Stephen Kings Thinks Illiterate Join Military

by Sean Hackbarth

Legendary author Stephen King joins Sen. John Kerry in thinking the U.S. military is full of people who can’t read. Terry Ann Online grabbed the video. Here’s what he said to a group of young people at an event aired on C-SPAN’s BookTV Sunday 05.04.08:

I don’t want to sound like an ad–a public service ad on TV–but the fact is that if you can read you can walk into a job later on. If you don’t then you got the Army, Iraq, I don’t know, something like that. It’s not as bright. So that’s my little commercial for that.

(I hope the applause came from the “reading is important remark” not the “soldiers are illiterate and end up in Iraq” quip.)

King thinks the troops stationed in Iraq are illiterate, uneducated people who couldn’t get jobs in the U.S. Nice. Real nice.

In 2005 a Pentagon official addressed the myth of the stupid soldier [via Gateway Pundit]:

“They are so clearly a cut above America,” Bill Carr, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, said of today’s recruits.

Carr bristles when he hears unfounded charges that the men and women entering the military are less educated, less affluent or less likely than other 18- to 24-year-olds to have alternatives to military service. Rather, a combination of volunteerism and commitment to service is prompting young people to enlist, Carr said, noting that a measure of shrewdness plays into their decision. “They are planning their future and considering what part we can play in it,” he said.

Carr likes to think of himself as a “myth buster,” helping break stereotypes he said are flat-out wrong and cheat servicemembers out of the pride they’ve earned and deserve.

He rattled off examples of those myths and set the record straight for each one.

* Myth 1: Military recruits are less educated and have fewer work alternatives than other young Americans.

In fact, military recruits are far better educated than the general youth population, Carr said. More than 90 percent of recruits have a high school diploma, compared to about 75 percent of the U.S. youth population.

That’s an important issue to the military, Carr said, because a traditional high school diploma is the single best indicator of a recruit’s stick-to-it-ness and likelihood of successfully adjusting to military service. Recruits with a high school diploma have a 70 percent probability of completing a three-year enlistment versus a 50 percent chance for nongraduates.

The Heritage Foundation found “the typical recruit in the all-volunteer force is wealthier, more educated and more rural than the average 18- to 24-year-old citizen is.” It’s a safe assumption they can read too.

King should spend as much time looking into the true capabilities of U.S. troops as he does crafting his novels.

King’s insult brings back memories of Sen. John Kerry. In 2006 Kerry embarrassed himself by telling Californians:

You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.

Kerry’s quote inspired a group of Minnesota National Guardsmen to take this memorable photograph.

Stuck Hear In Irak

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12 Responses to “Stephen Kings Thinks Illiterate Join Military”


[...] Here’s some reaction to Stephen King warning students they better learn to read or they’ll end up in the army or Iraq: [...]


Occassionally the mask of bonhomie does slip to provide plebes a glimpse at how the self styled elites really do see us. Obama sees us as gun toting religious bigots, wallowing in our bitterness. Whereas King seems to have ripped his weltanshaung directly from the pages of that Boston Brahmin wannabe, Senator John Kerry. I’m sure the contempt being expressed toward us ignorami is nothing new, but the near instantaneous broadcasting of it certainly is. Thank God for the Internet!


I used to be a fan of Mr. King’s work, being a somewhat of a horror afficionado. Mr King, however, has spouted off in recent years and completely turned me off (like some Hollywood types have). People like King are too ignorant to realize how ridiculous they sound. Not only does he insult the very people who give him the right to write his books, but his facts are entirely off-base, a product of how he sees the world as opposed to how it actually is. This is the key mistake that liberals always make. They assume their perspective is absolute fact, and then make inferences from the erroneous assumption. King’s original point was equally absurd. The ability to read is a fundamental skill, but by no means does it ensure you will “walk into a job”. King needs to go back to Libeal-land, where everything is peaches and cream all day long every day.


I am outraged at the negative comments thrown at our troops. My daughter has just commissioned out of college to the US ARMY as a 2nd Lieutenant. In order to get to commissioning day she had to obtain a college degree. 4 years later with a History Major and Military Science Minor she has earned the right for a public appology for the less educated elites who down her desire to fight for her country. Without our soldiers these opinionated individuals would not be able to speak these harsh condescending words. My daughter had a successful High school and College education. She received a Congressional nomination to West Point Military Academy. She has volunteered many hours to less fortunate people and the service is from her heart not from social obligation. Stephen King can you say the same thing. Please use your internet to research your material before speaking out of turn. Go US Troops…


Repugnant. And utterly off base. In 2002 my husband joined the Army Reserves. He has a successful law practice and two small children. He volunteered to go to Iraq, and he is there right now, in month 5 of a 12 month deployment. He went with friends who also have advanced degrees and volunteered to go. Mr. King’s remarks make me sick. While I doubt he is man enough to do so, he owes a lot of men and women an apology.


