Woman Disrespects Military in Facebook Photo, Has Life Turned Upside-Down

It’s a story that’s becoming more and more common: someone uploads tactless photos to the Internet, the Internet disapproves and collectively pounces on the person. It happened after Hurricane Sandy when a Brazilian model decided to do a photo shoot amidst the devastation, and it has happened again. The target of the Internet’s fury this time is a woman named Lindsey Stone, who posted the above photograph to her Facebook page.

Stone shot the photo with her friend Jamie Schuh while visiting Arlington National Cemetery last month. The image was meant to be rebellious, with Stone doing exactly what the sign said not to do (shouting and disrespect versus silence and respect). Then she made the mistake of uploading the image to her personal Facebook page.

After the photo received a number of negative comments, Stone explained her actions with the following comment, saying that she was just being the douchebag that she is, that the photo represented “challenging authority in general,” and that she didn’t intend any disrespect of the military:

The apology was too late, and the cat was already out of the bag.

From that point, a new Facebook page popped up calling for Stone to be fired from her job at a learning disability non-profit named LIFE — a page that has since attracted over 16,000 Likes.

The story went viral across major websites as well, with Wizbang, Fark, and Gizmodo reporting on the story before it spread to national media.

LIFE quickly released a statement apologizing for Stone’s actions and saying that she has been placed on unpaid leave:

On Nov. 19 at approximately 6 p.m., we became aware that one of our employees had posted an offensive, inappropriate photograph on her personal Facebook page. The photo was taken at a national historic site in October by a fellow employee during a trip to Washington, D.C. attended by 40 residents and eight staff. The photo has since been removed from Facebook, and both employees have been placed on unpaid leave pending the results of an internal investigation.

This photograph in no way reflects the opinions or values of the LIFE organization, which holds our nation’s veterans in the highest regard. We are proud to have veterans serving on our staff and board of trustees, and we value their service. The men and women who have selflessly fought and sacrificed their lives to protect the rights and lives of Americans deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. We are acutely aware that this photo has done a disservice to veterans and we are deeply saddened that it was taken and shared in a public medium.

Stone herself wrote an apology that was published today by the Boston Herald:

We sincerely apologize for all the pain we have caused by posting the picture we took in Washington DC on Facebook. While posted on a public forum, the picture was intended only for our own amusement. We never meant any disrespect to any of the people nationwide who have served this country and defended our freedom so valiantly. It was meant merely as a visual pun, intending to depict the exact opposite of what the sign said, and had absolutely nothing to do with the location it was taken or the people represented there. We never meant to cause any harm or disrespect to anyone, particularly our men and women in uniform. We realize it was in incredibly poor taste, and are deeply sorry for the offense we have caused.

We also sincerely apologize to LIFE, Inc. It is an amazing organization that provides invaluable services to adults with learning and developmental disabilities. We are beyond remorseful that our actions have caused them such undue public scrutiny. The disrespect implied by our picture has nothing at all to do with LIFE’s mission statement or values. We regret having caused any suffering to the staff members, residents, families and friends.

Again, we very sincerely apologize to everyone who took offense to the photo. We realize that it was an ignorant and distateful thing for us to do, but we truly meant no harm. We are deeply sorry.

Stone has since nuked her Facebook page. Her father is also speaking out on national media:

The story is yet another stark reminder that personal Facebook pages can be a lot less private than you’d like, and that a single photographic misstep on the Internet has the potential to turn your life upside-down.

(via Gizmodo)

Thanks for sending in the tip, Mark!

  • Dean W. Thompson

    Douchebags have the right to be as douchy and ignorent as they please. Isn’t that what our solders are fighting for?

  • Dallas Photoworks

    The face of Liberalism.

  • val escobar

    So much for freedom of expression. people are too….something. Getting upset over a personal photo on her personal FB page. If there had been a funeral going on, like what that so called christian church does. I would see a problem.
    I am #3 of a four generation military service family. We served to protect this woman’s right. Did like it if you must, but to try and get her fired is the same kinda crap America just voted against. Your values being shoved down my throat.

  • Joseph McKee

    Freedom of speech… say what you want but be ready to accept the ramifications of what you say!

  • Chris Popely

    Makes you wonder if it’s worth fighting for at all. Heh.

