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Marine Corps Sgt. Gary Stein was "other-than-honorably" discharged because of a Defense Department rule that forbids US citizens serving in the armed forces to participate in certain forms of political activity and activism, including publishing partisan content.

On the Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook page, Stein had referred to the President as a liar. He also alluded to the fact that he would not follow certain orders that were issued by the president.


“I took an oath to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and I will not obey unconstitutional (and thus illegal) and immoral orders,” Stein wrote on his personal Facebook page.

Do you think he should he have been discharged?
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105 comments
 
If you're in the military and you're not willing to follow orders, tough luck.
 
Yes. He signed a contract, & rules are rules.
 
Is that not like criticising your CEO?
 
Truth hurts. Obama is gone in 2012. If you can't have freedom of speech, that's a problem in USA. Hope next president reverses that decision.
 
Yes he should have been discharged...He signed a contract with the military and has to follow its rules. Todays right wingers somehow believe they are exempt from participating on anything that is counter to their beliefs...How do you suppose Stein feels about defending the constitution when it comes to the separation of church and state?
 
I (state your name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
John Hart
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This guy must have been sleeping when they went over the UCMJ in bootcamp.
Rob Go
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Here's the oath:
I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

If I worked for Mashable and said Pete Cashmore sucked balls I'd better be prepared to maybe just maybe get fired for some reason.
 
He said it himself he would not follow certain orders by the president. Like it or not his president is the commander in chief, thus Stein by stating this overtly is a risk since he is (was) in the military.
 
Yes, he should have been discharged. If you can't follow the orders of the Commander-in-Chief; than you should have joined the Marines. Soldiers are not there to make their own decisions but to follow the orders of others. Plain and simple.

Don't even get me started on Bush's military decisions.
 
The Army are perfectly entitled to do this - if he's signed up to their IT and social media policies, which I'd like to hope they have.

Personally, I'd rather not know the political persuasions of armed forces or public service employees (teachers, police, firemen etc), as it shouldn't be important, but I'd like to hope that they aren't as dumb as this guy is (not from a political standpoint). It's public, you doofus!
 
On the Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook page ... All thats needed to be read, just saying ^^
 
+Ben Stroud Entitled to do this? Do you even know what the UCMJ is or are you just talking out of your ass?
 
Absolutely not! I applaud Stein for standing up for the honor of the Constitution. He should be heralded by his superiors, not punished. But, I am not at all surprised...
 
Maybe if he had left out the part where he wouldn't follow orders then perhaps I could argue that he shouldn't have been discharged over free speech.
 
Yes, he should have been discharged. And, I would have said the same thing had a member of the military trashed G W Bush on their Facebook page in the way that Sgt. Gary Stein did.
John Hart
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People need to stop bringing up free speech here. This is not a case of free speech at all, it's a case of stating "I will not do my job because I don't like my boss". No matter what your profession you'd be fired over an attitude like that.
 
Every person, no matter their job, should be able to share their beliefs. But every person is also responsible for everything they say, no matter if it is online or elsewhere.
Having served in the Navy, I remember that oath. "I swear to protect the Constitution... from all enemies, foreign and domestic..." But how many people remember that part?
+John Hart it's not about "I don't like my boss" it's more like "my boss makes bad decisions, so for the sake of the company, I will not follow them."
 
Correction Mashable. He was discharged not because of his political affiliations or because of what he said. He was discharged because he publicly promoted his political opinions WHILE IN UNIFORM! That is expressly prohibited and grounds for discharge, which is exactly what happened. The content of his views was irrelevant (though I'm sure it didn't make him any fans with the administration). This is no different in the private sector, where people are regularly disciplined or fired for engaging in personal actions while inadvertently acting as representatives of their employers (often while wearing uniforms). he knew the rules and he broke them.
 
Absolutely! In addition to being discharged, he should have spent a bit of time in the brig. However, he'll likely end-up as some 'folk-hero' among the right-wing nut cases who will parade him and his cause around over the next few months.
 
