Marine-Corps Nude Photo Scandal: Who’s to Blame
The press has been reporting for over a week on a matter they are calling a “Marine Corps Nude Photo Scandal,” but this is no scandal at all. Hundreds of Marines, other service members, and even civilians are being investigated for wrongdoing stemming from complaints that nude or provocative selfies of female Marines and service members have been posted on social media. This is not a scandal, and in most cases, the posting or commenting on these pictures is perfectly lawful.
Sharing Photos Online: Rarely Illegal
As a baseline, the pictures we are talking about are the ones reported on where females sent naked or racy photos to other service members or actually posted them online themselves voluntarily. We are not talking about cases like Erin Andrews, where images were captured unknowingly.
In the vast majority of situations, where you send a selfie or post it online without specific agreement about its private nature, there is no law that prevents the recipient from sharing that photo with others. There are some laws in a number of states that seek to prevent “revenge porn”, but those laws tend to prohibit distributing pictures that were agreed to be private, that involve some degree of blackmail, or are posted for the purpose of harassment. “Revenge porn” laws also face a number of First Amendment challenges.
Now, it appears the Marine Corps leadership is taking steps to institute policy to force Marines to be polite on social media.
Sexual Harassment In the Military vs. False Hysteria
Sexual harassment in the military is no laughing matter. Unwanted and uninvited commentary about female military members is a real detriment to the service. What constitutes harassment requires case-by-case analysis. However, it is outrageous that many Marines and service members are being treated like criminal sexual predators for conduct that is not explicitly unlawful in most states or under the UCMJ. In fact, it is unclear what specific violations of the UCMJ are even being alleged in this most recent “scandal”.
This situation represents yet another excuse for Congress and the press to perpetuate hysteria over a supposed sex scandal in the military. While questions of appropriate conduct and equal treatment of women are certainly important considerations, it is not appropriate to exaggerate the nature of the problem in order to draw attention to legitimate concerns. There are real victims of sexual assault and harassment who deserve the attention that is misguided in this scandal.
More importantly, how do these “scandals” keep happening, and who is out there to protect the integrity of the Marine Corps? The victim-advocate community is perpetually funded by activists with a personal agenda that lines the pockets of certain members of Congress. These Congressmen have the ability to negatively impact or end the careers of senior military officers. There are also media outlets that have gotten great ratings reporting on the military without investigating the real issues underlying the alleged problem. That then turns the attention and blame on young Marines and service members that don’t have advocates or money to protect them.
Let us be 100% clear, we are adamant supporters of the need to eradicate sexual harassment from the military. We strongly believe that women should be given the right to serve without unwanted or uninvited derogatory action because of their gender. The allegations that some of the comments on these websites encourages sexual violence are potentially serious crimes and certainly absolutely disgusting, if true. The focus of this article is to emphasize that when an individual specifically and voluntarily acts in a way to bring sexualized attention to themselves, it rarely amounts to sexual harassment when they actual receive sexualized attention.
We are a law firm with an extensive history of representing the individuals who make up the military. We have a proud track record of protecting those who are falsely accused, or those caught in the crossfire of hyper-aggressive criminal investigations. Hopefully, we can change the narrative to both encourage and promote respectful and productive interactions between men and women in the military, while also protecting innocent members from what occurs way too often, which is the malicious prosecution that takes place simply to satisfy political agendas through the constant eroding of military members’ Constitutional Rights.