Respect in the Military

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Respect in the Military

It has been said that military standards are higher than the country demands of its president. And that is true. President Clinton lied under oath. Perhaps that is not perjury, but an army officer could not do that. Nor could army personnel have extramarital affairs. Kelly Flynn found that out when she lost her position in the Air Force and years of pilot training went down the drain. But for the Commander in Chief, it is another story.

While it is true that the Commander in Chief is able to get away with misbehavior, military personnel have been warned not to criticize him. In fact, the various branches have been reminding troops that they can be prosecuted for publicly condemning the Commander in Chief and in fact there are cases pending on this very matter ( Komarow 04A). AT the same time, the Clinton-Lewinsky affair was the talk of the nation. Even school children have hinted that they knew something about the cigar story. Yet, the military is considered to be different. They are not allowed to discuss or tell Clinton jokes in public. In a way, that seems unfair and there is a debate as to whether or not they should be allowed to criticize the president. But that debate is only among civilians who do not understand military life.

What should be emphasized is that speaking ones mind is not an option in the military. When one joins, they do so voluntarily and give up first amendment rights. They know this when they join. Just as a police officer is on duty 24 hours a day and is expected to exhibit conduct in accordance with the badge, the military officer similarly gives up certain civilian privileges. And violation is more than just a slap on the wrist. Martha Raddatz reports that a violation can lead to a court martial under the Code of Military Justice, Article 88 (Stiegel and Raddatz PG). That law says "any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the president, vice president" -- and on down -- "shall be...
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