An 18-year-old high school senior has been made to apologize to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback for writing a snarky tweet about him during a field trip.
“Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person
#heblowsalot,” Emma Sullivan wrote Monday while the Republican governor was addressing her school group.
Even though Sullivan didn’t actually approach the Brownback to make any such comments to him, the tweet caught the eye of his communications director, and it was passed back to the school.
From there, things happened fast: Sullivan was sent to the principal’s office, she told the Kansas City Star, and reprimanded for nearly an hour for the “not so nice” comments. She said she was told she had embarrassed her school and the district, and needed to do “damage control” with the governor’s office.
That’s how she ended up writing an apology to Brownback’s office, with her principal even giving her talking points.
Shawnee Mission East principal Karl R. Krawitz wouldn’t comment the matter except to call it a disciplinary action. He told the Star, “It is a school issue, a private issue, not a public matter.”
Despite the dust-up, Sullivan — who describes herself as a liberal — maintains she didn’t do anything wrong.
“I don’t regret sending the tweet,” she said. “It was harmless. It’s not like I was really fired up about anything he said.”
But Brownback communications director Sherriene Jones-Sontag disagrees.
“That wasn’t respectful,” she said. “In order to really have a constructive dialogue, there has to be mutual respect….It’s also important for students to recognize the power of social media, how lasting it is. It is on the Internet.”
In the days since the incident, Sullivan has maintained a heavy presence on Twitter, posting news articles about what happened and thanking those expressing their support.
Her account had about 60 followers before the tweet, but now has more than 1,000. There’s also a Facebook page with the tagline, “Support the first amendment” that has garnered more than 50 “likes.”
“I knew this day would come, but I didnt know itd be today
#makingheadlines,” she tweeted Wednesday.