Monday, November 28, 2011

Get Used To The Future, Governor Dumbass


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.

7 comments:

Sarah said...

Wow. I got so angry on her behalf I saw red for a minute. Good for her for sticking up for her rights and refusing to give in to what authority says she must do. I hope more teens are this savvy when they speak out.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

The governement idiots just opened a floodgate of teens with strong thumbs and nothing better to do BUT complain. Have at it girl. Dat what you get when you is a dick and what is Calvin's number one rule? DON'T BE A DICK.

Sarah said...

ha ha strong thumbs! Too right.

Belle said...

I saw this on the news this morning and the Governor has backed down. Good thing.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

What a ridiculous story. Get a thicker skin, Governor!

Unknown said...

Good for her, and I hope there are many more like her.

Nathan said...

I have to say I've never understood the concept of the forced apology, which is very much in vogue these days.