Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kansas student refuses to apologize for criticizing governor

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Which is more outrageous, here: that a politically inclined Kansas high-schooler wrote that Gov. Sam Brownback (R) “sucked” on Twitter, or that the Governor’s office pressured the school into demanding that the student apologize?

My transcript: (click the [+/-] to expand/collapse →) []

ANCHOR: A Shawnee Mission East high school student is in the spotlight for a tweet she made about Governor Sam Brownback. […]

REPORTER JAKE PETERSON: 18-year-old Emma Sullivan says Brownback’s staff contacted the school after she posted tweets saying how she felt about him. She says it’s free speech, but it appears the school doesn’t agree.

High school senior Emma Sullivan doesn’t shy away from politics.

EMMA SULLIVAN: I’m trying to be more involved, ’cause I just registered to vote.

REPORTER: On Monday, she went with her school’s government group to Topeka. Governor Brownback even gave them a speech.

SULLIVAN: I don’t agree with a majority of the things that he’s trying to pass or, like, not letting pass.

REPORTER: So, the social senior tweeted her feelings about the experience and what she wished she could’ve done.

SULLIVAN [reading her tweet]: “Just made mean comments to Gov. Brownback and told him he sucked, in person. #heblowsalot”

REPORTER: She says that tweet landed her in the principal’s office.

SULLIVAN: He explained the situation and that someone from Brownback’s office got a hold of it, then sent it to someone in charge of the district.

REPORTER: Sullivan says her principal wants her to write an apology to Governor Brownback.

SULLIVAN: I probably have, like, sixty followers on Twitter. Like, I didn’t it’d be, like, everyone would be freaking out.

GARD GIBSON: She’s a legal adult. She has the right to be able to share her opinion.

REPORTER: VML Creative Group’s Gard Gibson says he’s surprised the Governor’s took time to respond to one tweet. He says the Governor and the district are looking at this the wrong way.

GIBSON: Honestly, if it’s a government class and she was interested enough to have an opinion, if I’m the teacher, I’m happy.

REPORTER: Sullivan isn’t happy that her post caused so much of a ruckus, but she says she’s learned a lesson about how to grab the attention of people in power.

And Sullivan told us that she has not decided if she will write that letter to the Governor. Nobody from the Governor’s office was available for comment. We did get an email from the district, stating: “District officials are not aware of this school-specific incident, but [they] will look into the matter immediately following Thanksgiving break.” And that was in part of what they had to say.

It now turns out that Emma Sullivan has made her decision – and refuses to apologize:

Emma Sullivan told The Associated Press on Sunday that she's not sorry and an apology letter wouldn't be sincere.

Good on Miss Sullivan. And a heaping load of shame on Gov. Brownback for trying to use his position of power to bully an interested student into silence for saying some mean words about him. Maybe Sullivan should replace him; she seems to know a lot more about freedom than he does.

(via @radleybalko)