Last Monday, Kansas high school student Emma Sullivan attended a speech by Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS), during which she published a tweet critical of the governor. In response, Brownback’s office reported Sullivan’s critical tweet to her high school’s administration, and the high school principal ordered her to write a letter of apology — despite the fact that this punishment is unconstitutional because Sullivan’s tweet is protected by the First Amendment.
Last night, Sullivan sent out another tweet — announcing that she will not obey her principal’s unconstitutional command to apologize to the thin-skinned governor:
Among other things, this incident highlights the incompetence of Brownback’s communications team. At the time of her first tweet, Sullivan had only a few dozen followers. Had the governor’s office simply ignored the tweet, it’s doubtful that more than a few people would have read it. Instead, they decided to intimidate the dissenting teenager by reporting her — and the incident blew up into a major national news story. As of this writing, Sullivan has more than 4,000 Twitter followers.
Team Brownback justifies its heavy-handed response by claiming that Sullivan’s original tweet — which said that Brownback “sucked” and ended with the hashtag “#heblowsalot” — wasn’t respectful.” Perhaps it wasn’t, but the First Amendment cares very little whether a persons’ speech is respectful or not. One of the Supreme Court’s seminal First Amendment cases held that the words “Fuck the Draft” are protected speech. And, while a public school student’s First Amendment rights are somewhat reduced, schools typically cannot discipline students for speaking out unless their speech is likely to disrupt the school’s learning environment.
Now that Sullivan has chosen to assert her First Amendment rights, the ball is in the school’s court. If they are smart, they will recognize that their attempt to punish Sullivan unambiguously violates the Constitution and save themselves from expensive potential litigation that they are exceedingly unlikely to win.
I have FINALLY found a powerful use for Twitter - to annoy and call out the douchebags in society on their douchebaggery. Gotta love that first amendment.
Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness
I forever stand vigilant to protect this planet from the myriad of forces that are always against us. Be it the octopus, zombies, aliens or the robots my team of human agents, and our feline allies, circle the globe in a never ending struggle for human freedom.
I learn all I can on every subject that interests me. I especially enjoy ancient history because in the past there are valuable lessons to be found. Also, if I ever get my time machine to work properly, it would be good to know a bit about possible destinations and what to expect when I get there.
I greatly appreciate beautiful design. Be it manufactured or found naturally I am fascinated by the process of invention. I am attracted to the unique, the strange, the haunted. I like to share what I find on this blog.
And not let us forget the 'Cephalopod Menace' who, if allowed to, would wrap their tentacles around all that is good and pure in this life and crush it until it remained no more. They are creatures of pure spite. Hate is all they know. Death is all they do. They are our most ruthless and determined enemy.
So we fight. Selena has the celebrity contacts, the cat is ruthless and without pity, Roosevelt's ghost has the experience and I do the wetwork.
Fighting for the future of the planet doesn't have to be a chore, however. We can take the time to appreciate all that is cool in this world even as we cut the octopus into bite sized chunks.
This is the reason there has always been and must forever be, a Cave of Cool. Be sure to wipe your feet before you enter.