To Cindy McDaniel on May 6th, 2008. Thank your daughter for me for her dedication and service. The truth is these clowns never accept the fact that their freedoms are derived from those who actually provide those freedoms. I retired from the service some time ago and have 3 tours in Iraq (Post retirement) providing a service to the hero’s of this country. I also have a graduate degree so this dipsh!t King is another shinning example of those who are clueless. The troops are the absolute brightest shinning example of the best of our country.


Many thanks to to Cindy’s daughter and Anne’s husband. Their bravery, courage, and dedication to their country is amazing.


[...] Noel Sheppard found the military didn’t take kindly to Stephen King’s insult towards them. [...]


Being a big, big fan of Stepen King–I wanted to hear for myself what was said. After listening I truly feel that he did not mean to insult our troups. But it bothers me that he is guilty of this slip of the tongue. I know many well educated young men who are in the military. I am a dyslexia therapist and have taught in the public schools for 24 years. So, I not only know these young men, but know their families and watched them grow from Kindergarteners. The fact that I know them makes me extra thoughtful and extra aware when conversations turn toward anything having to do with the military. I am sad, because I wonder if Stepen King personally knows anyone in the military. If he did, how could he say such a thing? And if he does not–again, how could he say such a thing about people he does not even know? It just makes me hurt that an innocent remark like he made, is understandable. Is it due to the mindset of our population–how could a thinking, compassionate person make a blanket statement like that about our young men and women?


Before anything else is said, I want to say this: Just because a person is in the military doesn’t make them brave, strong, intelligent or anything else.A person in the military will be the same person if they were a civilian.

I strongly agree with what he said. If you can read there are more choices than the military. Its funny that how the military develops such advanced stuff makes them intelligent. The get more funding than civilians, thats all. Civilians get thousands while the military gets billions.

I also agree even if he did imply/state that the troops aren’t intelligent. Not everybody who joins the military have masters degrees in everything, despite common belief. I have been badgered lately to join the military because of great educational opportunities. I believe that if some people fall for this, most people who join seek more education. Plus if you take that people who join the military/services are illiterate and say that it is a personal insult, then it shows that you aren’t the greatest educated person. It shows that maybe you passed high school, then you joined. Getting angry at comments to a group and thinking that you are the one being insulted by it, then it shows that you are guity of what is being insulted. If a person called you a mentally retarded person, and you get angry over it, it shows that you think you are mentally retarded. Hey it the way things work. People who don’t get angry at things that aren’t true show their superiority to others by thinking better of themselves.

I also couldn’t help but chuckle when I see the out of context line that is used as a quote:
“if you can read you can walk into a job later on. If you don’t then you got the Army, Iraq”
People pass this around on web sites and act like it is all he said. Those more intelligent people would have taken the whole statement and then based their opinion on it. He also said that there are more intelligent jobs than the military. HE WASN’T SAYING THE MILITARY IS UNEDUCATED! He was saying that if you are educated, you have more choices open later in life.

I really like how people take a little fragment and use it against someone. It reminds me of this episode of House m.d. that I saw, House made all kinds of remarks that when seen as a whole, would make him seem like a bad person, but the filmers took little fragments to make him sound like someone he’s not. It’s funny that if the media was giving us food rations, we’d all starve to death in a month. They only twist the truth to get the end result. They only tell you what they want you to hear. Anytime a well-known person implies something or makes a slip of tongue the media is there to make it worse. I do agree, however, that he should have chosen a better wording. This way, taken extremely literally, says that the military is only open to people who can’t read.

One final point, why is it that the teenagers in the crowd agreed with his point, but most adults are offended. The teenagers didn’t say, “He insulted the troops” “He said that the troops are for people with learning difficulties.” They didn’t throw around fragments, they didn’t try to get everyone to dislike him.


Another comment derived from other comments. It’s funny that a higher education only comes into play when insults like “dipshit” and “ass/hole” come into play. Most of the people commenting say “I was in service and am insulted by your comment”. This shows that they demand respect. Its funny how saying that the illiterate go into the military makes every single person in the military illiterate. He didn’t say that, he said that there are more intelligent jobs than joining the military. I strongly, strongly agree with that. There are hundreds of civilian jobs that require more intelligence than the military does. The military will take you if you can pass a mental and physical exam. If you are able to pass the test, and you are healthy, you can be in the military. I have had multiple speakers in my schools, all three of them that said that it takes extremely little to get into the military. What now are people going to try to bring down there military people who said this? It’s funny how recruiters say that it takes very little intelligence to be in the service, and its just fine. A well known person says that you can join the service if you can’t read, then they are ridiculed to no end over it.


Thing about Stephen King is he apts to stereotype people don’t go to college; not really stereotype but degrade them a little. Anyone who has read Lisey Story will notice that the character Zack Mccool, who is labeled as an “uneducated man”, sends Lisey a post-card in which he types very poorly. I find that offensive, as a sixteen year old that obviously isn’t in college. I think Stephen King should just write and not try to degrade people (another example is what he said about Stephanie Meyer.)

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