Uniformed Soldier Speaks a Ron Paul Event, Gets in Trouble, People Rage

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So what do you think about this?
Was the soldier right to act in such a manner?
Should he be punished?
Was Ron Paul responsible by calling him up in the first place?

Personally I find the corporal's actions in very poor judgment and has absolutely no excuse for this behavior. He probably deserves whatever he gets(most likely a hefty reprimand and a bad mark). Paul should have also known better than to have acted in such a way to endager the rest of this mans career. The regs are there for a reason and he knowingly defied it and Paul should have never invited him on stage.

To be honest in doubt this man has ha an exactly amazing caree regardless. This came to my attention when my Major mentioned that he is a ten year vet, ad a corporal. That is a ridiculously low rank for that amount of time. Most people in for that amount of time are usually closer to First Sergeant, three ranks higher if I recall correctly.

Shock and Awe:

So what do you think about this?
Was the soldier right to act in such a manner?
Should he be punished?
Was Ron Paul responsible by calling him up in the first place?

He should be punished.
No.
Yes.
Sort of. Ron Paul shouldn't have called him up, the soldier shouldn't have gone up. Ultimately, the blame rests with the soldier.

Shock and Awe:
snip

6 of one half a dozen of the other as to this. The cpl should (most likely did and knowingly broke them) have known about the regs and Paul's team shouldn't have been trying to pull a cheap political stunt like that. He broke regs though and yes should be punished for it.

Reasons for that: As an individual in civvies he can say whatever he wants, whenever he wants but when he's got uniform on he should be apolitical as the military should never be seen to be endorsing one candidate or another in an election.

When you're wearing the uniform, you represent whoever gave you the unifom. That's a universal truth. Anything you do while wearing that uniform will always be considered by others to be representative of the organisation.

So yes, this man should get punished for it (which will probably just be a reprimand and a mark on his record). And Ron Paul should be beaten over the head with this incident for the rest of the primary for just how stupid it was.

Maybe i'm wrong but I believe I've seen uniformed people talk at political rallies. Maybe they weren't active duty but still I think it's bullshit. I feel like if he had said economic policy instead of foreign policy he wouldn't be in trouble at all. While I understand bureaucrats aren't allowed to do things like this soldiers I feel should be held to a different standard because they may technically work for the government but how many of them see it like that? I feel like their is a difference, but that's just personal opinion.

We all know that he isn't representing the views of the military as a whole or the government, but the same could be said of bureaucrats and that i'm not so sure about.

dmase:
While I understand bureaucrats aren't allowed to do things like this soldiers I feel should be held to a different standard because they may technically work for the government but how many of them see it like that?

The entire idea between a uniformed military is the concept of putting people in a fold where they act less like people. It's about orders, things that need to get gone. The dehumanizing is done both to keep the command structure intact and to lessen the impact of the reality of warfare.

But in the same fashion, soldiers also act as representatives of the government when they are in uniform. And more than representatives even, they are armed enforcers of the will of the government; a force employed when the time of talking and debating is over, decisions have already been made, and will be enforced, by violence if need be. Thus, the presence of soldiers is the same as a sort of statement that this is the will of the state, in a setting which is undebatable.

Imagine that at a political rally, which is the polar opposite of that... It's clearly wrong.


For my country, this is further enhanced by the old Law on Militias (Wet op de Weerkorpsen) which forbids private citizens from uniforming themselves and carrying out tasks assigned to police, firefighters or the army as a part of a uniformed unit. This was to strip militias of their power and provide resistance against the national-socialist parties, which also maintained unarmed (firearms have always been forbidden) but uniformed militias.

As a logical consequence of this, it is forbidden to take part in political activities in uniform, or better said, in the role of enforcer and defender of the Kingdom Of The Netherlands.

And that makes sense. If I show up uniformed at a political rally, the implicit message would be "this political message is the undebatable will of the state, everyone must conform to it", and such would be a grave abuse of the uniform. You serve the state, not the other way around. I myself was opposed to the war in Afghanistan, I also think the peacekeeping effort is totally shit. Yet, I went there and did what I was supposed to do. Why? Because I voluntarily signed a contact that basically said loyalty in exchange for money. Obviously one can't take the money and not show the loyalty. To a great extent, joining the armed forces curbs your rights as a citizen, and this is okay because it is a voluntary choice.

