Ex-marine overstepped free speech

Sgt. Gary Stein, 26 years old and a marine for nine years, may see his career end in four months. He received a less-than-honorable discharge following a ruling from the Military Corps administrative board, after expressing an opinion with which the board did not agree. The most outstanding part of this ruling is that in defending this country’s freedom of speech, he sacrifices that very right as a member of the armed forces.

Stein created the Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook page, posting his refusal to obey orders from his commander in chief, President Barack Obama, but later removed the post specifying that he would only disobey unlawful orders. When he posted on the page, he was told to include a disclaimer that the group was not actually affiliated with the Armed Forces. The problems, however, did not end there.

Stein also posted on METOC, a Facebook network for active duty meteorologists and oceanographers, calling President Obama an “enemy to America.”

Stein is correct to discern the legality and morality of obeying certain orders — even when the highest-ranking commander issues them. As the post-World War II Nuremburg trials revealed, obeying orders without question can have horrific consequences. Further, a marine should be entitled to the rights he sacrifices his life to defend. That, however, is not the issue in question.

The problem with Stein’s approach is that he has consistently used a social networking site to make his dissenting opinion public and even went so far as to superimpose images of President Obama’s face on movie posters for “Jackass” and “The Incredibles,” renaming it “The Horribles.” Rather than using discretion and reporting only to his superior officers, who have sworn to defend the constitution even in the instance that the President is at odds with the officer. Stein chose to break his oath of loyalty to his commanding officer.

Stein, under his military oath, is held to a higher standard than civilians. His actions no longer reflect only upon himself, but upon the entire military. Whether his Facebook posts are affiliated with the armed forces, he is legally bound to uphold his promise.

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but for the same reason employees should not post negatively about their boss in a public forum, Stein should not share that opinion on Facebook without facing the consequences.