Apparently, Gov. Sam Brownback sucks, at least in the opinion of Emma Sullivan, a high school senior at Shawnee Mission East, who posted to Twitter her views on Brownback after hearing him speak at the capitol last week.
Though the members of The Bulletin have our own individual opinions of the governor, we were united in outrage at the response his office had to her words.
Instead of taking the more mature “sticks and stones” route, his office decided on the “tattle-tale” option, which entailed contacting her principal and angrily informing them of the student’s words. Sullivan was then ordered by her principal to write an apology to the governor, which she refused to do.
This stirred up an enormous controversy. Sullivan was reprimanded for exercising her first amendment rights, and this should never be so. No one should ever be intimidated by the government or scared away from taking advantage of our rights as American citizens. It goes against everything for which our country stands.
Beyond the civil rights issue, it is further disturbing that the high school principal did not stand up for the student. Instead, the principal was either too afraid not to punish Sullivan, or was just as irrational as Brownback’s staff in their overreaction to the situation.
Though Sullivan’s words may have hurt Brownback’s feelings, it was her opinion. She wasn’t disrupting class or spray-painting “Brownback Suckz” on the side of the building. She has a legitimate first-amendment to her opinion. Just because she’s a student doesn’t mean she should have to hang up her constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door.
But Brownback has since apologized to Sullivan, recognizing that the first amendment is among the most “treasured freedoms” of Americans. Kudos to him.
Unfortunately, this incident has shown that Brownback was not keeping a close eye on the actions of his office – actions that have embarrassed him and our state.
And though we respect his apology, we would also like to hear an expression of regret from the communications manager who found the Twitter post and reacted so severely, or even from the principal, who should have seen the situation for what it truly was.