  • ilo photo

    “We meant no disrespect” when we disrespected a “respect” sign in a place demanding ultimate respect. Suuurrrreeee.

  • Joey Duncan

    People need to get over themselves, the photo is offensive but there are WAY worse things out there that people could waste their time rallying about. This person performed freedom of speech, she deserves nothing more than people yelling back at her, anything more than that is taking away her rights, whether you agree with what she did or not. The people who created and supported that FB page trying to get her fired are in the wrong. I also realize that the FB page itself is freedom of speech, but they are attempting to take action against somebodies right, making the ladder point moot.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    freedom of expression is one thing – acting like a complete tool is another. People need to be called out on their bulls**t otherwise they’ll just be stuck in their ignorant bubbles not caring about what their actions mean to others.

    Same for that girl who spewed her fowl, racist mouth over Tumblr about some customers that she had in the store where she worked – Tumblr users found out the exact place she worked and sent letters of complaint and got her fired – and rightly so.

    like I said – people need to be called out on their s**t otherwise attitudes and mindsets just won’t change.

  • JJ

    Facebook (or internet) privacy doesn’t exist anymore, and people don’t really care, but over 17,000 likes on a hate page and being suspended, is that not a bit extreme? Most people probably know she was against the sign and not trying to cause disrespect to the war veterans. but the internet has spoken.

  • Craig Dickson

    She has every right to be the tasteless, vulgar moron she obviously is, but equally, everyone else has the right to slam her for it — they also have the right to free speech, do they not? But demanding that she be fired from her job is going too far, considering that her actions at Arlington had nothing at all to do with her work.

  • lidocaineus

    Please explain what this means, as what you posted is pretty much devoid of any reason, facts, or opinions backed up by logical thought. Might as well have said “the face of republican extremists” or “the face of “communism” or “the face of terrorism” or “the face of happy times”.

  • Tobert55

    americans… they can turn into a mob instantly.
    and the media is laughing….. cheap headlines for the ever hungy blogsphere.

  • Greg Schmidt

    I’m not PC. PC is for computers. For libs, it’s do what I say, not what I do.

  • Tobert55

    google what liberalism means and then come back and explain what you mean with your sentence.

  • Tobert55

    if all the morons who hate her would put their effort in making american war crimes public…. or signing a petition to make the world a better place.

  • Sergio45

    meanwhile in usa… Seriously, U.S. military haven´t earned much respect for most of the inhabitants of the planet. Their actions in the last 50 years are not to be very proud of them. Of course in the U.S. you do not get some kind of news, as you don´t feel certain bombs falling over your heads.
    The harassment that is suffering this girl, is somewhat insane.
    I understood that in a democratic country one can show respect for an institution, or publicly display their aversion. But that is a democratic country, not a country where ultranationalist sectors seem to dominate large populations, mass media, and power.
    This kind of public scorn, reminds me most infectious of the twentieth century fascism.
    Greetings from Europe.

  • Offended UK

    Quite sad that so many people get offended by proxy. And how many people get offended because they think they should, there is always a good bandwagon to jump on.

  • Tobert55


  • Mansgame

    Freedom of expression only seems to work if that expression is a popular act – ie. someone bashes a minority view point. Otherwise, the online lynch mob will be out in force.

  • steve

    It will be a real shame if people can’t have a bit of fun in this world anymore. Perhaps all the people that have hounded this woman should get the same treatment? Or we could all just have a sense of humour and see the funny side of things, instead of taking everything literally.

  • Kevin Flowers

    I’m sympathetic to her, I really am, but people seem to be confused about this whole “freedom of expression” thing.

    Since when does “freedom of expression” mean “totally exempt from any responsibility for your actions?” I’m free to express myself, the rest of the country is free to respond to my self-expression. In this case she made a big mistake, upset a lot of people, and paid strict consequences for her actions, but no one forced her to do this.

  • ufff

    amercians can make jokes about dead and humiliated “camel jokeys” but this… a disgrace…..

  • Joey Duncan

    Sergio, although, YOUR opinion of the US military may not be great, it doesn’t mean that the people in it, which is what this location is about, are bad. The people who serve our country deserved to be honored, because regardless of the retarded crap we pull in other countries, they still would be there to protect our soil, and regardless if you acknowledge it, other soil as well.

