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And Then There Was Gary Stein

On May 1, 2012, in Editorial, USMC, by Bill

I had purposely stayed away from the sad story that is Gary Stein until the Marine Corps had rendered justice on this particular individual.  Now that a decision has been made, I’ll offer a couple of thoughts.

First of all, I agree with the decision to discharge this individual under other than honorable conditions and reduce him in rank to Lance Corporal (E-3). This is the highest rank in the Marine Corps that is NOT responsible (on paper) for the conduct and activities of other Marines. This two grade reduction indicates that Stein failed as a Marine non-commissioned officer.

Despite what Stein and his supporters would have you believe, this was never a first amendment issue.  This was about then Sergeant Stein’s willful and intentional violation of DOD Directive 1344.10.  This order (because that’s what it is), signed during the Bush administration, restricts the political activities of military active duty and retired personnel. (This is different from the Hatch Act which restricts the political activities of U.S. Government Civil Service employees.)  Stein had (and still has) a right as a U. S. citizen to speak his opinion, but he did not have the right (under this directive) to create a public forum supposedly representing the Armed Forces and ridicule his chain of command. Free speech is not free of consequences.

Frankly, in my personal opinion, I thought he should have been charged with sedition, Article 94 of the UCMJ, but that would have been a harder charge to make stick. But there was documentation that junior Marines read his remarks and commented in the affirmative on his political Facebook page.  That made it easier, I think, for the panel to find him guilty of  violating UCMJ General Article 134 because he compromised “good order and discipline in the armed forces.”

What I find most interesting in this whole turn of events is that by now making himself a “public figure” as he did (and defined in law), he now has the same burden of proof relative to libel and slander charges as his former civilian chain of command. In other words, he has to prove malice relative to anything that is written or spoken of him, which can be extremely difficult to do. I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Stein read this before he started his public Facebook forum. If he didn’t, he should have.

There is an excellent article at Liberty Zone, by blogger Nikki, on Mr. Stein’s situation. It is well worth reading because it gets to the point much better than I can. Sadly, I given Mr. Stein more bandwidth than he rightly deserves on this site. In short, Mr. Stein got exactly what he deserved and asked for. No more and no less.

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2 Responses to And Then There Was Gary Stein

  1. Jose says:

    Very well put. I had to go read the news first to know the details. I really don’t know what this Marine was thinking, but he knew better. I’m sure he thought he was not going to get in trouble, but working at legal for the Marine Corps for about a year, I saw many of Marines get in trouble due to facebook. What is placed on the internet is dangerous because you do not know who is seeing it and its there forever. At first I thought maybe he is miguided and someone failed him along the way in that guidance, Then iI read the news articles he was a 9 year Sgt and he definetly knew what he was doing and deserves what he got. Supposedly starting a talk show today May1, I doubt it will suceed.

    • Bill says:

      Thanks for reading. He was warned and those who ignore warnings get what they get. In his case, it didn’t work out the way he hoped.

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