I disagree +John Hart. This has nothing to do with free speech or "I don't like my boss." This is a case of "You want me to do what??? That's not right, or legal and goes against everything this country stands for." This guy is a hero. It doesn't matter who his boss is, what matters is that he stood up for his country.
 
This seems really easy for people who want to get out of the military.
 
+James Dinh Free Speech and many of the other protections of The Constitution are voluntarily given up upon joining the US Military. I never would, but I grew up in the Army and my father always pointed out the correctness of the action whenever a military man was booted out for criticizing the POTUS.
 
bottom line: if you admit to not obeying orders there will be consequences, regardless of the reasons, and he knows he could be discharged for it.
 
+John Hart right back atcha John, that's a clever, well thought-out response right there.

Not familiar with the full details of the UCMJ procedure, no. Don't really need to be from the jist of this post - I was just surmising that, as with most companies, the Marines must have an IT and social media policy, and this activity surely must be covered. And also, his comments were found to be in breach of their defense department rules, so he was discharged. I think that's pretty clear.

It's not about the politics of this one - it's about policy, and if he's broken it then that's kind of why he's been discharged.
 
As someone who served in the Army, I have to think this wouldn't have played out like this before 2008 and would have been embraced by the media and or the ACLU. By the way, where is the ACLU on this one?
 
The President is Commander-in-Chief, period. That is what the Constitution says. As a former Gator Sailor, he should have been given a dishonorable discharge. As they teach you once you are in the Service, you salute the uniform, not the person wearing the uniform. The man is a disgrace to the Corp.
 
Yes, I do. Had he done that to a general, the same would have occurred. If this man truly understood the Constitution he loves, he'd know that 'President' isn't just a politician; it's also "Commander in Chief."
 
Sorry +James Welsh, this is nothing new. Usually the big news articles are about when a General or Admiral criticizes the POTUS, but this sort of thing has been around for a long time. Frankly, I would consider any POTUS that didn't fire a critic among the ranks of General Officer to lack good judgement. For a low-ranking doofus like this guy, the POTUS need not bother ... someone else should fire this obviously unintelligent soldier.
 
How come no one gets that it is NOT OK to blindly follow orders if what you are being asked to do goes against the constitution for the country you are sworn to protect??? The constitution comes first. Period. It doesn't matter who the puppet master is...
 
The topic is complex... free speech rights, oath of service, details of what he said, when and where and in which context. There is a reason why court cases typically produce more paper than a newspaper article: details matter.

[edit: e.g., the press states there were several facebook posts since January. Who knows whether he did get a reprimand in his file and still didn't stop?]

With the information publicly available so far, I don't feel comfortable supporting either view.
 
then +Christopher Warter people shouldn't join the armed forces because your job is to take orders. unless you're a Supreme Court justice in uniform who can determine constitutionality of any order it is imperative to do your job as ordered.
 
The Constitution clearly states the Commander in Chief part, +Christopher Warter. This is how our military works. Civilians are not meant to understand it as it mimics no other corporate, private nor public body.

Also, no one who signs up for the military--it is all voluntary--does not know this when signing up. Announcing that you will disobey future orders will result in future deaths. Cant. Have. That.
 
+Christopher Warter you assume incorrectly that people don't get that. I get that. I would never join the military. But someone who does should get that it's NOT OK to be in the military and criticize the POTUS. It's part of the deal. There are ways to protest, including the one he's chosen. There are also consequences for protest, which vary according to the method chosen.
 
Every soldier took an oath and should be able to use their own judgement. Following orders is not an excuse when you've committed war crimes.
 
If everybody in army or any other department start enforcing their personally approved rightness, we will have another Afghanistan here is USA, he should have resigned and joined a political party and and then raised his politically motivated concerns, he simply ain't fit to be in army or any other work requiring mature thinking and self control because he is used to putting his thoughts first.
 
+Linda Plue and +Josh Butler introduce Red Herrings. This person can and should refuse to follow unconstitutional orders ... and even constitutional orders which violate the Geneva Conventions, the Code of Hammurabi or his personal code of ethics. And until then, he should also avoid criticizing the POTUS ... as was very clearly explained before he took that oath.
 