    That being said, I agree with the rest of what you say.

  • Ryan Quinn

    I don’t care who you are or what you look like. This was certainly uncalled for. In my youth, I did stupid things as well. I look back at them and am disgusted and ashamed. She isn’t sixteen, however. She is a grown young (I use the term loosely) lady who obviously wasn’t thinking. In this day and age, YOU represent where you work. If she is working for LIFE and acting so disrespectfully about those who have passed, then the proper judgement should be taken. If they decide to keep her, it could very well reflect on their company. I was told when I got my job “Be careful, because even when you are off the clock you still represent us as people you see off the clock, could just as easily come into our store and see you.” It’s all about respect. Give it to get it. She doesn’t understand the meaning.

  • Jack Hernandez

    As much as loathe the action. Exercising her right to freedom of speech as a douche-bag didn’t warrant her losing her job which has nothing to do with her actions. I think the fascist mofos who petitioned her to get fired should face a bit of judgement themselves.

  • Joey Duncan

    I’m sure she didn’t, I’m sure she saw that sign, and didn’t think about where she was and just did it, with no reference to her surrounding. that being said, too much of this goes on. Acting before thinking.

  • Joey Duncan

    agreed, I mentioned that above, the people hating on her are wasted effort.

  • bob cooley

    File this under: you reap what you sow…

    She scorned those who gave their live for their country, and she was widely scorned for it.

    This isn’t an issue of free speech (she absolutely has that) – its a case of common sense and personal responsibility. If you are going to have this type of ‘fun’ and post it to the largest public space on the planet, you open yourself up to criticism of your ‘humor’.

    While she may not have thought of the implications of taking the photo (in regards to the setting), she had plenty of time to think about the ramifications of posting it to a massively popular social media site.

    Its fine to defend freedom of expression, but one still should consider tact, courtesy and common sense.

  • caltek

    The photo was taken while she was there with a her work – letter from the employer “The photo was taken at a national historic site in October by a fellow
    employee during a trip to Washington, D.C. attended by 40 residents and
    eight staff.”

  • Bryan Philippi

    Well. That escalated quickly.
    I think people are overreacting horribly. It was distasteful, it was ignorant, she understands that and apologized. I think that should be enough.

  • bob cooley

    There is a large divide between disrespecting policy (the government) and disrespecting those individuals who have given their lives in the service of their country. Soldiers aren’t policy-makers, and those who have given everything for their country should be treated with more respect, regardless of the policy-makers.

  • caltek

    nicely said

  • Happy_Tinfoil_Cat

    That pixelization had me confused for quite a while, I just realized she was flipping a bird. I’m so glad my sensitive eyes were protected from that vile gesture.

  • Tim

    Yes. You go write to Obama now and tell him to stop sending American troops to war, then you’d not have this kind of problem in the first place. Really. One dopey woman, “oh no, fire her!”, but thousands of dead murderers are to be revered? Get a sense of perspective.

  • bob cooley

    In this remark, you are making the false assumption that all Americans are racist.

    I’ll not accuse you of reverse-racism, but you should know that the vast majority of Americans do not tolerate racism in any form. Racists are very much the minority, so kindly don’t paint an entire nation with an ignorant comment to try to make your point.

  • Ivor Wilson

    Kneejerk much?

  • derekdj

    This is dumb on many levels, first her statement about challenging authority has nothing to do with the blatant disrespect for our dead service men and women. If you want to challenge authority then go occupy Congress. Second, she’s dumb enough to post to Facebook without any privacy settings, thus inviting the public’s venting of outrage. I’ve seen many comments about youthful indiscretion, but she’s not a teenager, she is an adult and works in a care facility. It just shows a lack of respect and common sense.

    The funny thing is people are criticizing the attacks as an attack on the freedom of expression, on the contrary. This woman was free to post to her Facebook page without any privacy settings and the public was free to express their anger.

  • Sergio45

    Critical to an institution, not just individuals. If someone does not agree with the decisions that the leadership of an institution takes, the best thing to do is not belong to it, if what you want is not complicit or participating in the global impression that this institution offers.
    Agree that generalizing is never successful, but if you belong to a hierarchical institution, where free thought is taboo. You can not ask for individual treatment discrimination when poured criticism.

