Posted on Mar 25, 2015
COL Charles Williams
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On various social media sites (RP included) I see a lot, of what I consider, inappropriate comments about our president, other elected/appointed officials, and even potential candidates. I fully understand inappropriate is a matter of opinion. I did not vote for our president, nor am I a fan, but I do respect the office he holds. I also respect the positions of the rest of the elected officials who are front and center.

I am interested in your thoughts on what is in play, and what is not, and do you think things change when you retire? We are all entitled to free speech, but where does that end, and where have we crossed the line?

I am a retired Officer, and still believe I should abide by the same rules I was mandated to on active duty; but, I could be way off base.

This is what I know:

1. It is pretty clear for Officers: Art 88 of UCMJ (Contempt Toward Officials) specifically prohibits: Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

2. It is less clear for NCOs/Soldiers; Gray would be correct too. They are governed by ART 134 (The General Article) perhaps under (Disloyal statements (U.C.M.J. Article 134)) or (Indecent language (U.C.M.J. Article 134)).

3. And, I believe we should always treat everyone the way we want to be treated.

These are some references:

UCMJ:

http://www.ucmj.us/sub-chapter-10-punitive-articles/888-article-88-contempt-toward-officials

http://militaryadvocate.com/punitive-ucmj-articles/
FREE SPEECH IN THE MILITARY: http://nlgmltf.org/leaflets/GI_Rights_free_speech.html

Social media misuse punishable under UCMJ: http://www.army.mil/article/73367/

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SGM Brigade Operations (S3) Sergeant Major
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COL Charles Williams

Sir - I agree with you. I have worked for five Commanders in Chiefs and honestly I can say that I disagreed with a lot of things all of them did. Below is my take

Active duty/Guard/Reserve - You need to respect the Chain of Command and those mentioned above are the top of the chain. Regardless of what your personal feelings are you took an oath to "obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me".

Retired/Veteran - Thank you for your service! Personally, I think that you should conduct yourself in the same manner as those above but, you are a private citizen and the UCMJ does not apply. You have the full protection of the 1st Amendment and it is your right to exercise it.

RallyPoint - I do not think it is a good idea for anyone on this site to comment with disparaging or disrespectful/demeaning words about the POTUS. Everyone has their own beliefs and a good heated debate is great, when it gets out of hand it is unprofessional, regardless of your military status.

Good post sir!
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LCDR Rabbah Rona Matlow
LCDR Rabbah Rona Matlow
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I have to agree with everything you've said here, Top...

I will admit to being very critical about all of our politicians, but I don't think I've crossed a line.

COL Charles Williams Col, I presume you tagged me for my myriad posts. When I was on Active Duty, I followed the rules and was not outspoken.

Now that I am a retiree, and also have several other hats that I wear (100% disabled veteran, rabbi, chaplain, veteran's advocate, pastoral counselor, DAV service officer, etc.) these issues are very personal to me.

I am not currently able to work, due to military injuries, thus I am very z/jealous about protecting my compensation and benefits. This President has had the DOD personnel under the gun his entire time in office, and I consider this a complete breach of trust and failure of leadership on his part.

You may have noted that I am also outspoken about GOP politicians as well. I am an equal opportunity hawker. I see my role as rabbi, to carry forward the messages of the Prophets in the Hebrew Bible. Not by way of preaching or proselytizing, but by way of bringing out the ethical messages they taught.

We are failing as a country, hence my question about whether morals and values still matter. While I understand that change can be bottom up driven as well as top down driven, I feel very strongly that the bulk of the issues lie within the beltway...

V/R, Rabbi Jaron Matlow, LCDR USN Ret.
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COL Charles Williams
COL Charles Williams
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Thanks LCDR Rabbah Rona Matlow ! I appreciate your comments. I tag various top contributors, in effort to generate ideas, discussions, and various opinions. Thanks for your service.
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LCDR Rabbah Rona Matlow
LCDR Rabbah Rona Matlow
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You too, Col. Williams...
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MAJ Contracting Officer
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Some Caveats on legal matters, National Guardsmen are not subject to the UCMJ while in an inactive or state status only title 10 Soldiers. NG follow their state's version of (insert state CMJ) For the most part they are identical. Reservists are not subject to UCMJ unless they are in an active or drilling state. So thankfully I can say whatever I want to about our leaders and have it fall right in under my first amendment rights, that said it is very poor taste, particularly as my Avatar is ASU's.

And prosecution of reservists is almost impossible as USARC does not have court martial convening authority, so commander's must request permission from an active duty installation to process UCMJ, you can't even issue more than a summary article 15 due to the Soldier's right to request a court martial which USAR can't facilitate. (Sucks when you are in command and can't prosecute your active duty Soldier for being AWOL)
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SMSgt Dr. G. A. Thomas
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We have freedom of speech however our speech must be tempered, respectful, and thoughtful. We must remember that we are speaking about other people and not inanimate objects. Our speech should be seasoned with salt.

We should have possible solutions and not just belly aching.
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SFC Platoon Sergeant
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SPC Joshua H. I just felt I had to point out that the UCMJ articles that COL Charles Williams points out in the OP are not laws passed by congress. The UCMJ articles do not take away your freedoms; they assign consequences. Even service members are allowed to say anything they want to say, but it may have consequences. Same applies in the civilian world. Just because you as a veteran have freedom of speech does not mean you can walk into your civilian job and start cussing at your boss without getting fired. The freedoms that we as Americans have do not give us get out of jail free cards to do whatever you want to do.
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SPC Joshua H.
SPC Joshua H.
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SFC (Join to see) you might be surprised how much I agree with you, there can be consequences, but I do not agree with government censorship, I believe in personal responsibility. If there is something on TV I don't like, I turn the channel and watch something I do like. If there is a book I don't like, I don't read it. I don't sit here and ask for more laws and regulations. I don't ask for said program to be banned, or a mass burning of a book. I respect choices and freedom. If you unwisely exercise that freedom at the wrong time/place, yes, you could get fired from your job. You might get arrested for inciting a riot, and if that is what happens, you should be willing to take responsibility for your own actions, and not blame others or the .gov.
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SFC Platoon Sergeant
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It doesn't suprise me because i agree with what you stated as well. I think a little less control over things that the masses may like but an idividual doesn't is needed. if i like violent TV shows and dirty comics and whatever taste i have in music that is my business. The only way that i do lean a little toward government censorship as you put it would be in regards to those of us that work for the government. They get to censor the things i do because it affects the employment.
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SPC Joshua H.
SPC Joshua H.
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Correct, and as with any employer you have to watch your Ps&Qs. Wiith your current employer have to be a little more careful and not publicly use your position and uniform to declare your disdain for the .gov...but ever notice how they won't stop you from speaking out in favor of them? :)
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CPT Zachary Brooks
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Sir,

I feel it is without our right to criticize opinions or actions taken by an elected official as long as we show them the respect their position deserves. I feel negatively about nearly every elected position and official we have in this country, but that does not make me want to ignore legal orders or insult them directly.

When a direct insult through a mocking nickname or an insult of the position appears, it is wildly inappropriate and unprofessional, no matter how you feel about the individual.
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