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!

  • Kathleen Grace

    Freedom of expression doesn’t mean people won’t respond. Sure, she has that freedom and now she has to pay the consequences. As far as her job, she was on company trip with members of the organization she works for. It was a co-worker who took the photo. I don’t much care what they do, but as their representative, her actions reflected directly on them, they have the right to act against her in whatever way is appropriate.

  • Rob S

    What right was taken? In this country only two people can restrict the liberty of a citizen – a judge and a military commander (limited to members of his/her command).

    No judge issued a warrant for her arrest. No judge imposed a monetary fine. No judge imposed restrictions on her travel. By definition none of her rights have been abridged.

    Pointing out to someones employer that the actions of one of their employees reflects badly on them is not a restriction of rights. Employers make decisions on employee actions every day. Almost every employment contract on the planet has a clause allowing for termination due to actions that reflect badly on the employer. If you don’t want to work somewhere that cares about their image you don’t have to.

    Her actions were destructive to civil society and civil discourse. Civil society is expressing its displeasure but it is not in any way restricting her rights.

  • Craig Dickson

    True, but there is a difference between (1) the employer making their own decision and (2) thousands of people who have nothing to do with the organization demanding that she be fired. I agree that she behaved in a very stupid and obnoxious manner and was even more stupid to document it and post the evidence online. I just think there are more important things for people get upset about in the world today. People love to be distracted by minor incidents and blow them out of proportion. That’s stupid too.

  • joker669

    I agree who cares what she did, why not pass petitions to clean up the streets I Li e in a place where almost everything is gang related, do you think there’s people making pages on FB tellibg them to stop or just be good Haha I don’t think so so why don’t you all worry about the important things, not some persons pic, because before this no one knew her, what if she did good in her line if work dis any one make a page dir her good deeds?? I haven’t seen one on FB or any news media.

  • Craig Dickson

    Bear in mind that Arlington is not just the resting place of those who died in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam. There are graves there that date all the way back to the Civil War. If you’re going to dismiss the soldiers who fought in the two World Wars as just a bunch of “dead murderers”, I must disagree.

  • MrFloppy

    Who cares about the military? It’s not like they protect the people. Maybe in the usa they’re are seen as heros, but not outside that country.

  • Rob S

    You display a an incredible ignorance of the military in general and the US military in particular.

    The military is no more hierarchical than any large business. Businesses have managers, we have commanders. Good commanders, like good managers, give their people guidance – what we call commanders intent – and then let them execute as they see fit. If you spent enough time with the US military, you would find that we not only foster free thinking we punish those who fail to do so. Feel free to stick with your misconceptions based on everything except fact.

    Not only can any citizen criticize the army, government and police, I am sworn to defend their ability to do so with my life. And contrary to popular belief, burning a flag is protected free speach and has been since 1969 (Street v. New York, 394 U.S. 576). But again, dont let facts get in your way.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    +1 exactly.

  • joker

    We didn’t know she was on the job till people found out where she worked, and were told to fire her then her job took it upon them self to tell the people it was a work related trip. Again who cares what she does get a life people

  • Alexander Petricca

    This is what happens if you act without thinking eh.

  • Rob S

    So its ok if no one finds out? When an employee is a jerk to you do you hope the manager witnessed the act or do you make a complaint?

    Whats more disturbing to me is that the employer probably knew about her bad acts from the very second they happened and yet took no action until the community expressed their displeasure. She was on a company activity. LOTS of coworkers knew about this. NONE spoke up. We have a saying in the military – when you walk past a deficiency you set a new standard.

  • Craig Dickson

    I think part of the problem here is that many people focus on the present and are only vaguely aware of the past. It’s one thing to disagree with recent American military actions (the invasions of Iraq and Afghanstan, for example), but Arlington is the burial site of thousands who died in WW2, WW1, and all the way back to the Civil War. To disrespect this cemetery is to disrespect all of those soldiers, not just the ones fighting today in wars you may well not support. Was it really this woman’s intention to offend against the memory of those who died fighting against Hitler? Probably not. More likely she’s just such an idiot that she can only think of the present.

  • Rob S

    Funny when someone does something really good – like save a life or rescue a dog – when they are “off duty” businesses trumpet that. No one says “WTF they were not a work.”

    Live by the stupid, die by the stupid.

  • osh_sektabrand

    wtf. it has NOTHING to do with military. there are people buried there and they mean something to someone.

    and not gonna even comment on “…do whatever she pleases, shes an american…”

  • Rob S

    Ah see, a point of view expressed that I absolutely disagree with and yet I love that we can openly express and openly disagree in a productive and respectful way.

