The following is from Just The News.
An Air Force Reserve officer is suing the Department of the Air Force and the U.S. Space Force in federal court after they officially reprimanded him for making private comments at a private function about “cancel culture” permeating the military.
Major Jace Yarbrough, an Air Force reservist assigned to the Space Force, received a written admonishment for talking about “cancel culture” in the military.
Yarbrough says he believes that disciplinary action is already negatively affecting his career.
He filed a lawsuit on Tuesday with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to have the reprimand rescinded, arguing that his First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and free exercise of religion were violated.
He attended the ceremony at his own expense and wore his military uniform at the event in his civilian capacity, which is allowed while at “occasions of military ceremonies” and “social functions and informal gatherings of a military nature,” the lawsuit notes, citing Air Force regulations.
“The LOA reprimanded Mr. Yarbrough for his retirement ceremony remarks, made while in civilian status, and stated that Mr. Yarbrough’s speech had been ‘insubordinate, disrespectful, and unbecoming for an officer in the military,’” the filing later adds.
In Yarbrough’s speech, he warned how “the totalizing claims of a radical political faction within our wider culture have broken into our military.”
He later added that this faction uses “cancel culture.”
“Ordinary Americans, including our Airmen, are at risk of losing their livelihoods for saying things that, until yesterday, were matters of basic common sense and wisdom,” Yarbrough continued. "Things like, ‘men can’t birth babies,’ and ‘boys should not be allowed in the girls locker room.’”
His speech also included a quote from the play “A Candle in the Wind,” by Soviet dissident and writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, which said in part, "To stand up for truth is nothing. For truth, you must sit in jail. You can resolve to live your life with integrity."
An inquiry into Yarbrough’s remarks was conducted following the complaint that was filed by the Navy member.
The LOA included statements from six witnesses that were obtained in the inquiry, some of whom had positive comments about his speech.
One witness “found the speech to be ‘professional and respectful,’” while "two other witnesses understood the speech as an expression of Mr. Yarbrough’s religious beliefs,” according to the lawsuit.
However, “The LOA referenced ‘several military members expressing displeasure with the contents of [Mr. Yarbrough’s] speech,’” the lawsuit reads.
The LOA didn’t identify any specific military code that Yarbrough allegedly violated, but simply said he was to “exercise better judgement and use appropriate venues for expressing personal views that align and comport with AFI 51-508 and AFI 1-1 for exercising [his] free speech rights,” the lawsuit reads.
USAF regulations do not require citation to a specific military code in a Letter of Reprimand. They do, however, require telling the airman what they did or failed to do, citing specific incidents and their dates, what improvement is expected, and a warning that further deviation may result in more severe action. Recipients of an LOA have three duty days to submit documents for consideration, which will become part of the record.
Yarbrough appealed the LOA four times, with the last denial issued “on behalf of the current Chief of Space Operations,” according to the lawsuit.
The subsequent appeals “were denied without much substantive explanation or sufficient legal reasoning,” First Liberty Institute Senior Counsel Danielle Runyan, who represents Yarbrough, told Just the News on Wednesday.
“We’ve entered dangerous territory if the Air Force thinks it can punish Jace for his private religious exercise and private speech while acting as a private citizen in a private venue,” Runyan said in a statement on Tuesday. “In his purely civilian capacity, Jace had permission to speak freely and exercise his U.S. Constitutional and federally protected rights as an American citizen. The Air Force’s punishment of Jace is a perfect example of the very cancel culture he warned about in his speech.”
The lawyers for Yarbrough declined to provide Just the News with a copy of the LOA.
Read full article here.
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