(UPDATED) Lindsey Stone defends her controversial Tomb of the Unknown Soldier photo

Photograph posted on WBZ-TV website - an edited version of the controversial photograph.
WBZ-TV

A Facebook page that was created late last night demands a Plymouth woman be fired for posting a photograph of herself flipping the middle finger and pretending to scream in front of a “Silence and Respect” sign at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

Plymouth resident Lindsey Stone was visiting the Tomb last month on a business trip with another co-worker when she made the gestures. The photograph was posted on her Facebook page.

“Fire Lindsey Stone” had nearly 5,800 “likes” on Facebook this afternoon. The page’s creator, who said he was a disabled Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran from Arizona, said said he “will only accept termination.”

After an explosion of fury erupted over the photo, Stone posted on her Facebook page: “Whoa whoa whoa… wait. This is just us, being the douchebags that we are, challenging authority in general. Much like the pic posted the night before, of me smoking right next to a no smoking sign. OBVIOUSLY we meant NO disrespect to the people that serve or have served our country.”

That message was posted at 10:12 a.m. today.

Earlier today, Hyannis-based non-profit Living Independently Forever, Inc.,  which assists people with learning and intellectual disabilities, said it put Stone and the unidentified co-worker on unpaid leave.

LIFE’s statement said:

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.”

Attempts to reach Stone for comment have been unsuccessful so far.

In response to the controversy, a spokesperson for Arlington National Cemetery said it is “a national shrine which honors the service and sacrifice of the hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families who are laid to rest on these hallowed grounds,” and asked that anyone who visit the cemetery “comport themselves in a manner that is in keeping with the sacrifice of our Servicemembers laid to rest here.”

The ACLU weighed in on the story, since it raises questions about internet privacy.

Kade Crockford, the Massachusetts ACLU’s director of Technology for the Liberty Project, said that it is becoming more and more common for the things people say online to expose them to unwanted attention from employers,  government and friends and families.

“This incident serves as a reminder that what we say on social networking services like Twitter and Facebook often isn’t private — and can easily spread far faster and wider than we’d ever like or imagine,” Crockford said.

“Private companies have a lot more leeway under the law to fire or punish employees for their speech outside of work than do government employers. Either workers need to organize together to protect their speech outside of the office from employer reprisals, or they need to watch what they say online. No matter what, if you use Facebook, ensure that you have the strictest privacy controls locked in. While not a totally foolproof fix for the problem, it will keep the whole world from looking at your possibly regrettable or simply private Facebook photos and wall postings.”


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