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Teen Tweets Insult To Kansas Governor, Principal Demands Apology

Submitted by on November 29, 2011 – 10:59 amNo Comment

Gov. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) states several times on his state website that he fights for smaller government. But apparently, he thinks government should be just big enough to interfere with the inside jokes of high school seniors.

Brownback made national headlines last week when his office complained about a tweet from 18-year-old Emma Sullivan, a student in Prairie Village, KS. Sullivan was attending an event at the state capitol with an organization called Youth in Government, when the attendees were addressed by Gov. Brownback. During the speech, Sullivan interrupted her excitement over the latest Twilight movie and Justin Bieber album to tweet the following:

Sullivan did not actually tell the governor anything in person, and says this was an inside joke with another student.

A staffer for the governor reportedly saw the tweet, and contacted Youth in Government. The organization then contacted Sullivan’s principal, who demanded that Sullivan write a letter of apology.

Sullivan has refused, and her local school board has supported her. Both cite the protection of her free speech rights.

In the wake of the uproar, Sullivan’s Twitter following has increased from 65 to over 9,500 as of Monday afternoon.

Brownback spokesperson Sherriene Jones-Sontag attempted to paint their actions as beneficial for teenagers, supposedly teaching them about respect in the political process and also the lasting and public nature of the internet.

“It’s also important for students to recognize the power of social media,” she said.

The governor’s office must have learned a lesson about the power of social media as well. In a complete turn of events, Gov. Brownback issued an apology on Monday.

What do you think? Did the government or the schools violate Sullivan’s right to free speech?

[via Politico]

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