Thursday, March 8, 2012

Free Speech In The Military, And Double Standards

I started thinking about this after reading this article on Yahoo!.

Basically, we have Marine Sgt. Gary Stein making a Facebook post saying that he "wouldn't follow unlawful orders" from the President. Actually, according to the article, the original post said that he would not follow orders from Obama at all, but was later edited to include only "unlawful" ones.

Now, I have no problem with refusing to follow illegal orders. In fact, I believe that's required of anyone in the military... which hardly makes it worth a Facebook post. That would be like me going on Facebook and posting "today, I'm not going to rob a bank". Well... yes, that's fantastic, and I'm sure everyone could agree with that stance. But since I would not be expected to rob a bank anyway, it would be quite odd for me to emphasize that fact.

I do have a couple of issues with this, however. I believe this post is more than just a statement that he wants to follow the Constitution; it seems to be intended to stir up bad feelings for the President. If we suddenly have troops who stop doing as ordered just because they don't like the President, that is obviously a huge problem. The military is no place for political activism. President Obama is the Commander In Chief, which basically makes him the big boss of the military. If it bothers a solider to the point where they don't feel they can follow orders, they should resign. Good people can lose their lives if this sort of thing starts really spreading.

The other, more political issue, is the huge double standard. When President Bush was sending us into Iraq, anyone (especially Democrat/liberal) who voiced dissent was immediately called out, and in many cases called names such as "terrorist". This article from 2006 contains such gems as "the concern is Bush will succeed in the battle against terrorism and relegate liberalism to the dustbin of history" and "No one is worried about declaring war on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda except Liberal Democrats. They are playing Russian Roulette with our lives". Implying that liberals would rather see America destroyed than see Bush succeed. Which is interesting, because that seems to be precisely how Republicans are behaving today with respect to President Obama. Better to let America die than let Obama claim any sort of victory.

Brendan Nyhan has a website with a very nice list of such statements. One quote from Attorney General John Ashcroft, speaking about liberals questioning provisions in the Patriot Act: " those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists...".

Double standards like this abound in politics, and it is both annoying and humorous. Just another example of the Republican motto: "We support the Constitution and free speech... as long as your speech is pro-Republican."

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