People Are Awesome: This Teenager Asserted Her First Amendment Rights Against Her Governor People Are Awesome: This Teenager Asserted Her First Amendment Rights Against Her Governor
Culture

People Are Awesome: This Teenager Asserted Her First Amendment Rights Against Her Governor

by Cord Jefferson

November 30, 2011

When 18-year-old Emma Sullivan—a high school student from Prairie Village, Kansas—tweeted last week that that Kansas Governor Sam Brownback "sucked," she thought her words to her 60 Twitter followers would go mostly unnoticed. But then she got called to the principal's office.

Doing a routine search of the governor's name on social-networking sites, Brownback's communications director, Sherienne Jones-Sontag, found Sullivan's tweets and reached out to her school to demand an apology. Sullivan's principal acquiesced, and ordered Sullivan to draft an apology to send to the governor.

Initially Sullivan agreed, saying, "I didn't want to deal with it because I'm in the process of applying to school and am trying to keep my reputation good." But after a chat with her sister, a political science major at Wichita State University, Sullivan decided to tell her principal and Brownback that the deal was off. "I wasn't sorry for what I said because I meant it," she told Yahoo! News, saying that she disagrees with the Republican governor's views on gay rights and abortion.

Today, after digging in her heels against the most powerful man in her state for a week, Sullivan is getting an apology of her own. Brownback himself has backed down and says it's his staff, not Sullivan, who was in the wrong. "My staff overreacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize," Brownback said in a statement to The Associated Press. "Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms."

Fact: All the best civics lessons are learned outside the classroom.

Photo via Sullivan's Twitter page

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People Are Awesome: This Teenager Asserted Her First Amendment Rights Against Her Governor