Disparaging tweet about Gov. Sam Brownback lands Kansas teen in principal’s office

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Disparaging tweet about Gov. Sam Brownback lands Kansas teen in principal’s office

By Suzanne Perez Tobias
The Wichita Eagle

Published Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011, at 6:06 p.m.
Updated Friday, Nov. 25, 2011, at 12:49 p.m.


Emma Sullivan
Kansas teen-Gov. Brownback Twitter controversy sparks reaction on social media

A Kansas teenager is in trouble after mocking Gov. Sam Brownback during a mock legislative assembly for high school students.

Emma Sullivan, a senior at Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, was in Topeka on Monday as part of Kansas Youth in Government, a program for students interested in politics and government.

During the session, in which Brownback addressed the group, Sullivan posted on her personal Twitter page:

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

On Tuesday, Sullivan was called to her principal’s office and told that the tweet had been flagged by someone on Brownback’s staff and reported to organizers of the Youth in Government program.

The principal “laid into me about how this was unacceptable and an embarrassment,” Sullivan said. “He said I had created this huge controversy and everyone was up in arms about it … and now he had to do damage control.

“I’m mainly shocked that they would even see that tweet and be concerned about me,” she said. “I just honestly feel they’re making a lot bigger deal out of it than it actually was.”

Sullivan said the principal ordered her to write letters of apology to Brownback, the school’s Youth in Government sponsor, the district’s social studies coordinator and others.

Karl Krawitz, the school principal, did not return calls or e-mails Wednesday.

Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said her office had forwarded a copy of Sullivan’s tweet to organizers of the school-sponsored event “so that they were aware what their students were saying in regards to the governor’s appearance.

“We monitor social media so we can see what Kansans are thinking and saying about the governor and his policies,” Jones-Sontag said.

“We just felt it was appropriate for the organizers to be aware … because of what was said in the tweet.”

Sullivan, 18, said she posted the comment because she doesn’t agree with Brownback’s policies, particularly recent cuts in state aid to schools. She is a registered Democrat.

“Some of my friends were joking about what they’d really like to say (to Brownback), so I just took out my phone” and tweeted, she said. “I guess it was kind of a heat-of-the-moment thing.”

She didn’t think much about it, Sullivan said, because her Twitter page – @emmakate988 – had only about 60 followers and was “pretty anonymous.”

Brownback’s office discovered the tweet via a Web search for his name, officials said.

Niomi Burget, Brownback’s scheduling secretary, e-mailed a screen shot of the tweet to the Youth in Government sponsor at Shawnee Mission East, writing: “I don’t know if this was someone with your group, but thought if it was, you might want it brought to your attention.”

The Shawnee Mission school district was not in session Wednesday. Leigh Anne Neal, spokeswoman for the district, said that district officials were not aware of the incident, but would look into it after the Thanksgiving break.

“In general,” she wrote, “students on school-sponsored field trips, in which they are representing the school, would be expected to conduct themselves in accordance with school district policies, including use of electronic devices. Students may express their personal beliefs, views, and opinions, as long as they do so appropriately and in accordance with school policies.”

Sullivan’s older sister, Olivia, a sophomore majoring in political science at Wichita State University, said she thinks the controversy amounts to Brownback “censoring the opinion of a student.”

“This is something she said on her personal Twitter account,” Olivia Sullivan said.

“It’s unacceptable, first of all, to censor her and punish her for what she said. But for the governor and his staff to waste their time getting a high school student in trouble? That’s ridiculous.”

As of Wednesday, the offending tweet remained on Emma Sullivan’s Twitter page despite a suggestion by her principal that she remove it. It’s still there alongside tweets from a recent “Twilight” movie marathon and her thoughts on Justin Bieber’s holiday CD (“Just found out justin bieber raps in his christmas album... #mixedfeelings”).

She said she plans to write the apology letters over Thanksgiving break and then put the episode behind her. She is awaiting word from the University of Arkansas, where she applied for college next year and hopes to double-major in psychology and sociology.

“I don’t regret what I said,” she said. “I guess I’m just kind of shocked right now.”
http://www.kansas.com/2011/11/24/2114760/disparaging-tweet-about-gov-sam.html#ixzz1el1rsP9w
 

Psychopath

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The school can get fucked. And why the fuck is the cunt Governor's office wasting taxpayers money by searching for his name on the internet?
 