SSG in the Army here. First the oath says I will obey the President of the United States and the officers appointed over me (regardless if you politically agree with them or not) so that's where he messed up.

Second as members of the armed forces we defend the constitution but give up some of its protection and are bound by UCMJ instead.

Third as Non-Commission Officers (NCOs) we have some le-way on making political statements (out of uniform) Commission Officers do not. But what he stated was the intent of mutiny. He was discharged correctly in this case
 
+Linda Plue as long as the guy had a Supreme Court finding on his issue, you are right! Otherwise, of course, it's all about his personal approval/interpretation.
 
+Linda Plue the suggestion that someone's orders are unconstitutional is a criticism ... your statement to the contrary notwithstanding.
 
Pretty simple, he violated the UCMJ by doing what he did and got the punishment appropriate for essentially telling the president that he will choose which orders to follow and which to disregard. You give up certain things when you volunteer to go into the military.
 
Out of curiosity, what supposed 'unconstitutional' or 'illegal' orders was he saying he wouldn't listen to? Is the POTUS ordering him to take over a city in the US?! Are they being ordered to suspend the Constitution and declare martial law?! What could be so bad that he thinks it's worth ruining his career, disrespecting his Commander, and looking like a fool on the internet?
I'm a very liberal person and I'm all about free speech, but when I was in the military, I knew when to keep my opinions to myself- as per the rules set down through my oath and contract.
Anyway, I'm sure the GOP will have him on-stage as a poster child against Obama and his 'socialist policies' or some other such nonsense.
 
He just posted what most of America is thinking.
 
The statements Stein initially made (and later edited) were more inflammatory than what's posted here (the edited version), and the review board on him looked at the totality of the evidence... where, at one point, he called the commander in chief a "domestic threat" in clear reference to his armed services oath ("...defend the country against all threats, foreign and domestic.)

Soldiers are trained that they're obligated to oppose any patently unlawful order, so the amended dialogue itself is not inflammatory.To suggest this in the recap is rather irresponsible journalism.

Contrary to popular tv culture, the military is sensitive about anything that can be seen as an armed force opposing the lawful from the civilian authority. Doing that jeopardizes democracy more than anything, so soldiers are expected to respect the chain of command and not work to undermine it. Military law acknowledges that some "self expression" is necessary to sound psychological health but also stresses the importance of isolating this from one's military duty.

Most importantly, though, statements that demonstrate repeated open disdain for the chain of command are indicators that the person may be unable to adequately and trustfully execute his duties. When these reach a certain threshold, it would be irresponsible for the military NOT to establish a review. This review panel does not suggest discharge lightly.
 
+Linda Plue you write "Committing acts against the Geneva Convention and/or the US Constitution leaves you hanging out to dry." so I ask: To what acts are you referring in this case?

In truth, if this guy had just refused an actual unconstitutional order, this would be a very different story. Instead we have a confused grunt making stupid and politically motivated statements that violate his oath. And he's being treated appropriately.
 
Definitely, the discharge is justified. The President is commander-and-chief. Public criticism by active duty military is illegal and dishonorable, and completely outside of the chain of command.
 
+Christopher Warter please don't base judgement on his amended statement, which is actually an accurate representation of military rules (every soldier has the obligation to oppose a patently-unlawful order). That was his revised post. The review panel examined a full pattern of behavior that included patently calling the commander the "domestic threat" that his oath says he would defend the country against. He'd been repeatedly instructed in what would be considered legitimate self-expression and what wouldn't, and was reprimanded in the past for other transgressions.
 
He knew the rules. He was stupid, good riddance. He got what he deserved. When we invaded Iraq, even though we thought Bush was a moron and the invasion was wrong, we still supported our troops. This dumb ass runs his mouth about our President, his Commander-in-Chief, and well like I said, he got what he deserved.
 
The Oath of Service states many things, if Sgt Stein willingly broke the Oath in ANY way he should be removed, 90% doesn't cut it.

