to the United States that may include confrontation with an enemy. When in a situation where a member is squaring up against the enemy, the last thing anyone needs is hesitation, worries about one's rights, or political disagreements. None of that matters in battle. Training matters. Killing matters. Breaking stuff matters. That is war.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice is the service member's Constitution, and as much as I feel for United States Marine Sergeant Gary Stein, and as much as I believe an other-than-honorable discharge may be a little severe, he broke the rules. He went against the UCMJ. Punishment was handed down, and rather than acting like a victim, he needs to step up and admit he broke the rules.
Yes, it is ridiculous that someone is getting discharged for criticizing Barack Obama, and yes I know that there were cases in which members criticized George W. Bush during his presidency and nothing happened. There is a glaring double standard that exists, I am not denying that. But, the facts are the facts. I may agree with everything Stein had to say about Obama, for the most part, and I feel for him. It has to be very frustrating to serve your country for nearly ten years, plan to stay in uniform until retirement, and then be thrown out for having an opinion about a Marxist that is occupying the White House. The UCMJ, however, has spoken. Stein broke military rules and regulations, and he is paying dearly for his mistake.
Now, however, as a civilian, he can moan and groan about Obama all he wants. He will no longer be a representative of our fine United States Marine Corps. He is becoming the individual he wanted to be.
-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary
Marine Sergeant Discharged for Criticizing Obama: Was That Fair? - Christian Science Monitor/Yahoo News