While on a business trip to Washington DC to, among other things, visit the Arlington National Cemetary a woman named Lindsey Stone took a picture of herself doing this near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and posted it to Facebook:
Not surprisingly, Stone’s photo prompted no small amount of outrage and has now resulted in her employer canning her and a co-worker who helped take the picture:
Lindsey Stone, the Plymouth, Massachusetts woman who posted a photo of herself giving the middle finger in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, creating a firestorm of Internet backlash and outrage, was fired from her job Wednesday. …
The photo, which has been taken down, was first posted last month on Stone’s personal Facebook page, and showed Stone giving the middle finger while pretending to yell next to a sign that read “Silence and Respect” at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National Cemetery.
Some, like Robert Johnson writing at Business Insider, don’t think Stone should have been fired noting that this sort of freedom of expression is part of what American soldiers fight to defend:
Stone was at the cemetery on an office trip. She’s pretending to be neither silent or respectful next to a sign that demands she be both. As in, “Look it says I can’t. But I am.” I get it. I remember standing on the wall of a deep gorge in high school that had the words Do Not Stand here painted on it. I took a picture of my shoe beside them. These are silly, immature, little rebellions.
More importantly, if Lindsey Stone wants to rip on the Tomb of the Unknowns, me, my service, or the hundreds of mutilated troops I served with at Walter Reed Medical Center, she should be able to do so without fear of retribution. Freedom like that is what we fought for, and respecting other opinions is part of what the military tried to teach all of us who served.
There’s a lot of truth in that.
Others have stated that we go too far in our “unequivocal, unhesitating adulation” of the military. That’s true too.
But what Lindsey Stone did wasn’t some reasoned critique of the military. She behaved herself like a jackhole at a national monument dedicated to the solemn remembrance of the sacrifices our military has made.
And nobody was trying to silence Stone’s “speech.” There is no law against what she did. She wasn’t arrested, nor was her getting canned the result of government pressure. She was fired for boorish behavior on a trip paid for by her employer on which she was tasked with acting as a representative for her employer.
Lindsey Stone is free to behave like a jackass, even at Arlington Cemetary. But her employer is also free to downsize the number of jackasses they have working for them.
Free speech is an important context, especially in the context of unpopular speech. And blind adulation of our military is no virtue. But let’s not allow those issues to obfuscate what Stone was: A victim of her own stupidity.