Sgt Stein, knew he could not be the soldier he was expected to be when he volunteered so he should have gone back to being Mr. Stein. He choose to be a publicly political soldier which is dangerous.

Sgt Stein was reckless and stupid, this is not acceptable of a Marine.
 
Regarding "unlawful orders" - there seems to be some confusion here. The military doesn't teach blind obedience. In fact, it spends a great effort and time teaching even its lowest-ranking soldiers that they have a duty and obligation to refuse unlawful orders and follow the "laws of warfare." The trick is that these orders have to be patently unlawful. It can't be just due to a disagreement in policy. Shoot noncombatants? Patently unlawful. Refuse to participate in the invasion of Iraq because you disagree that the "Bush doctrine's" dismissal of using "clear and present danger" criteria for legitimization of pre-emptive strikes? Not so much. Resign, accept the consequences if you believe strongly enough about the issue, and then enter the political arena to change that policy.

Stein wasn't discharged for stating that he'd refuse unlawful orders. He'd be applauded for that. He was discharged for repeatedly undermining the chain of command beyond the limits the military premits and probably for demonstrating that he couldn't be relied on to differentiate between "policy differences" and "unlawful orders" if he encountered them.
 
I thought the Corps was not a political entity. Even Generals have been fired for publicly expressing their views. Seems like a made to order test case for public discourse. Stunt? Publicity?
 
Disobeying an order (or promising to blindly do so) is grounds for dismissal. no-brainer. Just because you don't like your commanding officer's political ideology doesn't mean you can willy-nilly choose not to obey orders without consequence.
 
Like in many other jobs, you can choose to either do what you signed up for and are paid for, or find another job. I guess he just needed to find another job and now has the opportunity to do so. Neither in the military nor anywhere else, you are just allowed to pick and choose what you want to do and disregard the chain of command.
 
Stein took an oath, to defend the Constitution, it doesn't appear he took the bar exam. for the general public to "interpret" laws or orders to determine their validity would be chaos, even anarchy. there are procedures in place to dispute and/or voice opinions F.Y.I. FACEBOOK is not one of them
 
This story nor the previous is exactly clear what orders he would have a problem following. I myself have been in the military for a decade and I will tell you there is honestly no difference in following one commander in chief than the other. Honestly, if you you didn't know who the President was at any given point you'd notice very little difference in the military. He is wrong in that he did in fact swear an oath to obey the President. Furthermore if he has such a problem with Obama why did he choose to reenlist while he was Commander-in-Chief (he's been in 9 years, odds are he's reenlisted at some point during his presidency). It sounds like he has an ongoing history of running off at the mouth and I promise you he had been spoken to several times by his chain of command about it. As recently as March he's still questioning Obama's birth certificate. That's not conservativism, that's ignorance. He knew what he was doing and now he is trying to play political martyr.
 
Disobeying unconstitutional orders is good and right. When and if they are issued. Talking on facebook or anywhere about potentially disobeying orders in the future is just stupid for any soldier to do. His morals are to be applauded... but he deserved discharge for his ignorant mouth.
 
Matthew Couto and David Haddad you two are priceless. You call people names and then beat the crap out of your keyboard to make more moronic statements. Have a nice day.
 
Good for him for standing up for what is right not for what the president tells people is right, which in return is illegal and wrongful against the American people.
 
I believe that he was okay by stating, "I took an oath to the constitution, not to the politicians, and I will not obey unconstitutional (and thus illegal) and immoral orders." As every military member knows, this is a part of the UCMJ that every service member is held liable to. If they feel an order is illegal or immoral, then they can find themselves in trouble for doing. Those are not the comments which got thim into trouble or discharged. He was charged (and rightly so since he was a member of active duty during that time) for his political comments pertaining to particular politicians (Barack Obama) being a liar and not qualified to be President. I am surprised that all he received was a "other-than-honorable" discharge from the military as they usually try to make examples out of people doing things like this to ensure others do not do it just to get out.
 
