Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

Student Emma Sullivan Receives Apology from Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback for “Overreaction” to Nasty Tweet

A Kansas  student who was scolded by authorities at her high school for  posting a disparaging tweet about the state’s Republican governor has received an apology from that governor, who now says his office “overreacted” by snitching on her.

According to CBS News and the Huffington Post, 18-year-old Emma Sullivan, a senior at Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, attended a Youth in Government program at which Governor Sam Brownback spoke. As he did so, Sullivan used her cellphone to tweet:

Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot

She never said any such thing and insists that she was “just joking with friends.”

But the governor’s office didn’t find the tweet funny at all. It contacted the Youth in Government program and it wasn’t long before her principal, one Karl R. Krawitz, found out about it. He ordered Sullivan to write an apology letter to Brownback and, according to CBS News, even suggested talking points.

Sullivan refused to write that letter.

Her older sister contacted the media; now she’s got more than 3,000 new Twitter followers. She told CBS News that her offensive tweet has helped “open up dialogue” about free speech in social media. She says she’d do it all again.

When asked why she tweeted that Brownback “sucks,” Sullivan cited his decision to veto the Kansas Arts Commission’s entire budget. According to CBS News, Kansas is the only state to eliminate arts funding.

Sullivan, a self-admitted political novice, might think Brownback #blowsalotmore if she knew of some of his far more despicable acts as a Republican U.S. senator. He was, for example, one of 30 GOP senators who voted to deny rape victims legal redress against employers who restrict workers from taking workplace sexual assault cases to court.

Now comes news that Gov. Brownback has apologized to Sullivan for overreacting to her tweet:

“My staff over-reacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms. I enjoyed speaking to the more than 100 students who participated in the Youth in Government Program at the Kansas Capitol. They are our future. I also want to thank the thousands of Kansas educators who remind us daily of our liberties, as well as the values of civility and decorum. Again, I apologize for our over-reaction.”

Now it’s time for her school to follow suit.

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