Monday, November 28, 2011

Kid Tweets That She Muscled Governor Brownback. Should She Be Made To Apologize? I Say YES!

Here is the story from the Associate Press:

"A Kansas teenager who wrote a disparaging tweet about Gov. Sam Brownback is rejecting her high school principal's demand that she apologize.

Emma Sullivan (twitter@emmakat988) told The Associated Press on Sunday that she's not sorry and an apology letter wouldn't be sincere.

The Shawnee Mission East senior was in Topeka last week when she sent a tweet from the back of a crowd of students listening to Brownback. It read: "Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person."

She actually made no such comment..."

Thereafter Brownback's Media hound found the tweet while searching the Governor's name. When she read the tweet, she contacted the school. The Principal got a call from the Governor's office, and had heart palpitations. He ordered the 18 year old woman to write an apology to help him with "damage control."

Our Question is: Should Ms. Sullivan apologize and for what should she apologize?

The kid claims to be liberal. Okay. She also claims not to like Governor Brownback. Okay again. She has decided not to write the apology...and every liberal and libertarian it seems supports her decision... NOT ME.

I am not being contrarian, I just think that there are some serious issues here that may not be affected by this young woman's right to free speech.

1. She was at a school function, representing her High School.
2. She lied, she said she told Brownback off, in person.
3. She tweeted, against the rules of the school at a time she was in class.

Now I want to make the following clear. If she had tweeted, on her personal twitter account at 3:30PM that she saw Brownback and wished she had told him he sucked, well then no problem.
That isn't what happened here. Here she was invited to meet with the Governor of her state.Not because she was someone who the governor would normally meet with, but because she was chosen by her school to go. While she was in the Governor's home or office, she took out her cellphone, and reported she told the man "He sucked" (Skip the fact that the statement is both juvenile and vulgar) in person. That was both against the rules about texting in class, AND, it was a lie.

Now imagine if she had said something dumber like she had assaulted or God forbid shot the man? Would that be okay?? What First Amendment line had been crossed? Isn't that still political speech? She is still saying she doesn't like the man. She is still lying. She would still be doing it on school time.

No, I don't agree that she is putting forth her opinion. I think she was going for a laugh, which is also okay as far as it goes, but the truth is, it was disrespectful not of Brownback (after all it goes with the territory of being a politician) but of the Office of the Governor. It was also a disrespect of her position as a campus leader of her school and all the people in it, including the few that may like the Governor, AND, she broke her school texting rule.

Now that doesn't mean she should have written a mea cupla, nor promise to help Brownback win his next campaign. It does mean that this college bound woman should show some understanding that: 1. The Governor of your state deserves your respect as the leader of the state and the choice of the people of your state; 2. You broke school rules and you are sorry for that, and; 3. That as a school leader, she has an obligation to represent her student body by asking smart questions, reporting accurately what was said and if she disagreed she had the right to state an opinion that criticized Brownback.

I am not asking her to agree with Brownback, but respect for our institutions is an important thing for schools to teach. The proper way to engage in debate is an important thing for leaders to learn. (Remember when some wingnut congressman yelled out at Obama during his State of the Union "you're a liar"? that kind of comment does not spur on the debate. It doesn't bring the other side into understanding your grievances. Saying Brownback "sucks" is just juvenile and frankly makes me think Ms. Sullivan is stupid. All I know is, she is entitled to an opinion, but you don't have the right to come into my house and crap on my carpet. Verbally, that is what she did. Her principal is right to demand an APPROPRIATE Apology. Not one that necessarily makes the Governor or his people happy, but one that indicates that the student understands where she went wrong.
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