Thursday, November 24, 2011

Emma Sullivan vs. Gov. Sam Brownback

Shawnee Mission East High School took some students to Topeka to see up close and personal how State Government worked.

One of the students, Emma Sullivan, was not impressed. She tweeted about the experience.

“Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot,” Sullivan thumbed from the back of the crowd.

“Joking around,” Sullivan says of the incident.

Brownback’s director of communication wasn’t amused when the tweet was spotted during the routine daily monitoring of comments on Twitter and Facebook mentioning the governor’s name.

“That wasn’t respectful,” responded Sherriene Jones-Sontag. “In order to really have a constructive dialogue, there has to be mutual respect.”

Brownback’s brief speech to the students encouraged them to “be active in their government, community and public service,” Jones-Sontag says.

The tweet was the only one brought to her attention that day, she says, and it was passed along to the Youth in Government program, which organized the students’ visit to the capital.

“It was important for the organization to be aware of the comments their students were making.” Jones-Sontag says. “It’s also important for students to recognize the power of social media, how lasting it is. It is on the Internet.”

Sullivan says things developed quickly: She landed in the principal’s office for a scolding that lasted nearly an hour. She says she was told the “not so nice” comments had embarrassed her school and the district and that “damage control” with the governor’s office was the next step. So Shawnee Mission East is forcing her to write an apology to the governor’s office, with the principal even giving her talking points to hit"

This is complete and utter Right Wing, authoritarian bullshit.

They claim to want small, unobtrusive government.

But here we have a teenage high school student, on a field trip to the State Capitol, who is being encouraged to participate in the political process.

When she takes the lesson to heart and exercises her right of Free Speech to voice her opinion, it is intercepted by the Office of the Governor of Kansas who reports her to the Principal of her High School as a dangerous subversive who needs to be disciplined.

Sam Brownback is the most narrow minded, hate filled, hypocritical, divisive politician to emerge in Kansas politics since Phil Kline.

And he is so terrified of a high school senior's judgment that "he sucks" that he orders his staff to report the student to her Principal and demands an apology?

Fuck you Sam Brownback!

I really, REALLY hope that Mitt Romney wins the Republican Primary and chooses Sam Brownback as his VP running mate.

Because nothing would guarantee Barack Obama another 4 years than a Romney/Brownback ticket.

I can see their campaign slogan now. "We'll shove a Bible up your ass and a Book of Mormon down your throat! Take it and like it, bitches!"

Every time a Republican fucktard opens their mouth to say something or takes any action they reinforce what everyone knows.

They are ignorant, intolerant, idiots who, under no circumstances, can be allowed to hold positions of power at any level.


Masorti said...

"You suck" is not, by any means, good political dialogue. She should have shown his office respect..maybe not so much the man. I am a moderate..and most of the time the right and left are more comical than anything. This was over the line on both parts. The right showed they can squash free speech..the left showed they were too ignorant to use it properly.

Xavier Onassis said...

Masorti - Respect is earned. You don't automatically get it by being the best liar (politician).

She expressed her opinion in a public forum about an elected officials appearance at a public event that she was invited to attend as part of a high school civics class.

In response, a member of the Governor's staff reported her comment to the Principal of her high school in an effort to have her disciplined for thinking that the Governor is, ya know, a dick.

Which he totally proved that he is.

Governor Brownback needs to personally go to Emma's high school, apologize to her in front of the entire student body, and publically commend her for exercising her rights as an American citizen.

Mari said...

Masorti - The issue isn't a matter of "was Emma disrespectful". I think most rational people would agree those are not respectful words. The issue is that the Constitution does not grant us the right to free speech, but only if it is "respectful".

We live in a nation that allows a "religious" group to spew some of the most disrespectful speech that I have ever heard at a time of great personal grief, at funerals. And we are worried that a 18 year old student makes a disrespectful comment to people who have chosen to have dialoogue with her. Seriously???? Filtering out messages we personally find disrespectful or disagreeable is a small price to pay for our Freedom. Many women and men have lost their lifes protecting that very right for you, for me and for Emma.

I do wish she would have chosen better words to express herself though. But only because using words that make people label you as "ignorant" dilutes the true message. And if my child had made this tweet they would have gotten some grief from me over word choice. But I would fight to the death for my child's right to freedom of speech. Without that right, are we really free?

I Travel for JOOLS said...

An interesting post. I had not seen anything about this.

I have mixed feelings about this one. She did it via social media. She didn't yell out in a hearing room or anything like that.

I do think it was highly disrespectful given it was a high school trip and I think the principal has every right to discipline her.

However, I don't think the Governor's office should have ratted her out either. They should have let it pass.

And Romney is not going to pick Brownback. He's going to pick my man, Marco Rubio. :-)

Mari said...


Just curious, but if the student had written a personal letter while in school and then mailed that letter to 60 of her friends, would you still think the principal had the right to tell her what she could or couldn't say? In effect that is what she did. That is in essence what she did, she just used social media to deliver that letter instead of the post office.

