I recently posted a story about a teenager who tweeted a negative comment about Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to her sixty-five followers. Brownback’s office, monitoring for negative on-line comments, found the tweet and reported this to her school’s principal. Neither the principal or Brownback’s office showed any appreciation of First Amendment rights and the principal demanded that the girl apologize to Brownback.
The student has refused to apologize. AP reports:
Emma Sullivan, 18, of the Kansas City suburb of Fairway, said she isn’t sorry and doesn’t think such a letter would be sincere.
The Shawnee Mission East senior was taking part in a Youth in Government program last week in Topeka, Kan., when she sent out a tweet from the back of a crowd of students listening to Brownback’s greeting. From her cellphone, she thumbed: “Just made mean comments at gov. brownback,” and then specified what the comments were.
She actually made no such comment and said she was “just joking with friends.” But Brownback’s office, which monitors social media for postings containing the governor’s name, saw Sullivan’s post and contacted the Youth in Government program.
Sullivan received a scolding at school and was ordered to send Brownback an apology letter. She said Prinicipal Karl R. Krawitz even suggested talking points for the letter she was supposed to turn in Monday.
Her mother is showing far better understanding of freedom of speech than either the principal or Brownback.
Sullivan’s mother, Julie, said she isn’t angry with her daughter, even though she thinks she “could have chosen different words.”
“She wasn’t speaking to the 3,000 followers she has now,” Julie Sullivan said. “She was talking to 65 friends. And also it’s the speech they use today. It’s more attention grabbing. I raised my kids to be independent, to be strong, to be free thinkers.
“If she wants to tweet her opinion about Gov. Brownback, I say for her to go for it and I stand totally behind her.”
Update: Brownback has apologized for the over-reaction of his staff.