Former United States Marine Corps ex-Sergeant Gary Stein, charged with conduct "prejudicial to good order and discipline," has received a "less-than-honorable" discharge from service. With the conclusion of this situation, one would think that media coverage of Stein's troubles would be clearer. In other words, odd headlines like Marine Discharged For Criticizing President Obama need to go extinct quick, fast, and in a hurry. Why? Because critique of civilian politics is fine, those kinds of comments are certainly available for any member of America's armed forces to make since they are United States citizens. It should be more clear to everyone, however, that active duty military personnel do not have complete freedom of speech rights.

Marines, sailors, and soldiers are contractually obligated for several years under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a far more strict and clear set of codes than common U.S. law. Stein crossed the line by posting several derogatory comments about his Commander-in-Chief, but the following post from Stein is as clear a violation of  Code as I can imagine:

"As an Active Duty Marine I say 'Screw Obama' and I will not follow all orders from him ... has [sic] for saluting Obama as commander-in-chief ... I will not!"
I've seen far too many media outlets doing a lousy job covering this by presenting Stein's discharge as a freedom of speech issue—which it is not. This is about violating the UCMJ and Stein, in my opinion, got off easy. The former Sergeant was warned to cease the types of comments he was posting, he fought the charges and lost, and he continues to act like a victim ("I think they're trying to use me as an example"). His appearances on "news" programs, subsequent comments, poor spelling and grammar, and affiliation with the Tea Party are all indicative of his lousy cognitive abilities, ignorance of history, and misunderstanding of the nine-year commitment he pissed away by ranting like a bitchy little troll on Facebook. I'm certain he'll continue to dishonor himself and besmirch any legacy he may have had with the Marine Corps posthaste.

I served in the Marine Corps and ex-Sergeant Gary Stein's behavior personally disturbs and insults me as much as the Marines who urinated on dead Taliban fighters, took smiling photos with a suicide bomber's body parts, and posed with Nazi flags. There is no excuse for this dishonorable behavior and all of these Marines—as well as the civilians publicly defending them—should known better.

(For reference, this is a very good article about Stein's cockup and subsequent fall.)