Another storm over First Amendment rights is brewing and this one is a doozie. Earlier this week, The Inquisitr told you about Lindsey Stone, the 30 year old woman in danger of losing her job over a photo she posted on Facebook. Just hours after initially suspending Ms. Stone, her employer, Living Independently Forever (LIFE), fired Stone along with the friend who took the photograph, Jamie Schuh.
The offending image depicted Lindsey sitting next to a sign that reads” Silence and Respect.” Stone appears to be shouting, while she gives the middle finger to the camera. The photo was taken near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery and the storm of rage over the appearance of the image on Facebook is almost frightening.
LIFE posted a statement about the firings on the company’s Facebook page:
“We wish to announce that the two employees recently involved in the Arlington Cemetery incident are no longer employees of LIFE. Again, we deeply regret any disrespect to members of the military and their families. The incident and publicity has been very upsetting to the learning disabled population we serve. To protect our residents, any comments, however well-intentioned, will be deleted. We appreciate your concern and understanding as we focus on the care of our community.”
As might be expected, the usual conservative suspects are up in arms and calls have gone out for more Federal laws to punish people for disrespectful or unpatriotic behavior. Congress passed The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 in August as a response to complaints about the Westboro Baptist Church. The bill contains a provision to limit protests at military funerals and if violated, protesters may be punished by criminal or civil action.
Naturally, First Amendment advocates are horrified. The photograph was taken privately and published on Stone’s personal Facebook page. She was not engaged in a protest or any civil disobedience at the time nor did she actually violate any existing law. Supporters of the two women question the right of an employer to fire someone for private behavior, no matter how juvenile, or for posting on Facebook, a website that prides itself on supporting free speech.
We decided to give the final word to Aaron O’Connel, a Marine officer and instructor at the Naval Academy, who spoke on the issue in an Op-ed in the New York Times. He expressed his dismay over the lack of critical thinking and the rabid militarism displayed by the Congress, four fifths of whom have never served in the military.
“Like all institutions, the military works to enhance its public image, but this is just one element of militarization. Most of the political discourse on military matters comes from civilians, who are more vocal about “supporting our troops” than the troops themselves. It doesn’t help that there are fewer veterans in Congress today than at any previous point since World War II. Those who have served are less likely to offer unvarnished praise for the military, for it, like all institutions, has its own frustrations and failings. But for non-veterans — including about four-fifths of all members of Congress — there is only unequivocal, unhesitating adulation. The political costs of anything else are just too high.”
“Uncritical support of all things martial is quickly becoming the new normal for our youth. Hardly any of my students at the Naval Academy remember a time when their nation wasn’t at war. Almost all think it ordinary to hear of drone strikes in Yemen or Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. The recent revelation of counterterrorism bases in Africa elicits no surprise in them, nor do the military ceremonies that are now regular features at sporting events. That which is left unexamined eventually becomes invisible, and as a result, few Americans today are giving sufficient consideration to the full range of violent activities the government undertakes in their names.”