    Luckily for me, in my country I can openly criticize the functions of the army, the government, the police, the monarchy and religion and if I burn a flag of my country nobody threatening my freedom to do so. Nobody would give importance, has not it. This type of actions are relevant only in sick minds.

  • Antonio Carrasco

    oh STFU, this has nothing to do with Obama or Bush or any other politician

  • Antonio Carrasco

    Another case of “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something”

  • Matt

    Wow, really? LIbs? You should really turn off FOX news and the rightwing talk radio, they are making a lot of money off of your ignorance and bigotry.

  • NoneSuch

    That’s pretty much what crossed the line of my sympathies as a person who strongly values personal liberty. People are fired from their jobs for getting a DUI. ‘Moral turpitude is a legal concept in the United States that refers to “conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals.”‘

  • Craig Dickson

    Thanks, I missed that detail. So she was on the job at the time. Her employer has every right to fire her, but the big petition is still a bit much. I can think of more important things to protest in the world at the moment.

  • Rob S

    As a soldier I am dedicated to protecting her right to express herself. As a person I understand actions have consequences.

    Protecting her right to free speech ends at restriction of liberty. Should she be tossed in jail for what she did? No. Should she suffer consequences for stupid acts? Yes.

    Every day we all wake up and make choices. Am I going to be a productive member of society who conducts themselves in a respectful manner or am I going to be a jerk? Am I going to do honest work that is positive or am I going to lie/cheat/steal?

    She made a choice and now she has to live with that choice.

    Look at her own motivations – “challenging authority.” We have a thing called “Rule of Law.” Its what sets us apart from the failed societies all over the planet. Rule of law is what fosters civil society. She wasn’t challenging something unjust, unfair or unethical. She just wanted to challenge society and therefore damage he fabric of civil society. Guess what, society is responding to her challenge. It’s important that society, not the government, is the one punishing her. She broke no law but she violated community standards and the community is expressing their dislike.

  • osh_sektabrand

    She got what she deserved. Here’s an example – I really dislike church as institution. I do show my thoughts and laugh at some points and some people. But that does not mean, that I will go and piss on some grave – this is a grave of a person, it means something to others and nothing has to do with religion – is there a cross or not. Just dumb breaking of the rules or showing your thoughts in ..emmmm… stupid way is not freedom of expression, but idiocy. The woman in the picture is an idiot and got what she deserved.

  • Rob S

    You might be on to something if this were a form of political expression in opposition to war. But it wasn’t. And its not the Presidents fault. And last I checked the current President was in the business of ending wars.

  • Kathleen Grace

    Being tasteless and vulgar on the job is not her right. She was a representative for the organization who pays her salary, and her actions reflected directly on them. It had everything to do with her work. And while you have the right to free speech you don’t seem to know what that means. Freedom of speech is the political right to speak your opinions and ideas. It’s about the government regulating what a person says, not being an ass at a national historic site and inflaming the public when you post online. Freedom of speech in a legal sense, however, does not protect every single word ever uttered or written by individuals. The First Amendment primarily guarantees that the government itself would not infringe on the right of a “free press” to publish articles critical of the government. Citizens also had the right to “redress grievances,” which meant they could legally assemble in public areas and deliver speeches without fear of government reprisal.

  • Rob S

    You work somewhere.
    You represent your company in some form.
    You do something stupid in public.
    Your actions reflect badly on your employer.
    Your employer makes an economic choice on continuing your employment.

  • Kathleen Grace

    She was there on a trip for her job, she was a representative of the organization she worked. And, it was a co-worker who took the photos. She didn’t get the sack, yet, she’s on leave without pay. As a representative of an organization you are obligated to behave in a manner that reflects positively on the organization. She did not. It’s warranted. And that free country comment. Just exactly how do you think this country got free, hmm? Those graves she was disrespecting hold the bodies of the people who fought to gain that freedom.

  • Craig Dickson

    As I mentioned above in a reply to someone else, I missed the detail that she was actually working at the time. Yes, her employer has every right to fire her for behaving like that while on duty. But you go a bit too far when you assume that I don’t understand free speech just because I think it’s excessive for other people who have nothing to do with the organization to create and sign an online petition demanding that she be fired. There are other things going on in the world at the moment that are much more worthy of our attention.