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Monday, November 28, 2011

Kansas Teen has right idea, wrong tact

Emma Sullivan has the right idea.

Last week, following a visit to the Kansas’ Capitol City, Topeka, as a part of Kansas Youth in Government, the Senior heard an address by Governor Sam Brownback
The young liberal, instead of picking up a sign and protesting the governor, took to Twitter.  
Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot
Now, Emma forgot a couple of things along the way.
First, it doesn’t matter that you’ve only got 60 followers.  Unless you protect your tweets, they’re public. 
Second, it doesn’t matter if you disagree with someone, do it civilly.  Don’t say something on Twitter or Facebook that you wouldn’t say in person.
Third, you DIDN’T tell Brownback anything.  According to the Prairie Village Post,
While Brownback was welcoming students to the event, Sullivan tweeted:
Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot
She hadn’t, actually, said anything directly to Brownback. But the governor’s communications operatives didn’t find the humor in her meant-to-be-funny fabrication. They alerted the Youth in Government organizers about the tweet, and Sullivan soon found herself called to see (Shawnee Mission East principal Karl) Krawitz where she was instructed to write an apology to the governor’s office.
This is called fabrication.  And while your feelings regarding Brownback may be valid and justified, that’s not how things should be expressed. 
Now, if Governor Brownback’s people really DID jump on Principal Krawitz, they should be ashamed of themselves.  Doesn’t the Governor’s office have some more important problems to deal with than a teenager’s ill-thought-out Tweet?  And did they really rattle cages at the Shawnee Mission School District threatening funding if they didn’t get that apology?
As far as the School District goes, if they pressured Principal Krawitz to extract an apology for the Governor, then I may have to send back my diploma marked “Return to Sender – Refused due to lack of ethics on the part of the sender”.  If, however, the principal was free-lancing, then I am proud to be a graduate of Shawnee Mission West, not East. 
Now, the teen has been criticized for not being more specific as to what issues she and the Governor disagree.  Turns out, quite a lot.  The woman is Pro-Choice and is upset over the Governor’s moves in a Pro-Life direction.  She’s also upset over the Governor’s decision to disband the Kansas Arts Commission.  She says as a liberal, she disagrees with a lot of the things that have happened since Governor Brownback took office. 
That is her right.  But don’t look silly in the process.  After all, even though you’re a teenager, state your case with intelligence and class. 
The tweet just wasn’t classy.
So, in short,
Emma, apologize for the mean spiritedness of the tweet, but not the passion.  To not apologize puts you in the same class that you claim the Governor is.  State your case.  Your letter will surely get read by the Governor…and a lot of people, after you make it public…which is your right.  You have something that most High School Seniors don’t have:  A soapbox.  Use your fifteen minutes of fame to further your cause.
Governor Brownback, stand up for this young woman’s rights.  If you fail to act on this attempt to suppress a High School Student’s rights, the #heblowsalot hashtag will probably give way to something a bit nastier.  Perhaps #GovernorBrownshirt?  If it was a staffer, remove them.  If it was you, yourself, an apology is definitely in order!
Finally, to Principal Krawitz and the Shawnee Mission School District:  You are making yourself look like the most redneck school district in America.  Please, for the love of God, make sure people know this is a misunderstanding.  If you don’t handle this right – and right now – the voters will handle it sooner or later…

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