Now I'm not quite clear on my rulebook anymore, but I think the punishment for it involved some serious jailtime, and possibility of stripping of ranks, wages, and even getting sacked.

Do people think its really a good idea in a democracy for UNIFORMED soldiers to speak up on partisan issues? That's really not condusive to the process. Soldiers serve the government, they shouldn't be seen as the ones installing governments and picking who should win, unless of course you like the way politics is done in many 3rd world military dictatorships.

Blablahb:
snipped

While I understand I don't completely agree. In a stable democracy, like the US, there is no fear of a soldier actually representing the government in an authoritarian way. In principle thats how it seems in practice its different.

Maybe It's just my American upbringing but I see soldiers with more of a face then a government official. They take orders but have their own individuality that should be expressed because unlike a government official 4/5 th's should have to least accept the possible consequence of getting shot. In reality it's more like 1/10000 th.

Yes it's obviously against military regulations that this guy did this and he should get punished but whether it's a fair rule i'm not sure. Like I said it's probably because of a biasis because of my upbringing but I can't shake the feeling that they are people expressing their opinion that should be expressed when they have the platform.

Like you said though the military culture itself is far more invasive and controlling then a simple bureaucrat so it should be expected.

ravensheart18:
Do people think its really a good idea in a democracy for UNIFORMED soldiers to speak up on partisan issues? That's really not condusive to the process. Soldiers serve the government, they shouldn't be seen as the ones installing governments and picking who should win, unless of course you like the way politics is done in many 3rd world military dictatorships.

You phrase it like the guy had a gun pointed at the audience. He was expressing a right. Whether he had that right because he is serving a government should be in question.

dmase:
He was expressing a right. Whether he had that right because he is serving a government should be in question.

It's not the 'serving a government' that's the issue. It's that he did it while in full military uniform and iterated - more than once - that he was actively serving. In that respect, he was therefore not in a 'serving the government' capacity but a 'representing the military' one.

And the military as an organisation should be impartial towards politics. Why? Because whoever wins, they're the CiC.

Amnestic:

dmase:
He was expressing a right. Whether he had that right because he is serving a government should be in question.

It's not the 'serving a government' that's the issue. It's that he did it while in full military uniform and iterated - more than once - that he was actively serving. In that respect, he was therefore not in a 'serving the government' capacity but a 'representing the military' one.

And the military as an organisation should be impartial towards politics. Why? Because whoever wins, they're the CiC.

That wasn't his intention and was meant to mean something for the ron paul campaign. Ron Paul is the only real low low military involvement conservative candidate and it's been his downfall in conservative circles. So the guy was trying to say not wanting a large military isn't the same as being against the troops which ron paul gets slammed with a lot.

dmase:
That wasn't his intention and was meant to mean something for the ron paul campaign. Ron Paul is the only real low low military involvement conservative candidate and it's been his downfall in conservative circles. So the guy was trying to say not wanting a large military isn't the same as being against the troops which ron paul gets slammed with a lot.

It doesn't matter. It's a soldier's job to know the regs. I place the blame squarely, 100% on the soldier in this one. If he doesn't know what his uniform represents, why should we expect a civilian to know?

dmase:

Amnestic:

dmase:
He was expressing a right. Whether he had that right because he is serving a government should be in question.

It's not the 'serving a government' that's the issue. It's that he did it while in full military uniform and iterated - more than once - that he was actively serving. In that respect, he was therefore not in a 'serving the government' capacity but a 'representing the military' one.

And the military as an organisation should be impartial towards politics. Why? Because whoever wins, they're the CiC.

That wasn't his intention and was meant to mean something for the ron paul campaign. Ron Paul is the only real low low military involvement conservative candidate and it's been his downfall in conservative circles. So the guy was trying to say not wanting a large military isn't the same as being against the troops which ron paul gets slammed with a lot.

The Soldier was still misrepresenting himself as being a representative of the views of the US military. He identified himself as a soldier, which meant that anyone who watched that is going to be thinking of him as a soldier first and foremost, which means they're going to be associating his views with those of the military. Of course that's not what he intended, but that still doesn't change the fact that that's the reason why these regulations exist in the first place and he just blatantly disobeyed them.

