Good Riddance: US Marine Booted For Criticizing President Obama on Facebook

Jamie Reidy, a former Army officer, applauds the USMC for discharging a Marine who dissed Obama online.

CNN reported on the discharge given as the result of the Marine’s posts on Facebook.

Sgt. Gary Stein was given an “other-than-honorable” discharge, said Capt. Brian Block, a spokesman for the Marines. Among other comments posted to his Facebook page, Stein called Obama a liar and suggested he would not follow some orders issued by the president.

Hooah, USMC!

Sergeant Gary Stein, naturally, is confused by this decision.

“I have spent the last 9 years honorably serving this great nation and the Corps,” Stein wrote on his personal Facebook page. “Even though I will be discharged no one can take the title of Marine away from me… Semper Fi.”

Maybe not, Gary, but they can call you “Idiot.” Reading his statement, I can’t help but think he’s really saying, “I served nine years only because Facebook didn’t let non-college students on till 2007.”

Do servicemen and women have political philosophies? Of course. Are those mostly “red state” in nature? Yes. I served during the beginning of the Clinton Era, and, believe me, nobody acted happy to have a liberal at the top of the chain of command.

But that’s where President Clinton sat. He’s not called the “Commander in Chief If I Feel Like Following Orders.”

The military is not America. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines do not have the right to free speech. We relinquish that right when we enlist or receive our commissions as officers. We don’t get paid to think. We don’t get paid to opine. No, we get paid to follow orders.

Apparently, ex-Marine Stein has never seen A FEW GOOD MEN. (How that is possible when the movie airs on TNT nearly every weekend, I dunno.)

“We follow order or people die. It’s that simple.” – Colonel Nathan Jessup, a.k.a. Jack Nicholson. (Things get good at the :43 mark.)

We Follow Orders

Do you agree with the USMC’s decision to boot Stein?



About Jamie Reidy

Jamie Reidy is a former U.S. Army officer turned little blue pill pusher turned author. His first book "Hard Sell: The Evolution of A Viagra Salesman"
served as the basis for the movie "Love and Other Drugs" starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Jamie is currently writing his new book, "Game On: One Fanatic's Fantastic, Foolish and Futile Attempt to Attend 365 Sporting Events in 365 Days." He discovered his latest story featured on Good Men Project - "Hope Shoots and Scores" - on Day 39 of his crazy journey.


  1. Anonymous says:

    I have no problem with what Stein did. Sometimes you do the right thing regardless of the consequences. He knew the consequences and was willing to endure them. This thing of “he’s the Commander and Chief therefore we will do what he says and respect him no matter what” is crap. The problem isn’t Stein. The problem is that it’s important that the American People elect a reasonably respectable Commander in Chief and the American People didn’t do that the past two times.

  2. Peter Houlihan says:

    I’d like to have a little more context here.

    Nuremberg firmly established that “following orders” wasn’t a reasonable excuse for abandoning morality so, yes, there are circumstances under which disobeying orders is the right and reasonable thing to do.

    Equally I’d argue that everyone has the right to free speech. Even if they’re servicemen.

  3. The Bad Man says:

    “Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy.”
    -Henry Kissinger

  4. Everyone has freedom of speech. Period. I’ll be exercising my freedom and not reading your site anymore. What a shame, some of the other articles were decent.

    • The Wet One says:

      Don’t let the door hit your behind on the way out…

      Why some people can’t just accept that the elbows go up when you go into the corners in this online posting game, I’ll never understand.

      If you really want to test yourself, go to an extreme right wing site and defend your political beliefs and call them out (alternatively, do the reverse). That will toughen your skin up fast, or prove that you don’t have what it takes to comment online. Stay on the sidelines if you can’t take a hit or two. We won’t mind.

      The Wet One

  5. Copyleft says:

    It’s a tired and worn-out dodge to claim, after publicly attacking your Commander in Chief, that you were only talking about “unlawful orders,” when it’s clear you were just ranting about how much you hate Democrats and would gladly refuse to do your duty to demonstrate such hatred.

    Nobody believes it’s about “unlawful orders”–including your own supporters, ex-Sgt. Stein. So you’re not only an honorless loser, but a liar as well.

  6. Krishnabrodhi says:

    I totally understand why the Marines did this. After spending 8.5 years in the military if I learned any one thing… I learned this. To the military soldiers are like bullets. In the thick of fighting you want a pretty damn good guarantee that when you tell your finger to pull the trigger that bullet is going to come out of that gun. A bullet that is going to question orders and right out refuse them is a defective bullet. And by saying he would not obey an order from the commander and chief in the military’s eyes he labeled himself as a defective and unservicable bullet. Label it with adjectives like stupid, harsh, cruel or whatever… but that is the game he chose to play when he signed his name on the dotted line.

    I’m sure he’ll be fine though.. there is life after the military and it ain’t that bad 🙂

  7. Totally disagree with this.

    The solider fires the gun, he is responsible for what he does.

    The Vietnam war ended because so many american troops refused to fight that the government was losing control of the army

    If fewer people killed when they are told to, then we would have a much less violent world.

  8. Jamie Reidy says:

    Obviously, SGT Stein was not referring to “unlawful orders.” He tried to claim that in later posts; too fucking late.

    As a brand new 2nd Lieutenant in Japan, a bachelor Captain took me out for beers and sushi. Only, I’d never had sushi before. The fish arrived and I blanched like a 2nd grader.