I do believe that the politicians in the past few decades have eroded our civil liberties with the Patriot Act, the NDAA, and HR 347. Those directly conflicted with 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 10th Amendments... They have even been pushing hard for sometime to restrict us from our 2nd Amendment. So it doesn't really matter between the Republicans or the Democrats as both parties have been doing it!
 
First of all Mr. Petty. I have spent a long career in the military and was honorably discharged. I am now a citizen of the United States. If you are still a member of the services, then you have sworn to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against enemies both foriegn and domestic. That means you should be protecting my 1st Amendment. You should not be going around informing citizens that they must address individuals by their title no matter if they are your direct commander (as in CPT, COL, or GEN) or if they are your political representatives (as in Congressman/Representative, Senator, or President). If you are offended by my response, then I highly suggest that you check with your JAG Officer before making any other remarks on a public forum.
 
Of course you have the right to free speech, but no one has the right to free speech WITHOUT consequences. He ragged on his boss. If you rag on your boss or company on a social media site, you will be fired. I know I will. Blogs are filled with self-righteous people whining about how they got fired for it.

This is not about Free Speech. He said his piece, no one prevented him from saying it. But he spoke against his boss and employer, and as such got fired, just like any other citizen.

There are always consequences.
 
I just would like to know what orders Obama would give that would be so difficult to conscientiously follow. Unless this guy is against certain constitionally questionable war practices that Obama has continued and expanded on from his predecessor. If THAT'S so, then I'm a bit more with this guy. But if its the typical crap that you hear, then I can't say I feel too much pity for his situation.
 
OOPS. RTFA. Birth Certificate stuff again? Sorry, sucker.
 
I agree rules are rules, but this infraction seems more worthy of 50 pushups or cleaning the latrine, rather than a full discharge. 
 
Willfully disobeying a direct order can be considered grounds for dishonorable discharge. This man swore an oath to follow the orders of the President.


"I, XXXXXXXXXX, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Discharging this young man was the right course of action.
 
The short answer is he is wrong.. I remember taking the oath myself and I was able to find it fairly easily.. "I, ___, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
Right in the middle is where you swear to obey the orders of the president.
 
I think he should have been given slightly more lenient treatment. he claims to support the US Constitution, which gives the power of military control to the President. He said that he wouldn't obey "Unconstitutional orders" That goes right along with the oath. The president, however, is also bound to defend the Constitution, so there should be no conflict of opinion.
 
What if the President orders you to do something that is against the Constitution?
 
Do you think he should he have been discharged? Of course

(Was that a serious question +Mashable ?)
 
I think they made an example out of him, that being said I think the example will backfire on them as more soldiers question the intentions of those above them that are working to strip the rights and privacy from the very people that our military was meant to protect. Our forefathers all said that a military must be developed to protect the people from the government and that said militias must retain the right to bear arms. The military as we have come to know it is acting more as henchmen for a government that is owned and run by world banks. (has been far longer then I would like to say) The difference is that now people like this are starting to stand behind the people they enlisted to defend rather then the insane orders of murderous power hungry followers that claim to be leaders
 
+S Lo Unfortunately, he added the "unconstitutional" part later. Prior to that, his post said he'd refuse any order, and that was the post that was copied and sent to his superior, who had already warned him about such talk (including calling the president the "domestic enemy" that he took an oath to protect the country against). That pattern is what got him in trouble, not the single (edited) post.
 
He clearly stated, that he thinks, that the president of the United States is a liar. Not only did he deserve to be discharged, if he would be only half the man he pretends to be, he should have never signed up or at least quit the service.
 
What an idiot!!! Did he forget what he said when he gave his oath to follow orders from the President.
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I dont feel sorry for him. You have no rights as a service member.
 
He might not have rights since he's owned by the government, but he is right that he swore to protect the constitution and not the politicians. In fact, the politicians take a very similar oath of service where they pledge to support the constitution.
 
His quote might sound nice, but when he signed up to serve the country, the President then became his boss. Not some politician, the Commander In Chief. If he has a problem with that, then the discharge is appropriate.
 