Don't you just love it when those that fight for our freedom are seemingly denied that very freedom? Ah, the system at its finest, Talos 2012.

dmase:
You phrase it like the guy had a gun pointed at the audience. He was expressing a right. Whether he had that right because he is serving a government should be in question.

He is certainly quite capable while not in uniform and acting as a private citizen. But assuming that we decide to allow it: How many? How many soldiers in military regalia would you allow to hang out at a rally and support a political candidate? Fifty guys in their fatigues? How about fifty marines in dress uniform with swords on their belts? At what specific point do you think a "message" is being sent?

With this rule in place there is no such question. It is a simple, reasonable, and straight forward answer to the issue. That one guy may not have caused any real problem all by himself and so it kinda sucks that he's going to get in trouble but its a matter of maintaining a strict standard to completely remove the possibility of abuse.

Katatori-kun:

dmase:
That wasn't his intention and was meant to mean something for the ron paul campaign. Ron Paul is the only real low low military involvement conservative candidate and it's been his downfall in conservative circles. So the guy was trying to say not wanting a large military isn't the same as being against the troops which ron paul gets slammed with a lot.

It doesn't matter. It's a soldier's job to know the regs. I place the blame squarely, 100% on the soldier in this one. If he doesn't know what his uniform represents, why should we expect a civilian to know?

I'm questioning the regs not whether or not he knew about them.

TheStatutoryApe:

dmase:
You phrase it like the guy had a gun pointed at the audience. He was expressing a right. Whether he had that right because he is serving a government should be in question.

He is certainly quite capable while not in uniform and acting as a private citizen. But assuming that we decide to allow it: How many? How many soldiers in military regalia would you allow to hang out at a rally and support a political candidate? Fifty guys in their fatigues? How about fifty marines in dress uniform with swords on their belts? At what specific point do you think a "message" is being sent?

With this rule in place there is no such question. It is a simple, reasonable, and straight forward answer to the issue. That one guy may not have caused any real problem all by himself and so it kinda sucks that he's going to get in trouble but its a matter of maintaining a strict standard to completely remove the possibility of abuse.

unless weapons are present and it's expressly stated that the military supports a candidate how can it go that far?

Shaoken:
snipped

Every soldier is identified as a soldier whether they are wearing the fatigues or not. This happens in all public platforms.

I've never really understood why there are restrictions like this against people of the armed services, even when they're wearing uniform.

You'd let a child up in their uniform to speak their opinion, so why can't a grown adult?

dmase:

ravensheart18:
Do people think its really a good idea in a democracy for UNIFORMED soldiers to speak up on partisan issues? That's really not condusive to the process. Soldiers serve the government, they shouldn't be seen as the ones installing governments and picking who should win, unless of course you like the way politics is done in many 3rd world military dictatorships.

You phrase it like the guy had a gun pointed at the audience. He was expressing a right. Whether he had that right because he is serving a government should be in question.

He had the right to be there, but not in uniform. In uniform he is presenting himself as an agent of the armed forces. He doesn't have to point a gun, in fact if you look at countries like North Korea they didn't actively point guns at political events, but they were there in an obvious way.

Esotera:
I've never really understood why there are restrictions like this against people of the armed services, even when they're wearing uniform.

You'd let a child up in their uniform to speak their opinion, so why can't a grown adult?

Completely not the same thing. When you're wearing a military uniform in public, every action you take represents the government. It's not like it's some obscure regulation, it's as basic as which direction you point the barrel of a weapon. While a Corporal isn't exactly a very high rank, there's absolutely no excuse for not knowing what he did wasn't allowed at that level.

Esotera:
I've never really understood why there are restrictions like this against people of the armed services, even when they're wearing uniform.

What do you mean "even when"? The restriction is specifically about them wearing their uniform at inappropriate times, as defined by the government.

You'd let a child up in their uniform to speak their opinion, so why can't a grown adult?

And, just what 'uniform' would a child wear to "speak their opinion"?

