In A Manner Of Speaking…Flag-Burning, Free Speech And The Uniform

If you remember last week’s LSU flag-burning episode, you’ll remember the scene on video in which a soldier was in Benjamin Haas’ face before the latter gave an ill-fated statement about why he wanted to burn the American flag on the university’s Parade Grounds.

(Specifically, see around 1:23 in the video)…

The soldier in the video’s name is Private First Class Seth Froom, he is a National Guardsman whose parent command is allegedly the Military Police unit in Carville, LA, and he could be in some serious trouble.

Why should we rehash the video from over a week ago? Well it is important for us to remember that our First Amendment rights (which protect us from the government, not society) are fought for and secured by men and women whose rights to speak freely are restricted. See, the United States Military are bound to a different set of rules than the rest of us here in the civilian world. Sure, they are held accountable by the same laws we are, but they are also held responsible under a different standard, and live by rules and regulations set forth in what is known as the Uniform Code of Military Justice, UCMJ. A violation of the Articles which govern the military can be punishable by a sort of internal measure, and even what most are aware of as a Court Martial.

PFC Froom is entitled to his opinion, however, according to the UCMJ, he is not authorized to express his opinion in uniform, nor as a representative of the United States Military. Bottom line is, this guy could be looking at some serious punishment, and rightfully so. Look, I’m not taking issue with the feelings he felt. What I do have issue with is the way he conducted himself, in uniform. There is a sense of Honor, Courage, and Commitment that comes with the wearing of the uniform, and there is moreover a sense of responsibility, discipline, and tact associated with the wearing of the uniform.

PFC Froom was wrong in the way he acted, and many veterans are outraged. Froom was in direct violation of the UCMJ that day, and must be held accountable. Had I acted as he did while I was in the military, my rank would have been knocked down a peg, and I would have forfeited some pay, maybe even restricted to base, and or quarters for a period of time. There is no excuse for the actions of PFC Froom, whatsoever. Although, I do not harp on his sentiment; I feel his pain, I really do, I still know that there is a reason why we have the world’s finest military, and it is because of discipline. PFC Froom should have used some, and either stayed away from the protest altogether, or at least not gone in uniform wherein his actions could have been construed as representative of the military. Carry yourself with dignity in that uniform, because men and women have died in it. Don’t let your emotion tarnish the brand behind which you stand, and under no circumstances allow your mouth to write a check your butt can’t cash, in a manner of speaking…

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