Also, the Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines that the right to free speech does not stop at the schoolhouse gate. They set standards for when speech could be stifled in a school setting. Legally her principal could only stifle her speech if it was disruptive, it obviously wasn't as no one knew about it until after the event, or if it violated someone else's rights. No one has claimed Emma violated anyone's rights with her tweet.

You can probably figure out I am pretty passionate about protecting our freedoms. Some days the freedoms that our government has set forth as our basic rights as citizens are all I can find to be proud of in said government.

Anonymous said...

I am outraged that our tax dollars are being spent to have the followers and staff of Brownback wasting time spying on people and trying to crucify a high school student because they don't like what she said or her opinion.

First off Freedom of Speech means just that. She has an opinion of Brownback plain and simple as many others do but are they being picked on. FUCK NO the gov and his minions go after a high school student who they know they can bully around. Well guess what they are not going to get away with it.

It's not for us to really judge if what she said was nice or not because it's a subject more of personal opinion. I don't always agree with Xavier in here but you know what it's his blog and it his opinion so I sure as fuck am not going to demand he write a letter and apologize to us for what he said.

She didn't swear and get anywhere as dirty as she could have so dickhead Brownback with thin skin needs to grow a pair and stop picking on school kids.

Man what a douche.

Talk about political suicide.

I Travel for JOOLS said...

Mari, If I had to vote on this, I guess I'd vote with you. You've convinced me. But, does a school ever have a right to discipline a kid based on disrespectful behavior conducted DURING school time, free speech or no? I'm just asking.

Masorti said...

Xav..I misread. I thought she made the statement in a public forum while on that trip. If it were just a tweet then brownback needs to seek therapy about being so butthurt over a highschool girl saying he sucks. As far as respect being earned..true. Thats why I said respect for the office if not for the person. I have no respect for Bush or Obama but I respect the office.

Anonymous said...

Good point JOOLS and good question. I say yes the school does have a right to say we don't agree with what you did and that it was maybe a poor choice of wording and so forth. Just a short sweet five minute talk was all that was needed

What the school didn't have was the right to force the young lady to do what they did thats where they was wrong in their actions.

As well I really wonder if a school can FORCE a student to write a letter of this nature to someone outside of the school about something like this with out first having talked with the parents and should anything like this really need to be a part of her school record which they very well may try and do.

This whole deal sort of makes one wonder if school dist or the office personel and leaders of Shawnee Mission East are not huge Brokeback Brownback supporters?

Mari said...

Honestly I don't know when or if a school does legally have the right to punish someone for being disrespectful. All I know is what the Supreme Court has ruled on your right to free speech at school. My personal opinion is that disrespectful behavior is more of a parenting issue. But I will grant you that many parents don't realy care about disrespectful behavior.

I will also say that it is very possible that Emma violated a school policy in this instance. For example, my children have attended this school and I know it is against school policy to use your cell phone during class. I am not sure if it is also against policy to use it n field trips. If she violated a school policy, she should by all means be punished for that violation. She should just not be punished for the content of her message. And I would have to get our student handbook out again, but I think the punishment for using your phone in class is simply it gets taken away from you for the day or maybe the semester (although that might be after multiple violations).

I Travel for JOOLS said...

Free speech is an interesting thing. Let's say Emma was an employee of a oompany that was hosting Brownback for a speech at their facility. And let's say Emma put this same post out on social media while an employee of said company. Would the company have the right to fire her? I think they would.

So, what are the limits of free speech, really....

In any event, a very engaging conversation. Good post XO. Made me put my thinking cap on.

Mari said...

re: Jools question about if a private company would have had the ability to fire an employee in the same situation. I believe they do because our Constitutional rights protect us from government interference. A private company has a lot more legal room to be intolerant. And I think both Kansas and Missouri are at-will employment states. Our employers can fire us for no reason.

I think I am at risk of becoming a boor, so I am going to stop posting. But I have enjoyed the dialogue. It is always refreshing when people are willing to look at the facts and examine the real issues instead of relying on their own personal opinion and spewing hate filled dialogue like I have read on the news sites. And the hate filled dialogue has been from the left as much as the right.

Xavier Onassis said...

Jools - You can thank Miri for this post. She made a special request and suggested the topic.

Miri - You're not a boor until I say you're a boor. If you have more thoughts on the topic, feel free to share.

Besides, you managed to accomplish something that's never been done on this blog before.

You got Jools to utter 3 words she has never used here. "You've convinced me". LOL!

She and I have been sparring in these comments for about half a decade now and I have never, ever, convinced her of a damn thing!

If anything I tend to make her dig in her heels. I have that effect on people.

Nick said...

heh heh heh

you said 'brownback'

heh heh heh

Joe White said...

Funny that a student who identifies herself as liberal was the one to use a homosexual slur to try to insult someone.