    As President Bill Clinton said “We can disagree without being disagreeable.”

  • Mark LePard

    Freedom of expression means you can’t be prosecuted for expressing your ideology, religion, etc.. Was she prosecuted? NO! The 1st amendment does not mean people can not, or should not suffer consequences for exhibiting poor character. That’s what she did, and LIFE is certainly within it’s rights to fire her if they so choose. Character traits used to mean something in this country. Honor, respect, & integrity should be revered, and if you don’t like it, then you’ll whine about it, saying they’re being, “Shoved down my throat.”

  • Rob S

    So because someone made an offensive remark at some point in time its ok for others to do the same? Isnt the whole point of this the imposition of community (as opposed to legal) standards?

    Both the racist remark and this action offend the community but neither fails to be protected speech.

  • blobclark

    60 years ago , that USA freed you from nazi tyranny and saved France from the Germans yet AGAIN. How grateful you all are.

  • blobclark

    My dad is buried here . I find this woman and her actions VERY disrespectful. Should I come and vomit on the grave of her relatives? It would be very similar to what she is doing.

  • blobclark

    She has every right to go off the property of Arlington and make a fake sign for her actions NOT at the Arlington cemetery AND further, the actual regulations of the cemetery state such. She and others are merely visitors to what is not a national park but a military base where bodies of the dead are interred. Respect for the dead is a universal axiom , especially the venerable military dead of a nation who have made the ultimate sacrifice so she may flip the bird but at another location NOT in violation of rules and regs.

  • Dave

    Beside all the PC comments here, no one has mentioned what a lousy sense of humor this girl has. Is this all you can come up with to make your friends laugh? She is probably queen of the booger jokes too.

  • blobclark

    Actually she broke several military regulations and as a visitor to Arlington cemetery which is a base not a park, she is subject to not only following the signs but search and seizure of her property. Had she been seen by the guards , she would have been escorted from the property and may well have been issued a ticket for summons to federal court before a magistrate as any visitor can be for such offenses as speeding on base.

  • Kathleen Grace

    Many people seem to be failing to recognize one thing, that freedom of speech as stated in the 1st and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, is the right to express information, ideas, and opinions free of government restrictions based on content. It protects from governments arresting people or censoring them for what they say. It does not give carte blanche to say whatever you want without repercussions. It simply protects you from getting arrested. It doesn’t protect you either from an angry mob of people who are incensed by what you say. People angered by her posting also have the right to express that anger. And they can demand she be fired for the disrespect she so blatantly expressed on her personal page. She said it herself, that she was being herself, and people have the right to be angered. Freedom of speech will keep her out of jail and will stop the government from censoring her words, but it will not protect her from consequences for her actions. Her company has every right to suspend her and even fire her if they deem it appropriate. And we can support her or condemn her, that’s our right. But what she did was disrespectful. That sign is posted there to show visitors how to behave, she not only disregarded it, she spit in its face. If it were a public building, she’d be escorted out, if it was a church, people would be angered. It is a place of remembrance and she disrespected the code of conduct.

  • gringo_locodc

    So it makes me wonder who’s her Facebook “friend” who saw this picture and either started the group or leaked the picture? Or did a non-friend see a mutual friend comment on the picture via that horrible privacy-destroying newsfeed ticker on the side?

  • slvrscoobie

    What happened to JUSTICE for all. Not just the internet lynch mobs. Yes, she may have been acting like a Boob, but 1 photo does not a lifetime make. The internet cant just be a lynch mod willing to take down anyone who happens offend someone. She hasnt broken the law, lets leave it at that.

  • Kathleen Grace

    Well, she’s been suspended, not fired. And she was on a company trip with co-workers, it was one of them who took the picture. As a representative of her organization they have the right to take action for her behavior because it reflects on them. Sadly, it has everything to do with her job, she’s lost credibility and given the company undesirable attention. And as well, the patients at the facility can be impacted. Her actions reflect on the non-profit organization and any bad publicity can hurt them. Once it was released why she was there and who took the picture, her goose was cooked.

  • Tim

    When did America become such a land of babies?

  • Craig Dickson

    No, it’s not “ok if no one finds out”. It’s just that there are far more important things going on in the world today than one idiot making an ass of herself. I question the sense of proportion of anyone who thinks her behavior is so important that they should sign a petition demanding she be fired, while at the same time they do nothing about many more important issues. (We may or may not agree which issues are the most important, but surely this is not one of them?)

  • Jr Miller

    How about holding each other to a minimum standard of public behaviour? Our social manners get worse by the year with people confusing personal freedom with public responsibility. She got precisely what she deserved.

