Brownback's office right to complain about student's tweet
The Kansas City Star
I suspect a lot of Thanksgiving conversations got around to the way Gov. Sam Brownback’s office responded to a snarky tweet by a high school student who visited the Kansas state Capitol on a Youth in Government trip.
This will probably surprise some people, but I’m with the governor on this one.
For those who haven’t read this story, Brownback made a few remarks to the visiting students. Shawnee Mission East senior Emma Sullivan tweeted: “Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person#heblowsalot.” Brownback’s spokeswoman, Sherriene Jones-Sontag contacted the Youth in Government program and complained. Her gripe was passed along to the school principal, who reamed out Sullivan and told her to write a letter of apology.
Brownback and Jones-Sontag are catching heat for being overly sensitive, not having better things to do than monitor tweets, getting a teenager in trouble and meddling with freedom of speech.
But here’s the deal. Sullivan certainly has the right to send a dumb message out over the Internet. But Brownback’s office has the right to be offended that a student would act disrespectfully in a forum designed to promote students’ understanding of government. Sherriene-Jones had the right to complain. And the school has the right to be embarrassed and ask the student to apologize.
It’s all part of the great raucous arena known as freedom of expression, and the continuing debate over where a line is crossed. Frankly, as someone who recoils at seeing the First Lady of the nation booed at a public appearance, an ex-president publicly taunted as he leaves office, and the president of the United States heckled during a State-of-the-Union address, I don’t mind seeing the governor of Kansas take a stand.