Clamor erupts over Kansas teen's tweet about governor

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City teen landed herself in trouble by tweeting a few "joking" words about Gov. Sam Brownback during a Statehouse fieldtrip.

The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/thyVCP) reported that it all started Monday during Brownback's greeting to young people who were in Topeka with the Youth in Government program.

Emma Sullivan, 18, thumbed from the back of the crowd, "Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person (hash)heblowsalot." She actually made no such comment and described the tweet as "joking around."

But she soon learned that that Brownback's office monitors social media for postings containing the governor's name. Brownback's director of communication wasn't amused.

"That wasn't respectful," responded Sherriene Jones-Sontag. "In order to really have a constructive dialogue, there has to be mutual respect."

The tweet was passed along to the Youth in Government program. The resulting scolding she received at school that lasted nearly an hour. She said he was told the "not so nice" comments had embarrassed her school and the district and that "damage control" with the governor's office was the next step.

The principal even suggested talking points to hit in the apology letter she was ordered to write.

Shawnee Mission East principal Karl R. Krawitz called the situation a disciplinary action.

"It is a school issue, a private issue, not a public matter," he said.

Sullivan, who plans to study psychology next year at the University of Arkansas, isn't balking at writing the letter of apology. But she isn't repentant either.

"I don't regret sending the tweet," she said. "It was harmless. It's not like I was really fired up about anything he said."

She said she wasn't a fan of Brownback before, and his staff's response to her tweet isn't making her or her friends converts.

"We all are liberal, and we are opposed to a lot of his views," she says. "I'm just an 18-year-old girl who knows what I believe, and I know what he believes, and we disagree. That is not going to change."

One of the reasons for the Topeka visit was to give students a chance to draft and debate a mock bill. But Sullivan took something altogether different from the experience: "Twitter has more impact than I thought."

"But I'm sure the governor gets a lot of hate mail on Twitter and Facebook, so I don't know why his office would pick on an 18-year-old high school girl just horsing around with her friends. I was shocked. I'm still shocked."


Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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