Daily Archives: May 27, 2015

Sorry, But Orders Are Orders

Guess what? Todd Starnes is lying and talking about things he doesn’t understand again. He’s got a strange fascination with the military and its regulations, especially when it comes to defending  annoying Christians in uniform. Today’s Todd is about another Christian kook in the Marines who found herself court-martialed and kicked out with a bad conduct discharge because she can’t take orders. Starnes says she was booted for being a Christian; the real story is that she refused to listen to the direct orders of her superiors multiple times.

Refusing to follow orders is very serious. It undermines the discipline of a unit. You can get away with a lot of shit in the service but you don’t buck your superiors when they give you a direct order. I suppose that goes double for the Marine Corps-a much more rigid, disciplined group than my Army. Had Starnes comprehended and understood the offenses described in his own link to the court transcripts, he’d have nothing to write about. But being outraged is his bread and butter, so he made it about freedom of religion.

You can be involuntarily court-martialed for grievous violations of the UCMJ, but most infractions can be dealt with in an Article 15 hearing. It’s likely that this PVT Sterling had a choice between that and a court-martial. Article 15 procedures can also result in reductions in rank, a pay cut, and confinement to barracks for a period of time. She got all those things in the court-martial, and also got herself kicked out. That last part probably wouldn’t have occurred had she kept it in-house. She made the choice to go in front of a judge. Worse yet, she chose to represent herself in the court-martial, thinking that she had good reason to disobey the orders of most of her NCO support chain and command. The judges weren’t interested.

Why was she so recalcitrant? What is the basis for Starnes’ assertion that she was fired because of her religious beliefs? She sounds like a pain in the ass that needed to be removed. She had little to no military discipline. Her first infraction was posting religious phrases all over a desk she shared with another Marine. The notes said things like “no weapon formed against me shall prosper”. The SSG interpreted this as provocative language, a demonstration of defiance. Real fruit loop shit. The judges concurred that this is not a religious act protected by RFRA. She was told to take the notes down. She refused. That’s her first strike. The SSG then took the signs down at end of business. She put them up again. Once more she disobeyed the order to take them down. I have no idea why she wasn’t Artie 15’ed at this point.

Two months later, she was on profile for a hip injury. This means that she is exempt from certain duties or formalities to a degree. Her “chit” suggested that she wear her camo because a more dressed uniform would be difficult to wear. Her SSG was told that Friday’s uniform would be “charlies”, which I guess is the equivalent of my Class B dress. Consequently, she was told to change. She refused because she thought her chit gave her a pass to not dress in that uniform.  Here’s the important thing; this profile was not tantamount to “orders”. It was a suggestion. The SSG checked with medical and was told that yes, the Marine could wear something other than her camo. Even when confronted with this information Sterling wouldn’t budge. Eventually, PVT Sterling was ordered to do duty giving out passes to drivers at the gate of the post by her fucking 1SG. She refused, producing another profile that excused her from things like guard duty. She had done this duty before. But she thought that her chit covered that. Nope. She earned herself a trip on the carpet with the MAJ of the unit who ordered her to do the mission. Again, she refused to comply. So, she’s basically pissed off everyone in her chain.

Given these offenses, I am not surprised that she was sent to Fort Living Room. But leave it to Starnes to suggest that she was a target due to her religiosity. As I have demonstrated in a previous post by him, he has no military insight, so he misapprehends the facts in the case. No NCO or officer would allow this degree of insubordination to occur-it gives the rest of the unit the impression that they too can go up against their superiors without consequence. PVT Sterling was insolent (and indolent) to an unacceptable degree, and that is what got her removed. It had nothing to do with her right to express her faith. Neither Starnes nor PVT Sterling have a basis to support the claim that her charges were trumped up because she is a Christian.

Who cares what she is? If she was Muslim, Jewish or Hindu she would have landed in a world of shit too. This whole persecution act by Christians is such bullshit. Nobody wants to hear about your gods or your outlandish beliefs. It is happening to Christians a lot because A) They are the majority faith in this country and B) their predilection for projecting that faith is unprofessional and irritating to those who don’t subscribe to it. I know plenty of places in the civilian world where religious displays are not welcome at one’s workstation. The military is, unsurprisingly, no different.

You have a bazillion churches to uplift your lords and gods. Go there and be weird.

CORRECTION: Marines call punishment under Article 15 “NJP”, or “ninja-punch”.

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