Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is, by all accounts, safe and relatively unharmed following a harrowing Twitter attack from an 18-year-old high school student last week.
Luckily, Brownback has a brave and astute staff ready to snap into action at the first sign of an online trolling…
Emma Sullivan, a senior at Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, was in Topeka on Monday as part of Kansas Youth in Government, a program for students interested in politics and government.
During the session, in which Brownback addressed the group, Sullivan posted on her personal Twitter page:
Does anyone know if there are any al Qaeda sleeper cells operating in Kansas? Because I highly doubt that a high school student is capable of an act of terrorism so heinous on her own.
Don't worry, though. Sullivan is paying the ultimate cost for trespasses against her innocent governor…
On Tuesday, Sullivan was called to her principal’s office and told that the tweet had been flagged by someone on Brownback’s staff and reported to organizers of the Youth in Government program…
The principal "laid into me about how this was unacceptable and an embarrassment," Sullivan said. "He said I had created this huge controversy and everyone was up in arms about it… and now he had to do damage control… I'm mainly shocked that they would even see that tweet and be concerned about me," she said. "I just honestly feel they're making a lot bigger deal out of it than it actually was."
Sullivan said the principal ordered her to write letters of apology to Brownback, the school’s Youth in Government sponsor, the district's social studies coordinator and others.
Hopefully next time, Ms.Sullivan will think twice before exercising her First Amendment rights.
This isn't getting pepper-sprayed in the face, but maybe it's even more shocking. We can't even criticize our elected officials these days? (Only the Republican ones, I'm sure.)
What did they teach 18-year-old Emma Sullivan? They taught her that it's wrong to speak up, that she'll pay a steep price for exercising her right of free speech, especially if it's unpopular or makes powerful people unhappy.
They taught Sullivan to shut up, to be seen and not heard, to be, in other words, a typical American, apathetic and convinced that she's powerless.
Well, maybe the internet will teach Gov. Brownback that America is a democracy, that free speech is alive and well, and that the efforts of autocrats to undermine both will backfire.