On social media: Opinion readers respond to Marine's Facebook comments and military free speech

This week, readers sounded off on Marine sergeant Gary Stein, who could face an "other than honorable" discharge because of comments made on Facebook about President Obama. Do citizens give up their free speech rights when they enter the military? Here's what readers had to say.


  1. On Facebook we asked: When people enter the military, do they also give up their right to free speech?

    Here are reader comments on Our View: "Marine's Facebook rants earn discharge."

    Michele Beaver Walker I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, he does have freedom of speech. However, if he made dishonorable comments to his commanding officer he would be reprimanded. As commander-in-chief, Obama does deserve his respect in the same way any other officer above him would.

    Michael Brussow they should be able to "comment" as civilians by leaving out any mention or image of military affiliation just as many people can editorialize and the remarks don't reflect the "opinion of management!"

    Tina Rakowski Whether you agree or disagree he is still your Commander In Chief and as a Military member you still need to respect, honor and protect like any other high ranked NCO or Officer.

    Barbara Iris Alsieux As a Marine, a person pledges certain rules and regulations. They are adhered to following them. Being a Marine is one of the highest honors in the Military. I believe that this Marine should receive a dishonorable discharge unless it can be proven that he was mentally incompetent.

    Rich Erickson You can say it but you have to face the consequences.

    Here are reader comments on the Opposing View from ACLU Foundation of San Diego Legal Director David Loy: "Marine has a right to criticize Obama."

    Van Ballard While not normally a fan of the ACLU, they are correct this time. When it gets to the point we can no longer criticize the president, then what do we have? Can you remember, Hitler, Pol-Pot, Kim Jong Ill, Marcos, and on and on. This president deserves all the criticism he is getting, and a whole lot more.

    Mary Nell Just have to follow orders, don't necessarily have to agree with them... as long as he was doing that, he should be fine. First and foremost, we have freedom of speech in this country. Let's not forget that!

    Deverett Angel The policy is both vague and contradicting in the context of new social media. In fact, nothing in the directive actually mentions social media and what activity is or is not approved for active duty service members."

    Cindi Wetzel He does have the right to say what he wants, it's his opinion. But, if he refuses to take orders from his Commander-In-Chief, it is a violation of his Marine Corps oath, and a court martial offense.

    Uncle Willie If you bad-mouth your boss in any business, you are likely to get canned. In the military you are bound by oath.
  2. Marine sergeant Gary Stein could face "other than honorable" discharge after Facebook comments aimed at President Obama. AP
  3. The nation's conversation outside USA TODAY on military free speech: