Nidal Hasan is refusing to shave his beard, citing religious freedom. The result has been delays in his court-martial.
Hasan is a major in the U.S. Army – who now is accused of slaughtering more than a dozen people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas. The Army wants to put him on trial for the crime but his lawyers keep winning these delays because he has grown a beard while being held in jail awaiting his trial.
Hasan is a devout Muslim and says his beard is an expression of his faith. Thus, Hasan asserts he is exempt from Army rules and regulations. What utter horse dookey.
Hasan, a psychiatrist, enlisted in the Army. He volunteered to serve his country. When he signed his name on his enlistment papers he agreed to abide by rules laid down by the Army. The Army I served in more than 40 years ago didn’t give soldiers the option of deciding whether to follow the rules. You followed the lawful orders given to you or you faced the consequences. I am quite certain virtually all those mandates exist in today’s Army.
I’m with the Army on this one. The brass says Hasan should shave his beard in accordance with military regulations. If he doesn’t do it voluntarily, the Army is pondering whether to remove his facial hair by force. If he is convicted of the crimes for which he’s been charged, Hasan will get a dishonorable discharge … and then he can grow his beard to whatever length he chooses.
But until then, when your commanding officers order you to do something, you are compelled under military code to do what you’re told. That’s why they call them “orders.”