Monday, November 28, 2011

"Not Sufficiently Deferential"

If there was a rule against using your phone during this speech, bust her for that. But just saying something negative about the governor? Quit trying to impose thoughts on kids.
A few days ago, her high school class made a trip to Topeka, Kansas, where Governor Sam Brownback gave a speech to several high school classes. During the course of the trip, Ms. Sullivan sent out the following tweet: “Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot.”

Ms. Sullivan didn’t actually make any critical comments in person, but the tweet, sent out to a following of about 60 people (though it’s over 800 now), somehow caught the eye of the Governor’s Director of Communication, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, during her daily monitoring of social media mentions of Governor Brownback. Shocked – shocked! – that a teenager’s tweet about a politician was “disrespectful,” she complained to the high school. “It’s also important for students to recognize the power of social media, how lasting it is. It is on the Internet,” she said.

The High School, in turn, apparently even more shocked about how kids these days don’t respect their elected leaders, scolded Ms. Sullivan and forced her to write a letter of apology to the Governor’s office. Sullivan wrote the letter – because she didn’t want a disciplinary action on her transcripts and have it affect her ability to go to college. But she is rightfully unapologetic in real life.
Obviously I'm against this compulsion on the part of the school, and some might wonder how I balance this with my agreement on the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case the Supreme Court decided a few years ago. The BH4J case involved public behavior, this case involves speech. Schools can proscribe behavior, but the bar for proscribing speech should be higher.

Update, 11/29/11: At least they figured it out:
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback apologized Monday for what he called his staff's "overreaction" to a disparaging tweet directed at him by a high school senior during a state Capitol visit.


Rhymes With Right said...

I'm going to disagree with you here. The Bong Hits case also involved speech -- and I can't see any more value to the lie this girl put out than the nonsensical message in the latter case.

What's more, she was at the program as a representative of her school, which makes her words much more subject to school control than I would think the Bong Hits case was.

In the end, though, I do not believe a forced apology is EVER appropriate --but do think the school is within its rights to discipline her because she was a representative of her school. Whether she ought to be disciplined is, of course, a different question -- as is the extent to which she should be.

Personally, I'm much more troubled by the fact that anyone in the governor's office would waste the time and effort bringing this stupid tweet by a stupid twit to the attention of the program or school.

Happy Elf Mom said...

I can see your reasoning. I think tweets are just as public as posterboards, however, and can reach far more people. The school can/should discipline her for her behaviour (this happened during a school trip, not in her own private time) but not demand an apology. I personally don't like liars, nevermind that her opinion sucks. :)

David said...

Extremely dumb of Brownback's spokesweasel. THis is not a monarchy and if Brownbeck can't take the heat he should get out of the kitchen.

If a PR person working for me did something like this, my inclination would be to fire him.

maxutils said...

Quit trying to impose thoughts on kids? What do you think she was doing when she tweeted negative comments during school time? Totally inappropriate. Also, totally petty for anyone to care.