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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Right-wingers hate the ACLU except when. . .

Posted by on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Those damn liberals support the freedom of speech of a right-winger (a Marine being discharged for online anti-Obama speech). Be sure to bring this case up next time someone argues that the ACLU only supports libruls.


Comments (16) RSS

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That Marine was aware of the UCMJ. What he was supporting was treason and he's lucky he wasn't charged with it., furthermore he knows it which is why he was so contrite about it. If this had been about Bush and/or Cheney He'd have been an inmate at Guantanamo.
Posted by Dekinblus on April 26, 2012 at 9:38 AM · Report this
@1 I tend to agree that you cannot say you won't salute the CIC, you won't follow orders, etc. Just pointing out that the ACLU is kind of absolutist on the Constitution, unlike the people who claim it's their guiding light. Free speech is free speech.
Posted by Chicago Fan on April 26, 2012 at 9:42 AM · Report this
A Reuters article says it was more than just Facebook: "But at a hearing on the lawsuit in San Diego, District Judge Marilyn Huff said he also came under scrutiny for anti-Obama comments he posted to the military's internal network for meteorological and oceanographic information.

Huff said the online message posted by Stein read: 'As an active-duty Marine, I have sworn to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Obama is the economic enemy, the religious enemy, the domestic enemy.'"…

He disparaged his Command-in-Chief on a military network designed for dispersing important information. I support the ACLU in defending right-wing free speech, but this guy is toast.
Posted by Lumpmoose on April 26, 2012 at 9:47 AM · Report this
SpecialBrew 4
The thing is, though, the guy can exercise his free speech all he wants as a civilian right? I got the sense this wasn't about our constitutional right to free speech, it was about breaking a rule of the job. I don't think I'm allowed to say my boss is fucking bitch and I won't do her next assignment AND keep my job for her, right? No one is putting this guy in jail or fining him for his beliefs and words--just giving him the heave ho for breaking policy.
Posted by SpecialBrew on April 26, 2012 at 9:55 AM · Report this
I don't think it's weird that people tend to judge rights and obligations by their effects.

Too much of it and you wind up with monsters of hypocrisy and/or selfishness who will only object when their particular ox were gored; too little of it and you can end up monstrously imposing values on others no matter what the cost (and somehow the cost usually is mostly theirs).
Posted by Gerald Fnord on April 26, 2012 at 9:57 AM · Report this
Vince 6
That Marine got what he deserves.
Posted by Vince on April 26, 2012 at 10:31 AM · Report this
@4 that's pretty much it. He made disparaging comments about his boss on fb, so he was fired. Now he's whining about his constitutional rights. What an asshat.
Posted by kylecheez on April 26, 2012 at 10:32 AM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 8
It is a potentially interesting philosophical argument.

I'm a veteran, and reasonably familiar with the UCMJ. Yes, it appears that the marine violated the law. I remember that particular one being pounded into our brains in boot camp.

But... a law can't violate the constitution. Even the UCMJ cannot trump the constitution. The UCMJ generally tends to be stricter than most civilian laws, but it is nevertheless subject to the same constitutional constraints as any other laws. One might argue that this particular rule violates the first amendment. Just how much can the UCMJ inhibit a soldier's speech without violating his/her 1st Amendment rights? I'm not a constitutional law expert, so I really don't know, but I think it is a plausible argument to make.

Oh, and while it is sometimes frustrating, I'm actually glad that the ACLU occasionally steps in to defend right wing nutters, just to prove they are interested in the law, not a particular ideology.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on April 26, 2012 at 11:00 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 9
UCMJ depends on your rank. Officers are held to higher standards than non-coms.

That said, ignoring a lawful command is not one of the options.
Posted by Will in Seattle on April 26, 2012 at 11:11 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 10
8, I've served in the military too. When one joins the military, that person signs a contract, and agrees to a code of conduct.

Declaring that you will not follow orders is a big violation of that contract and code. Doing so on an official government web forum is a major breech as well. Gary Stein didn't just say it on Facebook.

As others have pointed out, a person can be fired from any job for exercising their right to free speech, if that free speech is used to cuss their boss out, or antagonize others. Stein can say he won't follow orders all he wants. No one is stopping him, but he just can't be a Marine and say it.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore on April 26, 2012 at 11:31 AM · Report this
@#8 as #10 said, any organization has the right to fire a worker who repeatedly and unrepentantly goes on the record declaring that their overall boss is a despicable human being, a threat to the organization (indeed, the sworn enemy of it), and that their directives as the head of the organization can and perhaps must be disobeyed - not specific orders that might be objectionable, but any orders, because of who they are.

Now take that situation, and add guns, and the right to sometimes kill people and blow stuff up, and a duty to protect the country and indeed the office of their overall boss.

This isn't a free speech issue; it's a Fake Conservative Martyr.
Posted by Warren Terra on April 26, 2012 at 11:48 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 12

Seems like the logical conclusion to how this country has come to view the military, and particularly how service members view it. It's not just a job that also happens to serve the country in an important way; it's an inalienable right to be able to sign up and keep the job and its benefits in perpetuity, no matter how ruinous military expenditures are for the country's future. Of course the guy thinks he can say whatever he wants and not be held to account for it.
Posted by keshmeshi on April 26, 2012 at 11:58 AM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 13
@10 & 11,

I didn't really mean to defend Stein's specific case. To be honest I haven't really paid all that much attention to the details of what he said and where, and frankly he sounds like a bit of an asshole.

I was just thinking back and remembering that I thought at the time I was in the service that the speech restrictions were excessive. I questioned the validity of some of the regulations.

I was more just considering the boundaries, the grey areas of what is or is not free speech, and how some tenants of the UCMJ push that a lot more than most civilian laws do. I also know serving in the military is a somewhat unique situation, and they are given a bit more latitude sometimes.

And I like the philosophy that the ACLU takes. That even right wing assholes are entitled to the same rights as any other citizen. You can't violate someone's rights just because you don't like them or don't agree with their ideology. If Stein's rights have been violated (and I'm not claiming to be an expert on whether or not that is the case), then he deserves to be defended, even if he is a blathering teabagger asshole. The ACLU obviously thinks they have an arguable case or they wouldn't have taken it.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on April 26, 2012 at 12:15 PM · Report this
malcolmxy 14
The military is subject to a different set of laws than ordinary citizens are, and they know that going in. DADT was repealed, but sodomy (which includes oral sex) is still illegal per article 125 of the UCMJ. The Supreme Court shot down sodomy laws in 2007 (around there...I can't remember the date of the Texas case), but that does not apply to the military.

As someone else noted, when one enlists into the military, they sign a contract. They are the ones who waive their rights. The rights are not taken from them.

The only issue I have with this is that the government routinely breaches their contract with members of the military and receive little penalty for it, but other than that, this decision was just.
Posted by malcolmxy on April 26, 2012 at 12:16 PM · Report this
Calling for the diselection of the sitting president is fine. Saying he's "the enemy" and that you won't salute or obey orders is unacceptable. If they let him get away with it they'd be undermining discipline. I respect the ACLU and I respect their decision to take up this man's case, but I hope the courts uphold his discharge.
Posted by I have always been... east coaster on April 26, 2012 at 2:48 PM · Report this
TLjr 16
Yet another anti-gummint nut living off the federal teat. I'm losing count of them.
Posted by TLjr on April 26, 2012 at 3:48 PM · Report this

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