Tweet Lands Teen in Trouble With Government

KANSAS CITY, MO 11/28/2011 -- Emma Sullivan, 18, of the Kansas City suburb of Fairway, said she isn't sorry and doesn't think such a letter would be sincere.

The Shawnee Mission East senior was taking part in a Youth in Government program last week in Topeka, Kan., when she sent out a
tweet from the back of a crowd of students listening to Brownback's greeting. From her cellphone, she thumbed: "Just made mean
comments at Gov. Brownback and told him he sucked, in person (hash)heblowsalot."

She actually made no such comment and said she was "just joking with friends." But Brownback's office, which monitors social media for postings containing the governor's name, saw Sullivan's post and contacted the Youth in Government program.

Sullivan received a scolding at school and was ordered to send Brownback an apology letter. She said Principal Karl R. Krawitz even suggested talking points for the letter she was supposed to turn in Monday.

The situation exploded after Sullivan's older sister contacted the media. Since then, Sullivan's following on Twitter has grown to about 3,000 people, up from about 65 before the tweet. She said she thinks the tweet has helped "open up dialogue" about free speech in social media..

"I would do it again," she said.

Sullivan has received emails from attorneys but is waiting to see what happens when she refuses to hand in a letter. Krawitz, her principal, told The Kansas City Star previously that the situation is a "private issue, not a public matter" but didn't return a phone message from The Associated Press at his home Sunday.

She hasn't heard from Brownback or his staff. She said she wouldn't mind sitting down and talking to the governor.

Sullivan said she disagrees with Brownback politically, particularly his decision to veto the Kansas Arts Commission's entire budget, making Kansas the only state in the nation to eliminate arts funding. Brownback has argued arts programs can flourish with private dollars and that state funds should go to core government functions, such as education and social services.

"I think it would be interesting to have a dialogue with him," she said. "I don't know if he would do it or not though. And I don't know that he would listen to what I have to say."

Sherriene Jones-Sontag, the governor's spokeswoman, told The Star previously that Sullivan's message wasn't respectful and that it takes mutual respect to "really have a constructive dialogue." Brownback's office didn't return calls or emails Sunday from the AP.

Sullivan's mother, Julie, said she isn't angry with her daughter, even though she thinks she "could have chosen different words."

"She wasn't speaking to the 3,000 followers she has now," Julie Sullivan said. "She was talking to 65 friends. And also it's the speech they use today. It's more attention grabbing. I raised my kids to be independent, to be strong, to be free thinkers. If she wants to tweet her opinion about Gov. Brownback, I say for her to go for it and I stand totally behind her."


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by TJ on Nov 29, 2011 at 09:01 AM
    I like this story. The girl shouldn't have to apologize, her mom said the right things, and the Gov. should not sit down with her after being disrespected that way. All of it is part of what makes this country great. This story should end as it now stands.
  • by Chuck Location: Tally on Nov 28, 2011 at 05:45 PM
    WHO CARES!!!
  • by Tom Location: TLH on Nov 28, 2011 at 03:12 PM
    Sounds like it should be BrownSHIRT, not Brownback.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 28, 2011 at 10:45 AM
    The Governor's office should immediately reimburse taxpayers the cost of staffers checking twitter and facebook for posts about the Governor. What a waste of public money, why isn’t this the real outrage?
  • by LIN on Nov 28, 2011 at 10:09 AM
    We lead by example. Remember: "you lie" - State of the Union
  • by Anonymous on Nov 28, 2011 at 09:57 AM
    While I agree that this student has a right to voice her opinion on any subject that she chooses, I think that her mistake was doing this on a school sanctioned and funded field trip.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 28, 2011 at 09:42 AM
    Fifteen minutes of fame, play stupid games, win stupid prizes, nothing to see here, move along, etc, etc.
  • by sad thing is... Location: tally on Nov 28, 2011 at 09:15 AM
    this ethically deprived chick used social media to "lie" and make herself look like she's all that and a box of chocolate too. So now she has 3000 plus "twits" waiting on her next lie.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 28, 2011 at 08:31 AM
    Get used to this type of bureacratic bullying--it will get worse...pretty soon it will be treasonous to criticize any governmental or corporate officials; when you disagree with one of these elites the truth maintenace police will be directed to you for "adjustment."
  • by Ann Campbell Location: United States on Nov 28, 2011 at 08:15 AM
    THIS IS FREEDOM OF SPEECH THE GOV. THE PRES. OR THE SCHOOL SHOULDNT GET INVOLVED ON FACEBOOK A LOT OF PEOPLE THREATEN EACH OTHER I DONT AGREE BUT NOTHING IS DONE ON FACEBOOK BECAUSE ITS THEIR FREEDOM OF SPEECH NOT ACTION AND THE POLITICAL POINT IS THEY ARE PUT IN THE PLACE TO BE CRITISID AND I AGREE WITH THIS YOUNG LADY SHE GAVE HER OPINION AND HER PARENTS IS STANDING BESIDE HER THEY RAISED HER TO BE A GOOD PERSON IN OUR SOCIATY THIS IS JUST POLITICAL AND I SAY FIGHT IT TO THE END IF WE THE PEOPLE JUST LET TTHIS SLIDE THEN WHERE IS AMERICA GOING (GOD BLESS AMERICA) THE LAND OF THE FREE AND I URGE ALL AMERICANS TO STAND UP FOR THIS YOUNG LADY SHE DIDNT BREAK ANY LAW ONLY SPOKE WITH FREEDOM OF SPEECH
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