Should they be disciplined?

The U.S. Military Academy, commonly known as West Point, launched an inquiry into a group of 16 black, female cadets set to graduate after they posed in a traditional group photo raising their fists – a gesture historically associated with black resistance.

The image prompted an investigation on 28 April to determine whether or not the women broke any rules, West Point spokesperson Lt Col Christopher Kasker said in a statement. Department of Defence guidelines prohibit soldiers and cadets from making political statements while in uniform or on military grounds.

This is a tricky one. The rules are a lot different for an individual wearing the uniform of the United States military, and the cadet uniform of West Point is most certainly that. The same rights that exist for a civilian don’t apply when one is in uniform. So should these future leaders of U.S. Army soldiers be punished for this picture? It’s not as easy as it appears at first glance. Let’s look at another, precedent-setting controversial photograph for some context.