There are plenty of reasons to be glad that you aren't in high school anymore. As full-fledged adults, we're no longer forced to write essays about the ATP cycle, running and swimming are strictly voluntary, and we aren't obligated to have a crush at least one member of a boy band. Another bonus: If we feel like making a joke about a politician online, the principal won't call us to his office and demand that we apologize. (Though, depending on your line of work and your employer's feelings on legalizing marijuana, you may end up out of a job. Maybe being all grown up isn't what it's cracked up to be.)
The Kansas City Star reports that last week 18-year-old Emma Sullivan of Fairway, Kansas took a field trip to Governor Sam Brownback's office and Tweeted to her friends, "Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot." She actually never spoke to Brownback and says she was just "joking around." However unbeknownst to her, the Governor has a staffer who monitors Facebook and Twitter for signs that little Lisa Simpsons are losing faith in democracy — or just badmouthing their elected officials.
Brownback's director of communication, Sherriene Jones-Sontag complained, "That wasn't respectful. In order to really have a constructive dialogue, there has to be mutual respect." Determined to spend the days before Thanksgiving persecuting a teenager for her sass rather than doing any actual work for the citizens of Kansas, Jones-Sontag contacted Shawnee Mission East High School principal Karl R. Krawitz, who proceeded to scold Sullivan for an hour, saying her "not so nice" remarks had embarassed the school and it was now time for "damage control." Sullivan says Krawitz demanded that she write Brownback an apology and suggested some talking points.
At first, Sullivan agreed to write the letter, but said of her friends,
"We all are liberal, and we are opposed to a lot of his views ... 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."
However, once she had a four day weekend to mull the decision, she announced that she wouldn't be writing the letter, which is due today. According to the Associated Press, yesterday she declared that it would be disingenuous because she stands by her opinion, and "would do it again."
Sullivan's mother, Julie, says she wishes her daughter had "chosen different words," but she stands by her because:
"She wasn't speaking to the 3,000 followers she has now .... She was talking to 65 friends. And also it's the speech they use today. It's more attention grabbing. I raised my kids to be independent, to be strong, to be free thinkers. If she wants to tweet her opinion about Gov. Brownback, I say for her to go for it and I stand totally behind her."
Though Sulllivan's point certainly wasn't put eloquently, it's absurd that Brownback's office needed to defend him against an 18-year-old who made a rude comment about him on her personal Twitter feed. Plus, though none of the major media outlets will come out and say it, all she did was state the facts: Brownback does indeed suck. Sullivan points to his veto of the Kansas Arts Commission's entire budget, which makes Kansas the only state in the country to eliminate arts funding and Brownback the living embodyment of Sue Sylvester. Plus, he believes homosexuality is immoral and has consistently voted against gay rights, and signed into law a number of insane anti-abortion measures in the state, including a "fetal pain" ban on abortion after 21 weeks and the attempt to make Kansas the first state with no abortion providers due to inadequately sized janitor's closets. To be fair, we've never met the Governor, so we can't confirm that "in person #heblowsalot." However, we're willing to take Sullivan's word for it.