Youth in Government is a program intended to give teenagers an up-close look at what it's like to serve in the state legislature. Each year, teenagers head to their state capitol where lawmakers and staff give them a taste of what legislating is like.
One teenager got that and more. Kansas City Star:
And sometimes a few “joking” words can land a student in the principal’s office, drafting a letter of apology.
All that resulted from a tweet the Shawnee Mission East High School senior wrote Monday during Brownback’s greeting to young people who were brought in for a closer look at the political process.
“Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot,” Sullivan thumbed from the back of the crowd.
She actually made no such comments. “Joking around,” Sullivan says of the incident.
Brownback’s director of communication wasn’t amused when the tweet was spotted during the routine daily monitoring of comments on Twitter and Facebook mentioning the governor’s name.
“That wasn’t respectful,” responded Sherriene Jones-Sontag. “In order to really have a constructive dialogue, there has to be mutual respect.”
I guess it was the hashtag #heblowsalot that got his attention, because she didn't actually make any comments to Governor Brownback.
Yeah, but Sam Brownback really does “suck,” and really “blows a lot.” This is well known, nationally, and to expect smart young people in Kansas to be ignorant of this fact is to want children to be born without brains.
The Brownback administration basically tried to have this girl killed, for making a joke about a thin-skinned politician, on Twitter. And now her school has been forced to force her to “write an apology,” etc. Sullivan was already liberal (she’s intelligent), but Sam Brownback has probably forced her to become a liberal leader.
Moreover, there’s no question that the high school principal violated Sullivan’s First Amendment rights. Although public school students’ right to free speech is not unlimited, schools are generally only allowed to discipline students for speech that isdisruptive to the school’s learning environment. It is difficult to imagine how a single tweet criticizing a controversial politician during a field trip could have disrupted this high school’s ability to educate its students.
Moreover, because the school district violated Sullivan’s clearly established federal constitutional rights, she is likely entitled to have the district or the principal pay her attorney’s fees if she decides to bring a lawsuit challenging this unconstitutional disciplinary action. In other words, the district could be wise to settle this case immediately if Sullivan decides to bring them to court.
Oh, ugh. Let's not escalate this into a federal case. School districts are strapped enough, especially in Kansas. How about she just demands a letter of apology from Governor Brownback to frame for her children?