Politically Active on Facebook: A Tea Partying Marine’s Story

To the politically active and bound by military contract – beware of your activism. While your activities are protected by the law, the Defense Department draws the line when pushed too hard. Want to be an outspoken member of the Green Party, Democratic Party or even the Tea Party? Feeling Libertarian today? Have at it. Feel strongly about Muslim issues? Go for it. But if you imply Defense Department endorsement, they may come after you.

The activities of one Marine made it to the attention of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, or so we read in an internal Marine memo. Marine Corps Sgt. Gary Stein is a Tea Partier, the ad hoc politically “inspired” group that has come to recent prominence.

Stein hails from Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton, in the middle of that conservative hotbed, Southern California. According to what we read, he has been invited to speak on national television; he has been interviewed by the print media.

According to the Corps’ document, the problem came when Stein’s Facebook page implied Marine Corps endorsement of his political views.

Fair enough. We went to Stein’s Facebook brainchild, Armed Forces Tea Party Patriots which has 7,704 members as of this writing. We saw no overt or implied claims of military endorsement. Because of the red light from the Marine Corps, Stein apparently took down his site but the battle flag was quickly taken up by another partier. Stein maintains he voluntarily took down the original Facebook page because it became something he had not intended. (Was he referring to the large number of cringe-worthy postings?) Stein lives through regular comments on the ‘new” site, including those concerning his wife’s medical condition. (Weird.)

The Corps’ involvement has raised questions within the small fringe group. There are members who are fervent supporters of military rules and leaders. These Armed Forces Tea Party Patriots seem an odd mix better left untouched. But since we’ve burdened you with this information, let your curiosity kick in.

You often have to sign up on Facebook to read this stuff. It is shocking what people will post on Facebook, including the personal information available. The Corps’ intervention may have highlighted this fringe group, but the sight is not a pretty one.

DoD Directive 1344.10 covers political activities.

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