He absolutely deserved to be discharged. The military can not afford to entertain the idea that service member will take a selective attitude toward what orders the decide are worth following.
 
Selective attitude toward orders have deserved him this discharge. His political view, though, should not be a matter of the military's discourse.
 
Every member of the military is briefed about the prohibition of active political discourse , etc. no excuses, he knew the rules.
 
Men in uniform are not civilian they are soldier and they should follow orders specially the president and not his own idea.
 
This headline and the subsequent media coverage have been intentionally misleading. What got this particular sergeant in trouble isn't simply that he "criticized Obama on Facebook." Rather, it's that he 1) created a fan page called the "Armed Forces Tea Party" which was both openly military-oriented and political and 2) he repeated on several occasions that he would not follow orders from the Commander-in-Chief (POTUS). He wasn't discharged because he expressed a political opinion, he was discharged because he violated regulations and protocol when using his military uniform to help him lobby his political opinions.
 
Total BS as its alright if he had died while serving as a Marine but how dare he speak his mind as his constitutional right!!!!!!
 
mad and facist, I have no other comment but this US Government is dangerous
 
It is one of the many sacrifices our troops make: their rights to criticize their Commander in Chief for as long as they serve. Every single one knows that and Sgt Stein knew it too.
 
I'm going to have to say NO on this one and these are my basic thoughts. Marine or not, he is protected by the same first amendment rights we all have, including freedom of speach, which is what this marine was exercising. Yes, he did say he would disobey orders which in that case, if he did disobey, then I'd agree with a court marshal, however, he did not disobey orders, he just said he would. There is a fine, but distinct difference in talking the talk, and walking the walk. When this marine, who overall sounds like a good soldier, is in combat, seeing his friends in danger and an order comes in that might conflit with his personal philosophy, I'm betting he'd still follow the orders. For example, as a tax accountant I sometimes get frustrated processing returns with extreme loopholes and getting the super wealthy huge breaks, I don't like it, I say, "I'm not doing these returns anymore", but then, when my manager and friend say, "Hey, can you take care of this return?" I say sure! We've all been disgruntled with a boss, we're all allowed to express that. This marine did not violate the rules, he just said he would... is that a crime?
 
I can't believe it's seriously even a question. He said he refuses to shoot Americans and this is what he gets? He's being made an example out of for any other soldier that might decide to think for themselves.
 
technically it was the way he presented his statements in a partisan fashion that got him discharged. and I have to disagree with Nate that maybe does not understand that certain civil liberties operate differently under military law.
 
Military restrictions on free speech is important to maintain good order and discipline. It's pretty damn important that everyone respect their superiors regardless of whether they agree with their politics or not. He was given the opportunity to stop his behavior and ignored his superiors. He deserves his punishment. There is a place for speech and independent thought, but it doesn't not belong on the battlefield.
 
I am a strong free speech advocate. As a veteran, however, I must say he was in the wrong. Soldiers serve in the military - and their ultimate commander is the President. So whether they agree with him or not, it is not their role, nor their right, to make statements against him. It's ok to make general political statements, but to personally and publicly attack the President is unacceptable. If we allowed the military to make such statements it would represent a threat to legitimacy of our military, the legitimacy of the Office of President, and consequently a threat to national security. It should also be noted, for those that are not aware, that UCMJ trumps any Federal or State code, and that case law has shown soldiers in the military do not have the same rights as citizens.
 
Apparently he is ignorant of the fact the President of the United States is Commander and Chief of all the armed forces.
 
No he should not have been discharged since no one even knows if the President is a legal citizen or not and if he is not then all his orders are null.
 
And I though USA had freedom of speech....
 
Jibran, Mr. Stein is free to speak his mind, His superiors were free to recommend him for the "other-than-honorable" discharge
 
Being in the military... Shoot, someone in prison has more First Amendment rights than a soldier does. As a soldier you are the property of the US Military, you are to think as a collective of that military, you do not actually have a mind of your own. You ARE the military. Sgt. Stein should have remembered that rule.
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