The sergeant who called President Barack Obama an "enemy" on Facebook and was discharged on Wednesday for his comments has admitted that he would take back his words, or at least how he framed them.
Sgt. Gary Stein, a 26-year-old Marine, wrote in a highly critical blog post on the social networking site on March 1 that he would not follow Obama's orders.
"Obama is the economic enemy. He is the religious enemy ... He is the 'fundamentally change' America enemy … He IS the Domestic Enemy," Stain expressed. Those comments were soon taken down by the page's administrators, but not before an unidentified person made a screen shot of the post and forwarded it to Stein's Marine superiors.
Stein has tried to defend himself by saying that he was told he could express his views freely as long as he made it clear that those were his own personal opinions and not reflective of the Marine Corps of the Department of Defense, MSNBC reported. The sergeant had previously been warned of his criticism of the president on Facebook, and in 2010, he started an "Armed Forces Tea Party" page.
On Wednesday, however, Stein was told by the Corps that he will be given an "other-than-honorable" discharge for violating Pentagon policy limiting speech of service members, which means he will lose all military benefits.
In light of the discharge, Stein has admitted that he would have worded his statements on President Obama differently.
"People ask me, 'Would you go back and change those words?' I would most definitely," Stein shared with MSNBC. "I would articulate my point better."
"I think they're trying to use me as an example," Stein expressed previously. "Senior officers don't want to hear, 'You were the person who let this Gary Stein situation get out of hand. I think there might have been peer pressure among the senior enlisted."
The Marine explained that he believes his post should have been protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, which protects free speech, but he admitted he would caution other service members when publicly posting controversial opinions.
"I'm not telling them to zip it up or shut up; be conscious of what you post," he said, and urged the Marine Corps to come out with clearer rules on what is permissible to post on social networking sites and what is not.
"If he was in front of me right now, I would salute him, say, 'Yes, Mr. President, No, Mr. President,' and when I walked away, I would still disagree with his policies. But those are two separate things," Stein explained.