  • Benicio Murray

    Did I just open up a web page from 2001?

  • Swade

    You have a very skewed view of rights apparently. People certainly are allowed to lash back at her and get her fired. You represent a company and your actions outside of the company effect your employment. It also depends on the state. In Colorado, you can get fired for any reason. Why do you think companies get all-access accounts on Facebook so that can look at employees and potential employees?

  • Ken Akiva Shapero

    well said

  • JosephRT

    Exactly, well put.

  • Lt. Bob Sinclair

    Thousands of dead murderers? wow…

  • miki

    all of us pissed on a grave of someone or some animal….

  • kimi

    I have nothing but disrespect for anything regarding the military. war is murder, nothing else. Soldiers are murderers.

  • Rob S

    There will always be something more important. Should that stop you from acting on a bad act?

    When I was in Afghanistan it was hard to go to work knowing all the things working against success, including in some cases my own peers. But I couldn’t change everything. All I could do is my very best in my little area. Overall training of the Afghan Army might fail but my little part was going to succeed.

    Its no different with just about any other cause or activity. I feel strongly about ending the killing of whales, maintaining commercial free open spaces and defending copyright/intellectual property. All of those things could fall in the “not as important” category and yet I keep trying in my limited way toward winning those fights.

    Would I sign a petition to request she were fired? Probably not. I expect employers to do the right thing without needing 17K people to point it out to them. Would I have stopped her and detained her until the MPs could come and escort her off post? Absolutely.

    If we all failed to act because “something” else was more important, we would never progress as a society.

  • Fred Nerks

    She is paying a price for her thoughtless and tacky photo. She is already suspended from her job and may even lose it. She will also be known everywhere for a while and will probably be hated. I believe she has learned a lesson and now it’s time to forgive her and move on. There is already too much hatred in the world. We’ve all made our share of mistakes and we wouldn’t like to be hated for them.

  • Samuel

    How did this go “Viral” if someone sent me it i wouldn’t even reply.

  • politelady

    serves her right to get fired…too disrespectful…should not be tolerated…

  • Brent Schmidt

    As a current serving Army soldier…. I really don’t care. Freedom of speech and all that good stuff, whatever. She isn’t affecting me at all personally, sooooo ehhhhhh….

  • rtfe

    douchebags get to be treated like douchebags because of their douchebaggery.

  • Raffy Parcon

    Geez. All the hatred for one douchebag. Yet always not enough clamor to end gender inequality, poverty, and ignorance.

  • fred

    I don’t think the point of this is “that a single photographic misstep on the Internet has the potential to turn your life upside-down”. What she posted was not a ‘photographic misstep’, which implies that she is somehow a better person than was portrayed in the photo and she just made a ‘mistake’. The photo accurately portrays her real character and she deserves to be fired. I certainly would not hire someone like this–and I don’t think anyone else would either. She will, of course, get a part in a TV reality show–they are always looking for douchbags. The more tasteless, self-centered, and thoughtless the better. It’s a shame so many millions had to die so she could live in this country. She might enjoy living in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia or Egypt. They really love women who mock Mohammed.

  • Dean W. Thompson

    You’re right right. I was to quick to pull the “free speech card” in a slight defence for her. No one is stopping her or trying to censer her for saying od doing that.

  • Michael Spotts

    Point-counterpoint—I agree her actions were disgraceful. I have two sisters in the service, and I believe our country would be gone without its military. However, we see here that social media is a two-edged sword. Friends see your life, and so does everyone else. I’m sure my beliefs on faith, government, marriage, etc., are offensive to someone. Or a lot of someones.

    The day might come when refusing to say, “The President is the Highest Authority,” to the exclusion of God, or anything else, gets a person jailed or killed. That’s how it went in Rome and Russia, at the cost of many millions. It may come here, too. No land is immune to authoritarianism.

    Christians were not thrown to lions for honoring Jesus. They were killed for honoring him above all. Jews in Germany were not rounded up for having radical beliefs, but for being different in a highly networked and vindictive society. Free thinkers in Russia were sent to the gulag, not for having political thoughts, but for thinking outside of the Party lines. Treasure your freedom to post what you like, but be prepared to accept the consequences, good or bad.

  • Yeeowww

    It’s called freedom of speech folks. People who focus on minutia like this and have nothing better to do need to get a life.

  • Sergio45

    I am equally grateful that the families of the once was Hiroshima.

  • Sergio45

    I guess you have been there in Guantanamo too.

  • val escobar

    My point is, her job should never of been brought in to question. I for one would not of been part of the crowd screaming, “crucify crucify” at Jesus’ trial. Because he went against the status que. I see by many comments, why he was….