It’s not only Barack Obama and the economy that “sucks” right now. Occupy Wall Street protesters “suck” too. So does the Mainstream Media and the Democrat Party. And, according to one high school teenager, Emma Sullivan, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback sucks.
When Emma made the comment “Sam Brownback Sucks” on her Twitter account during a Youth in Government program where she actually saw Sam Brownback in person, it immediately sent a firestorm of controversy flying through the internet at lightning speed. In no time Brownback’s staff, which continuously monitors Twitter for any remarks about Sam Brownback, were reading Emma’s tweet. It must have knocked them off their chairs. And after they were reseated, composed, and having taken a few deep breaths, they contacted the Youth in Government program, which set into motion what otherwise should have remained irrelevant.
Emma’s wrath has caused great upheaval, turmoil and disruption both to Sam Brownback’s staff and to Emma’s high school principal, Karl R. Krawitz. He has attempted to force Emma into writing an apology letter to Sam Brownback. (Doesn’t it “suck” when a high school principal uses their authority to intimidate students?)
Very suspicious was Krawitz’s demand that Emily include “talking points” in her apology letter to Brownback, and it ought to be investigated by the school board. Demanding an apology letter may be forgiven. However, what Emma writes ought to be for her benefit, not her principal’s.
Call Karl’s abuse of authority “sucking up” to Sam Brownback or “brown-nosing” Brownback, perhaps vying to score political points or political favor down the road. “Remember me, Governer,” we can hear Karl saying. “I was the principal that stood up for you. Now, what’s in it for me?” Emma has, as of now, steadfast refused to write such an apology.
Principals do have a right to enforce certain rules within the school itself. And if Emma had come to school wearing a shirt that said “Sam Brownback sucks”, there may have been grounds to have Emma cover it up or be sent home. However, because Emma made the comment “Sam Brownback sucks” on her own Twitter account, and because it was a mild, non threatening insult, and because, presumably, Brownback is an adult, the “Sam Brownback sucks” comment should have been left to absorb and disappear into the millions of other tweets coming in to Twitter on a daily bases.
American citizens still have freedom of speech. We understand there are some limits; and those of us with moral stamina respect those limits. However, tweeting “Sam Brownback sucks”, while it may be disrespectful, threatens no one. Politicians have been called worse – much worse in the past, and in the distance past. Remember the Sedition Act? Those politicians with a backbone can brush aside insults hurled at them, as more self conscious politicians will easily crumble and fall apart. We don’t yet know which one Sam Brownback is.
This has become another example of politicians making too much of an issue they ought to have left alone. This tweet ought to have been left to float away into Twitter oblivion. That is too late. Sam Brownback needs to respond publicly with his take on Emma’s tweet. Emma’s principal needs to respond publicly with why he feels he is right to coerce Emily into apologizing. Emma needs to respond publicly, aside from her refusal to write an apology to Brownback, and explain what she meant by her “Sam Brownback sucks” Twitter comment.
Indeed, if Sam Brownback has any courage, (which, as a Republican, he damn well ought to) he ought to acknowledge Emma’s right, and the right of all of us, to confront our politicians and denounce them in a non threatening manner. Then, he ought to challenge Emily to explain her remark. In particular, what she feels he is guilty of saying or doing. This might be, after-all, nothing more than a teenager acting without thinking; a teenager tweeting something to her friends in an attempt to impress them. This might very well be an opportunity for Sam Brownback to educate Emma. Without such responses we will never know.
That is a problem. As Americans, we take freedom of speech for granted. We assume we can say anything we want, and often we do. Most of the time what we say leaves not an echo of an imprint. Often, however, remarks cross the line. Whether they do or don’t, there is always someone, some group or organization, looking to take away our freedom, including freedom of speech. Because of Emma’s innocent “Sam Brownback sucks” comment; because a principal has already demanded she apologize; because Sam Brownback has not yet waved it off – anyone seeking to tear apart our freedom of speech will use this incident as another example of why our freedom of speech needs to be more heavily regulated.
Sam Brownback – do the right thing. Publicly wave off the “Sam Brownback sucks” comment or challenge it. Emma – do the right thing. Publicly respond to why you feel your governor “sucks” or admit it was nothing more than a childish attempt to impress your friends. Sam Brownback’s staff – do the right thing. In the future, don’t waste taxpayers money by escalating what is essentially nothing into something more than it was ever meant to be. Principal Karl – do the right thing. Stop abusing your authority as a high school principal and use better judgement to solve problems rather than trying to score political points. And – leave the “talking points” to politicians and political pundits.
And to every politician – leave freedom of speech alone. Unless it is meant to seriously harm or threaten someone, it is still our Constitutional right to say anything we want. Including “Sam Brownback sucks”.