    ME: I’m not eating that, sir.
    HIM: Yes, you are, LIEUTENANT.
    ME: No, sir.
    HIM: I order you to eat that sushi.
    ME: Sir, I don’t think under UCMJ you can order me to eat sushi.
    HIM (shrugging): I guess we’ll find out at the court martial.

    Rather than become the first officer ever convicted of violating a direct order to eat raw fish, I tried it. THANK GOD! It’s now my favorite meal.

    • lol

      • The Wet One says:

        And that is how it gets done in the military. I order you to die, and thus you die. I order you to kill those children and thus those children die. I order you to nuke your hometown and thus your hometown is nuked.

        I do love the military. I wish I had one of my own to play with! The fun I could have!!!!

    • Peter Houlihan says:

      How about if you were convinced that eating the flash of an animal was morally repugnant and not becoming of an officer?

      Be specific, what orders did he say he’d refuse to follow? I’m guessing they referred to something a little more morally hazardous than eating fish.

  9. Wirbelwind says:

    Befehl ist befehl, Mein Herr ! Wir mussen die Juden ausrotten !
    Seriously, it’s really nice to think the strongest and the most advanced technologically military on this planet still follows “just following orders” line of defense. And punishes people that (correctly) state that Obama (Peace prize rotfl) is a liar and that he would not follow SOME (presumably unlawful) orders.

    • I know 15 years ago when passing through enlistment, MEPS and BMT the rules for enlisted men and women were spelled out very clearly before and after taking the oath. Our opinion on matters of politics and disagreement with orders, policy, procedures, etc are not valued and sharing them in public can result in disciplinary action up to and including dishonorable discharge.

      I’m assuming this hasn’t changed.

  10. “We don’t get paid to think.”

    Oh, we get paid to think. After all judgment is a core competence of leadership. We get paid to think, but an officer is on parade 24 hours a day, and that includes his or her mouth.

    And the same goes for enlisted folk, especially where they can get overheard by the general public. That twit was failing to think when he ran his mouth. It doesn’t matter if it’s racial hate speech, sexual harrassment or mutinous speech like his.

    Good riddance and good call on the part of the Marines.

  11. I do agree with their decision. My views are undoubtedly colored by my comparatively left-wing politics, nonetheless you draw exactly the right distinction, because as far as our troops go:

    Hate your commander in chief if you must, denigrate him, swear under your breath, spit through your teeth, seethe with rage. But if an order comes down from above you on the chain of command, follow it.

    Seem simple, right? Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as you suggest, either for ex-Sgt. Stein or for anyone else in or out of uniform. I actually agree with Sgt. Stein not only that military commanders are capable of immoral, illegal, unconstitutional orders, but that someone in the chain of command needs to stand up for the rule of law when a presidential administration disregards it.

    How different am I than Stein, really, for saying that if I were in the military I would have serious problems executing an order to waterboard a prisoner, in violation of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution, U.S. statutory law, and treaties to which we are a party? How can I say that military personnel should reject such an order when it comes from above, but that Stein was wrong to say he wouldn’t follow an unconstitutional order issued by President Obama?

    Answer: he’s an Ignoramus First Class who swears to resist illegal orders that President Obama has never given and will never give outside of right-wing porn sites and nutcase “sovereign citizen” blog posts, and the example I cited above actually happened and was actually unconstitutional.

    But that’s only a political difference between me and Stein. His interpretations of what would be an illegal order to follow are sincere, lunacy though they may be. As loathe as I am to say we can start kicking Marines out of the Corps for being frothing right-wing ignoramuses, that comes closer to describing what happened to Stein.

    How can we feel about such a political judgment? On balance, I have to say I approve. Stein’s fantasies of unconstitutional orders are the stuff of fiction, and though his ignorance has been continually fanned by shameless hucksters on TV, radio and the internet, they have resulted in an extremist.

    And yet I still want committed people in the military available to resist torture, warrant-less wiretapping, extra-judicial killings and extraordinary rendition, all of which are in my legal opinion (yes, I’m a lawyer) unconstitutional.

    So maybe, Stein wasn’t really discharged for suggesting he might not follow all orders he received. Maybe he really got tossed for having extreme right-wing political views. And maybe, in spite of myself, I’m just fine with that.

    • “How can I say that military personnel should reject such an order when it comes from above, but that Stein was wrong to say he wouldn’t follow an unconstitutional order issued by President Obama?’

      Unconstitutional? You are right to point out the duty to refuse to comply with unlawful orders. But if he wants refuse an order because he thinks it’s unconstitutional, he had better hope his chain of command agrees with him, and failing that, a court. Looks like he gambled and lost.

      • Peter Houlihan says:

        Did they kick him out for declaring his intent not to follow a particular order which the USMC considers lawful, or did they kick him out for declaring his intent not to follow an order in general, without regard to whether it was lawful or unlawful.

  12. wellokaythen says:

    There’s a difference between disagreeing with one’s orders and publicly calling one’s commander a liar. That to me is the key difference here.

    I actually want military personnel to refuse to obey orders that are illegitimate orders or that violate a humane code of conduct. Maybe this is hard for people to imagine, but for example: a Marine SHOULD refuse to obey an order to torture someone. The military justice system can also hold you accountable for following an order that you know violates certain rules and you do it anyway. We don’t let other people get away with “I was only following orders,” so that ought to apply to American personnel as well.

    In this case the guy doesn’t sound like he’s a victim of conscience.

    Besides, if military personnel are under no obligation to follow orders issued by liars, then there could be no military. Certainly no more civilian political oversight. Only follow orders from Presidents who don’t lie? There goes centuries of proud traditions….

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