The Rules Don’t Apply to the MRFF. Again.
The prior discussion on Michael Weinstein’s visit to Maxwell AFB apparently got some attention at the official level, with the author of the original post now saying the Air Force was “fully postured [to] punish” him for his comments.
As noted here previously, Chris Livingston apparently violated Air University policies by, at least, identifying Weinstein as a speaker without obtaining either Weinstein or the school commander’s permission. In his most recent military criticsm, he admits both points — naming Weinstein and not asking permission — yet so values his self-importance he thinks the military went “after” him not for violating the rules, but because he’s a “dissident.”
As mentioned here long ago in advice to Christians, one should be averse to playing the martyr after a foolish choice:
…if a Christian feels as though he is being persecuted, he should be sure that he is suffering for the sake of righteousness and is not being ostracized because he’s offensive, rude, foolish, or obnoxious…If a Christian breaks the law or even merely violates common sense he will be justifiably rebuked by those around him, regardless of any religious affiliation the situation may have had.
Livingston has admitted to attributing statements to Weinstein, and doing so without asking permission. That is a clear violation of military policies. Whether or not his written statements agreed with Weinstein was irrelevant, though Livingston, ever the martyr, disagrees:
I think it is safe to assume that had I written a laudatory blog post praising ACSC for their handling of this event I never would have heard a thing about “academic freedom” and “non-disclosure”.
Here Livingston demonstrates an inability to understand a simple concept. It was non-attribution that was at issue.
As in previous cases, Weinstein has decided the rules don’t apply to his supporters (just everyone else). Apparently without even looking up the Maxwell policies, Weinstein said this to Livingston:
Academic freedom?! Don’t they know I can say whatever I want about any of this? I never signed onto any sort of stricture over my speech, and I never would have. Chris, you haven’t done anything wrong here, and I don’t think you need to worry…
Notice Weinstein’s focus on himself? It has nothing to do with him. The military rules clearly restricted Livingston’s conduct as a member of the military. He clearly had done something wrong, yet Weinstein assured him — without even pausing to look up the rules — he had not. Any credibility Weinstein may have had about conduct in the military (which was admittedly little) was just eliminated.
As noted in many other cases, Weinstein and his organization are quick to try to hold people they oppose to their interpretation of the rules, yet they themselves won’t adhere to unambiguous military guidance.
In the end, it is unlikely the Air Force would have done much to an officer on terminal leave (after his leave ended, he was officially separated from the military). What probably ended up happening likely would have happened anyway: Weinstein called Maxwell in defense of Livingston, which gave his permission for the attribution. The school commander probably said if you don’t mind, we don’t either. (Thus, he obtained permission after the fact.) Then, they would have turned to Livingston and said you should have asked, as the rules require. Now have a nice day, and enjoy your in-the-zone promotion to “Mr.”
It does appear the incident influenced Livingston in one way; he waited until this week, when his five year commitment to the military was up, before he posted the rebuttal.
If Livingston really does believe he has a right not to take military rules “seriously,” and wants to speak “what [he] sees, as [he] sees it,” without “giving up his rights” by following rules and asking permission, then both he and the Air Force are probably better off with him as a civilian. (He actually has a reserve commitment, though that’s not germane.)
For all the fire and vinegar in Livingston’s posts, it is telling that when he was told by a “friend” at Maxwell that superior officers were looking for him, he turned and ran. He had the perfect opportunity to display professional officership (the lack of which he denounced in his fellow officers) and conviction in his principles. Instead, his moral courage appears to be limited to the internet.
To Chris Livingston, good luck in the civilian world. You might find, of course, that civilian employers also have rules you are required to follow. If you choose not to do so, you’ll find yourself spending an awful lot of time looking for work.