The case of a Marine who is facing discharge for posting disparaging comments about President Obama on Facebook has renewed a debate about free speech rights for members of the military.
A review board on Thursday recommended that Marine Sgt. Gary Stein be discharged for comments on his “Armed Forces Tea Party” site, where he called Obama “the domestic enemy,” superimposed his face on a “Jackass” movie poster and said he would not follow some orders from Obama.
There might be some grumbling, like from this Marine and his lawyer, but there's no debate. The military protects our democracy, but it certainly isn't one -- it can't ever be one, in fact. There is a chain of command to facilitate discipline and absolute authority, and whether the Marine likes it or not, the president is at the top of that chain. The story talks about the right to engage in "political speech" and the military perhaps needing to change its attitude a little in the age of social media, and there is something to that. But this went beyond political speech. Calling your commander the enemy is conduct unbecoming, and if a Marine doesn't understand what that kind of disrespect does to unit cohesion, there's not much chance of other service members getting it.