Motor Head

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#4
He might have that reputation defender service. Fuck him. Political discourse is the #1 reason why we have freedom of speech in this country.
 

Falldog

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#10
Back in high school I formed a website about a teacher I didn't like. I don't really remember much about what was on it, but it was brought down following a trip to the principals office.

Probably would've got press if I was a hot white chick.
 
May 24, 2004
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#12
The real mistake was having a Twitter account with your real name on it. Why anyone would ever post their real opinions/thoughts/comments/photos online and tie it to their real identities still confounds me. I don't have a Facebook site and the Twitter I use has a fake name. I can say all the shit I want without a care in the world.

She should have used the opportunity to tear that fuck a new asshole.
 

Hog's Big Ben

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#13
The school should be happy that they have at least one kid who even knows the name of the governor.

The principal “laid into me about how this was unacceptable and an embarrassment,” Sullivan said. “He said I had created this huge controversy and everyone was up in arms about it … and now he had to do damage control.
They're going to have to do a lot more damage control now. Oops.
 

CousinDave

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#14
The real mistake was having a Twitter account with your real name on it. Why anyone would ever post their real opinions/thoughts/comments/photos online and tie it to their real identities still confounds me. I don't have a Facebook site and the Twitter I use has a fake name. I can say all the shit I want without a care in the world.

She should have used the opportunity to tear that fuck a new asshole.

My name is no secret and I post some really dumb ass shit, but since I can't be embarrassed or shamed or anything, it dosen't matter
 

Norm Stansfield

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#15
My name is no secret and I post some really dumb ass shit, but since I can't be embarrassed or shamed or anything, it dosen't matter
I guess you're not currently receiving mandatory education at a government institution. Or any reputable institution. Nor are you working or doing business with one. Otherwise, saying embarrassing things would definitely inconvenience you.

But people who do are going to be limited in their speech. Let's not kid ourselves about that. It would be impossible to apply the First Amendment to that situation. The authors of the First Amendment never dreamed of having such a situation. They just figured Americans would do a better job raising their children without government involvement, so they didn't address the situation. (well, they did address it, by limiting government to a list of enumerated powers-but that's being ignored)

They certainly didn't write the First Amendment so that kids could say whatever they want in public, with no repercussions from their teachers or school. Interpreting it that way is just silly. I still agree that she shouldn't be punished for this, but it's not a First Amendment issue unless you're ready to apply the First Amendment indiscriminately (meaning kids would be allowed to express themselves in any way they please, and their school could do nothing. That would put an end to public education pretty fast.
 

MetalBender

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#16
Will the school also be looking into other students that may have used an electronic device during school hours or are they just going to single out one student?

and God damn rich cunt!
 

CousinDave

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#17
Will the school also be looking into other students that may have used an electronic device during school hours or are they just going to single out one student?

I think the only reason anyone cared is because she claimed she said this to the governor's face, when in fact she did not, if she would have just said "Hey I think the governor of this state sucks" nobody would have bothered her

I have never believed that free speech includes making shit up - opinions = absolutely, lies = no way
 

MetalBender

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#18
I think the only reason anyone cared is because she claimed she said this to the governor's face, when in fact she did not, if she would have just said "Hey I think the governor of this state sucks" nobody would have bothered her

I have never believed that free speech includes making shit up - opinions = absolutely, lies = no way


Yes, yes because no one would put BS on twitter..
 

CousinDave

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#19
Yes, yes because no one would put BS on twitter..

I don't disagree, I'm just saying if she had not lied about saying something to the governor's face then it never would have been brought to the attention of anyone
 

Don the Radio Guy

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#20
Internet tough girl busted. Maybe she'll learn a lesson that words have consequences.
 

Norm Stansfield

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#21
I think the only reason anyone cared is because she claimed she said this to the governor's face, when in fact she did not, if she would have just said "Hey I think the governor of this state sucks" nobody would have bothered her

I have never believed that free speech includes making shit up - opinions = absolutely, lies = no way
Why? And yes, lies are covered under the First Amendment. You're free to lie.