I'll bet which ever organization that 'uniform' represents would have regulations, similar to those governing the military's uniforms, as to when and where it's permissible to be worn.

dmase:

Katatori-kun:

dmase:
That wasn't his intention and was meant to mean something for the ron paul campaign. Ron Paul is the only real low low military involvement conservative candidate and it's been his downfall in conservative circles. So the guy was trying to say not wanting a large military isn't the same as being against the troops which ron paul gets slammed with a lot.

It doesn't matter. It's a soldier's job to know the regs. I place the blame squarely, 100% on the soldier in this one. If he doesn't know what his uniform represents, why should we expect a civilian to know?

I'm questioning the regs not whether or not he knew about them.

Well, unfortunately for him, regs are regs. These are not unlawful regulations. All he would have had to do is take off his uniform and not portray himself as representing the military and he could express any opinion he wants. So he has absolutely no ground to stand on. He was wrong.

chaosyoshimage:
Don't you just love it when those that fight for our freedom are seemingly denied that very freedom? Ah, the system at its finest, Talos 2012.

Oh, quit with the hysterical hyperbole. Soldiers have total political freedom as long as they are operating in their civilian role. The only time they need to watch themselves is when they are wearing the uniform. This is no different from many other jobs. If I'm a police officer and I wear my uniform to a rally, you can bet I'll catch heat for it. Hell, I bet just wearing a McDonald's uniform to a rally could catch you some heat if you got up and gave a speech.

kingpocky:

Esotera:
I've never really understood why there are restrictions like this against people of the armed services, even when they're wearing uniform.

You'd let a child up in their uniform to speak their opinion, so why can't a grown adult?

Completely not the same thing. When you're wearing a military uniform in public, every action you take represents the government. It's not like it's some obscure regulation, it's as basic as which direction you point the barrel of a weapon. While a Corporal isn't exactly a very high rank, there's absolutely no excuse for not knowing what he did wasn't allowed at that level.

Does this apply to other branches of the government, like firefighters or police officers? I understand that it's in place, but personally don't think what clothes someone is wearing makes much of a difference on their opinion.

madwarper:

Esotera:
I've never really understood why there are restrictions like this against people of the armed services, even when they're wearing uniform.

What do you mean "even when"? The restriction is specifically about them wearing their uniform at inappropriate times, as defined by the government.

You'd let a child up in their uniform to speak their opinion, so why can't a grown adult?

And, just what 'uniform' would a child wear to "speak their opinion"?

I'll bet which ever organization that 'uniform' represents would have regulations, similar to those governing the military's uniforms, as to when and where it's permissible to be worn.

Well I was fairly sure there were other restrictions against what soldiers could do politically, at least in the UK. By a child's uniform I meant a school uniform. I understand that the restrictions are in place, but don't see why they should be there.

A soldier whether they are wearing a uniform or not, are part of the auspice of the state. Their purpose is to serve the government of the day rather than to interfere with the running of, let alone the selection of, the government. This is where the difference between the state and the government becomes important. The state is like the ship upon which we all are sailing together. The government (be it a dictator, an oligarchy or a democracy)is the captain of the ship, and their decisions guide the state and influence the lives of all those on the ship. As a servant of the state, rather than a member of government your role is to execute the ultimate power of the state as the government sees fit. Thus if you are biased in a democracy to helping a particular political party as a servant of the state then you are undermining your role and the role of your colleagues in a conflict of interest. People can hate the government, and if they choose that they want to change so its pretty easy to do so in a democratic society (theoretically), however the military, as a servant of the state is not elected, their powers are derived purely from the states monopoly on controlled violence, thus a uniformed military member involving themselves in a political rally compromises both the rally itself as well as the military. I'm not saying public servants should not partake in political debate or vote, but doing so in ones official capacity undermines the system itself.

Esotera:
I've never really understood why there are restrictions like this against people of the armed services, even when they're wearing uniform.

Because countries have learned the hard way to keep their armed forces out of political affairs in any shape or form, no compromises.

Or more pragmatic concerns. In the years when there was still conscription, there was a spatial limit on where you could go when going out in the weekend. The marechaussee (military police) patrolled the edge of that zone (meaning, being found drinking in the bar closest to the edge of the allowed zone) and more or less prevented soldiers from crossing it. Sceptics note this must have been because even people that were drunk off their feet needed to be able to return to the barracks, and picking up drunk conscripts from all over the countryside would be too much work.

