Posted on Mar 4, 2014
LTC Instructor
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This question seems to have a simple answer:
1. When in uniform, refrain from political speech. This is the standard.
2. Everyone on RallyPoint is representing him/herself as a Service-member.
3. So, there should be no "political speech" on RallyPoint.

What are the more nuanced views out there?

EDIT: Retired SMs and Veterans (no longer serving) are not covered under UCMJ and therefore fall under the full protection of the First Amendment; thanks to everyone for bringing this point to light.

Also, I think Reserve SMs cannot be held liable for political speech when they are not in a duty status, which is quite different from active duty SMs. The gray area of social media remains, in which we represent ourselves as SMs regardless of our contemporaneous duty status. Personally, I would never want my social media speech to be the subject of an Article 15, GOMR, or court-martial. My goal in this discussion is to get people to share views on how far the boundaries go.
Edited 5 y ago
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Responses: 29
1SG First Sergeant
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Absolutely there should be political discussion. The caveat is that it should always be respectful of the members of our CoC, which includes POTUS regardless of our sundry opinions of him. If you're representing the military, you should have the same professional deference for the CinC that you would have for your CO.
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LTC Instructor
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SFC Callan, I can agree with you, but this entire discussion turns on the definition of "political discussion."

SGT Mickles, DODD 1344.10 is not reserved to officers, but applies to all DOD SM's, active or Reserve. UCMJ provisions are specific chargeable offenses (crimes), DOD Directives are orders from SECDEF, and fall under UMCJ Article 92 (failure to obey an order or regulation).
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SGT(P) Motor Transport Operator
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MAJ Kile,

Thank you for pointing that out (again). I started reading it, especially the do's and dont's and am starting to develop more questions. Are you quite familiar and comfortable with it? If so, in the near future when I have more time to look it over, I think I will have a lot of specific questions. I often over-analyze things and would like to make sure I fully understand it. As you said, it hinges on the definition of political discussion (I've had a time or two that the definition of a single word impacted the way I understood something)
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LTC Instructor
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SGT M, I am not familiar with the Directive; I browsed through it quickly to find out exactly what was proscribed. The specific paragraph I discussed in another response (4.1.5. I think) is the "catch-all" provision, and charges SMs to respect the spirit of the Directive.

That "spirit" is not exactly coherent. Vehicles with an installation sticker and a uniformed driver and occupants can have a political bumper-sticker, but not a "sign" or "banner." Nor can active duty SMs have political yard signs (EDIT: "...in on-post housing" [special thanks to SSG Andres Redondo for catching this]). I think it's common knowledge that we are not allowed to attend political rallies or protests in uniform, or speak to the media on behalf of the DOD or our Services, but the DOD is not exactly "modern" when it comes to social media. Once the bureaucracy catches up, I imagine that political speech in any social media fora that labels the author as a SM (i.e. self-identification on RallyPoint or FB) will be banned.

In our civilian capacities we all have First Amendment rights, so on FB you can keep your service separate. RallyPoint is something altogether different; service is all but a prerequisite.
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SGT(P) Motor Transport Operator
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Maj Kile,

Ok, tracking. I keep getting hung up on little words and bouncing all over the place when it keeps saying sfuff like "subject to the restrictions of subparagraph 4.1.2.4" , which still doesn't clarify alot. I think I'm going to have to err on the side of caution, until I get a better grasp. Sorry my brothers and sisters, I'm going to have to shut up on this topic until I get it.
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1SG Steven Stankovich
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Political discussions are a slippery slope. What may start out as meaningful, insightful and thought-provoking, can very easily spiral downward into bashing, personal attacks and conduct unbecoming. Some folks are very passionate about their political views. Passionate posts can be received and interpreted many ways. Personally, I do not believe that this is the proper forum to discuss politics. Granted, I have chimed in from time to time on those type of discussions, but I try not make it a habit. Political discussions can bring out the worst in some people. And in this day in age, with the amount of media exposure Soldiers are getting for "stepping on it" on social media, I believe it is better to error on caution and pass on those political discussions.
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LTC Instructor
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Sage advice MSG. Thanks for sharing!
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SFC Platoon Sergeant
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MSG,

I think you make an excellent point. I was going to post an answer similar to yours. I do think that there are certain political topics that can be discussed without supporting or bashing any one individual/group/party. Despite this, it is very easy for the conversation to spiral out of control and turn into a political rant. From my viewpoint, we all represent ourselves as service members here on RallyPoint, so I think it is best to avoid the political discussions since it would be the same as having a political debate in uniform...
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COL Manager, Project Management Office
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MSG Stankovich,
Wise words. I avoid any overt political discussion here, especially if it revolves around currently hot issues. I suppose I might talk about the Alien & Sedition Acts... (But I see that the "cause of the civil war" got heated in a thread I browsed the other day.....)
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CPT Richard Riley
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Edited 5 y ago
I would hope that common sense prevails in this case. While no one can take away the right to have a personal opinion, we all must bear in mind that the word 'personal' is juxtaposed with opinion. You're entitled to that opinion. In a forum such as this or any forum that is connected (however loosely) back to DOD, standards and ethics apply to each service member. Sometimes I have to remember that just because I can does not mean that I should. Expressing a political opinion may not always accomplish what you intended but could create a worse situation for you in the long run. I would leave the 'politics' at the door & keep RallyPoint's purpose intact. RallyPoint's purpose states that it was created to help make military life better & connects its members to give them the best tools possible to succeed both while in the military, and beyond.
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