A week ago, Emma Sullivan was simply another high school student in Topeka, Kansas. She had her circle of friends and family like all high school students. She was attending a Kansas Youth in Government program where Governor Sam Brownback addressed her and her fellow students. Sometime during this conference she tweeted: Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot. Okay, no big deal, just a high school student expressing herself. Then, somebody from the governor’s office called the principal of her school. Let’s just think about this just for second. A high school student says something to the governor. As far as I know, she hasn’t broken any laws and hasn’t violated any code of conduct that I know of. Why would somebody from the governor’s office run whining to the principal’s office? Why would the principal’s office pay any attention to it? According to Emma Sullivan, the high school student, she was ordered by the principal to write letters of apology to Governor Brownback, the school’s Youth in Government sponsor and several other recipients.
This morning Emma tweeted “I’ve decided not to write the letter but I hope this opens the door for average citizens to voice their opinion & to be heard! #goingstrong.” Would you or would you not agree that we should all have the right to criticize our political leaders? She does not have the right to be rude, but she does have the right to express herself in a way that does not disrupt the class or the learning activity. If she’s able to do this, there’s no reason for the governor’s office to be offended. There’s no reason for the principal’s office to get involved.
Update: Finally, some common sense (and I didn’t think that Governor Brownback had any!)
Oh, but there’s more:
In the uproar over a Prairie Village teenager’s tweet about Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback during a school trip, it is the governor who is apologizing. “My staff over-reacted to this tweet, and for that, I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms,” said a statement from Brownback’s office.
Overreacted, indeed. Ya think?
So let’s see. A teenager tweeted that her governor sucks. He does in fact suck, as is evidenced by his staff obsessively compiling an enemies list of teenage girls who don’t like him on Twitter. His staff complains, the school principal freaks out, probably correctly figuring that Brownback’s office will use it as excuse to cut their pencil budget again, this time down to one pencil per thirty kids, and tells the teenage girl she has to apologize. The wider world finds out about it, floods all parties with messages of support for the teenager in question and suddenly everybody remembers the First Amendment again.