I myself was cleared form hand to hand training, because my fighting sports experience trumped whatever they were going to learn there. Still, I couldn't leave the academy or do anything else. Basically I didn't need to train, but I had to train. Obviously this is because they can't have recruits wandering off to who knows where during the middle of a working day. In the end I layed my hands on some ammunition and had some shooting practise, but for the most part it was boring sitting around, because the reason behind the rules apply to everyone, even if I could've been back in time for the next part of the program with ease.
Again: don't like it? Shouldn't have signed the contract.

Rules like that have always been around, and the uniformed Paulite knew of this when he went to a rally to try and endorse his prophet as an agent of the United States instead of as a private citizen. And with all the attempts by various republicans to hijack sentiments of nationalism for their own agenda, it's only right that soldier is punished to the largest possible extent.

And as for Ron Paul, he shamelessly abused that guy, while he knew he'd cause him to get in trouble. Shame on him.

Esotera:

kingpocky:

Esotera:
I've never really understood why there are restrictions like this against people of the armed services, even when they're wearing uniform.

You'd let a child up in their uniform to speak their opinion, so why can't a grown adult?

Completely not the same thing. When you're wearing a military uniform in public, every action you take represents the government. It's not like it's some obscure regulation, it's as basic as which direction you point the barrel of a weapon. While a Corporal isn't exactly a very high rank, there's absolutely no excuse for not knowing what he did wasn't allowed at that level.

Does this apply to other branches of the government, like firefighters or police officers? I understand that it's in place, but personally don't think what clothes someone is wearing makes much of a difference on their opinion.

I don't know for sure about police and firefighters, but I know someone who works in Americorps (a federal government program that helps with public service and education) who says that she has the same rules about wearing her uniform at a political rally.

This is a more interesting case than it appears many are willing to admit. Yes, there are good reasons for the regulations. But in this case, the underlying reason for the regulations could not possibly justify punishment of this corporal. Does any reasonable person take seriously the idea that this man's views were the same as the views of the entire military? Aside from for the sake of argument, of course. The arguments that this soldier should be punished are essentially doctrinaire, and the justification of that rigid adherence to dogma takes the form of a slippery slope argument. We are left with the position that this soldier should be made an example to halt any further, and more obviously problematic instances of uniformed endorsement. Where does it end, we might ask. Or in other words, social expediency takes precedence over natural justice. And we're used to treating soldiers like that.

As a former soldier myself, I am abhorred by his breech of military regulations. He should not have gone on stage without removing his military uniform and anything that might identify him as serving in the military. He is a representative of an institution and he should take that into account. To go against military regulations and, even worse, on television for such a silly reason as helping a candidate is just inexcusable.

I don't personally believe that the military should be apolitical or that it's members should stay away from politics while in uniform, even if they are representing such an institution, but what I, or any other serviceman, think doesn't matter. Regulations are set up and must be obeyed to the letter, because that is what keeps us disciplined, effective and because they keep the faith of the public in us. Stepping out of line is where problems start.

But I've digressed. The soldier was wrong for disobeying the regulations governing the times when his uniform may be worn. He should be punished in the manner befitting his crime, and the candidate should feel ashamed for getting someone to willfully disobey military regulations, if he coerced the person to come on stage with a uniform.

Seanchaidh:
This is a more interesting case than it appears many are willing to admit. Yes, there are good reasons for the regulations. But in this case, the underlying reason for the regulations could not possibly justify punishment of this corporal. Does any reasonable person take seriously the idea that this man's views were the same as the views of the entire military? Aside from for the sake of argument, of course. The arguments that this soldier should be punished are essentially doctrinaire, and the justification of that rigid adherence to dogma takes the form of a slippery slope argument. We are left with the position that this soldier should be made an example to halt any further, and more obviously problematic instances of uniformed endorsement. Where does it end, we might ask. Or in other words, social expediency takes precedence over natural justice. And we're used to treating soldiers like that.

I would have to disagree with you on this point. This gentlemen holds the rank of corporal, this is important for two reasons. First off its a very low rank for someone who's been in for 10 years. This gives evidence to the thought that this is not his first time in trouble. Secondly he is a NCO, this means he is a leader of other soldiers. His blatant violation of regulations sends a message of "if I dont follow regs why should you?" it sews the seeds of insubordination and can ruin a whole squad.

chaosyoshimage:
Don't you just love it when those that fight for our freedom are seemingly denied that very freedom? Ah, the system at its finest, Talos 2012.

They have to give up their freedom to do that effectively. An army, even of a democracy, is far from democratic, it just wouldn't work.

Shock and Awe:

Seanchaidh:
This is a more interesting case than it appears many are willing to admit. Yes, there are good reasons for the regulations. But in this case, the underlying reason for the regulations could not possibly justify punishment of this corporal. Does any reasonable person take seriously the idea that this man's views were the same as the views of the entire military? Aside from for the sake of argument, of course. The arguments that this soldier should be punished are essentially doctrinaire, and the justification of that rigid adherence to dogma takes the form of a slippery slope argument. We are left with the position that this soldier should be made an example to halt any further, and more obviously problematic instances of uniformed endorsement. Where does it end, we might ask. Or in other words, social expediency takes precedence over natural justice. And we're used to treating soldiers like that.

I would have to disagree with you on this point. This gentlemen holds the rank of corporal, this is important for two reasons. First off its a very low rank for someone who's been in for 10 years. This gives evidence to the thought that this is not his first time in trouble. Secondly he is a NCO, this means he is a leader of other soldiers. His blatant violation of regulations sends a message of "if I dont follow regs why should you?" it sews the seeds of insubordination and can ruin a whole squad.

There are other justifications for the rigid adherence to doctrine, that being one of them. None of them that I can think of are about justice, but rather utility and expediency. Like I said, we're quite used to treating soldiers like that.

Seanchaidh:

Shock and Awe:

Seanchaidh:
This is a more interesting case than it appears many are willing to admit. Yes, there are good reasons for the regulations. But in this case, the underlying reason for the regulations could not possibly justify punishment of this corporal. Does any reasonable person take seriously the idea that this man's views were the same as the views of the entire military? Aside from for the sake of argument, of course. The arguments that this soldier should be punished are essentially doctrinaire, and the justification of that rigid adherence to dogma takes the form of a slippery slope argument. We are left with the position that this soldier should be made an example to halt any further, and more obviously problematic instances of uniformed endorsement. Where does it end, we might ask. Or in other words, social expediency takes precedence over natural justice. And we're used to treating soldiers like that.

I would have to disagree with you on this point. This gentlemen holds the rank of corporal, this is important for two reasons. First off its a very low rank for someone who's been in for 10 years. This gives evidence to the thought that this is not his first time in trouble. Secondly he is a NCO, this means he is a leader of other soldiers. His blatant violation of regulations sends a message of "if I dont follow regs why should you?" it sews the seeds of insubordination and can ruin a whole squad.

There are other justifications for the rigid adherence to doctrine, that being one of them. None of them that I can think of are about justice, but rather utility and expediency. Like I said, we're quite used to treating soldiers like that.

Well the idea behind this specific reg is the ideal of civilian government. When you have service members at political functions it does not have to even seem like an official endorsement, but on a big picture scale, it would make it appearant to the public which candidate the military supports informally by simply counting uniforms at their rallies. This stresses the ideal of the military being totally controlled by civilian government.

chaosyoshimage:
Don't you just love it when those that fight for our freedom are seemingly denied that very freedom? Ah, the system at its finest, Talos 2012.

I didn't realize my freedom was in any real danger.

But seriously, the freedom to wear a military uniform? Oh how horrible for an organization to punish people for wearing their uniforms to political rallies! How oppressed they are!

Of course he should be punished. The army is very clear on its regulations about speaking publicly about politics while in uniform. If he had been off-duty and speaking only on behalf of himself, it may have been allowed, but you represent the army when wearing the uniform.

I think it's important to hold the military to the highest levels of discipline, and part of that discipline is accepting the punishment for breaking regulations. I have no sympathy for him, and he should have known better.

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