Letters to the Editor

Rude behavior

December 3, 2011


To the editor:

I did not vote for Sam Brownback and oppose many of his policies. Nonetheless, I find the recent admiration for rude behavior wrong. Emma Sullivan has a perfect right to tweet what she wants.  True, Brownback’s staff should have ignored the tweet. If a member of the national championship basketball team meets with President Obama and tweets during that meeting a similar type of remark “hesucksalot,” I suspect that university will not just say kids will be kids. There would be repercussions. If Ms. Sullivan despised Brownback so much, then she shouldn’t have attended the conference or she should have held her tweet for a later time.  

Members of Congress have always universally applauded the president when he enters to give the State of the Union speech, regardless of their political party. Recently a congressman was admonished for yelling “he lied” at Obama. He should have been admonished.  I thought principal Krawitz did the right thing, asking for an apology. Inappropriate behavior should have consequences. Ms. Sullivan will find that with her future jobs, if such behavior continues.

Brownback’s staff did not go to the media. They reported the behavior to Statehouse for a Youth in Government, which went to principal Krawitz. Marlon Brando was one of our greatest actors, but he lost a lot of friends by having a protester represent him at the Academy Awards. The venue was wrong for his actions.  


Ron Holzwarth 5 years ago

"Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude." - Maurice Baring

KayCee 5 years ago

And you get it wrong, it wasn't about 'suppressing free speech'. Yes, a lot of posters backed her for the kind of tweet she wrote. But I expected that from the 'kids at Lawrence'.

jaywalker 5 years ago

Nobody tried to "suppress free speech". How is it so many keep erring on that point?

beatrice 5 years ago

Because it isn't an error.

The principal first looked upon this as a "disciplinary issue," as he termed it. He wanted to discipline the student. Why? Well, the tenor of his talking points weren't just about her timing of sending a tweet when she shouldn't. It was about what she said in that tweet. By all accounts, this "disciplinary issue" was about the content of that tweet -- and that content, as silly as it is, is where the attempt to suppress free speech comes in. If you don't believe this, then ask yourself, what would be the desired outcome of this discipline if not the suppression of similar, future acts of similar free speech? Again, the discipline was not just for the sending of the tweet when she shouldn't, but about the content of that tweet.

Put simply -- you don't discipline people in an attempt to encourage similar actions. The discipline came because of what she said.

Make sense now?

jaywalker 5 years ago

"what would be the desired outcome of this discipline if not the suppression of similar, future acts of similar free speech?"

You're right. That's not an 'error'. That's delusional. Discipline is about correcting behavior. The girl's speech was not suppressed, has not been suppressed, nor was anyone trying to "suppress future acts of similar free speech." The discipline the principal was correcting was the student's decision to be disrespectful while in audience with the governor. If your ridiculous adaptation of the law were correct, then every mother who scolds her child for using the 'f' word is suppressing free speech.

deec 5 years ago

If gov #heblowsalot hadn't turned her in for the content of her tweet, none of us would have ever known about it. She was reported for her political opinion. Political opinion is protected by the constitution some of us like living under. The government paying high-dollar staff to look for disparaging opinions, and then reporting those opinions for repercussions to occur, is wrong.

jaywalker 5 years ago

You've conveniently taken the facts of the incident and warped them to fit your position, deec.

-Brownback didn't turn in anyone. -She was reported because she chose to be disrespectful while in the audience of the Governor, not for her political opinion (it's pathetic anyone can call what she tweeted "political opinion") -Brownback's office, like virtually every other politician's office, utilizes social media for business and marketing. They aren't simply looking for disparaging opinions. If they were, do you honestly believe this would be the only time we've heard of such a thing?

jafs 5 years ago

What a bizarre idea.

Her "disrespect" was in fact her political speech, and opinion - you can't separate the two.

It is political speech and opinion, whether you like it, or agree with it, or not, or find it worthy of discussion.

I tend to agree that it wasn't much in the way of content to discuss, as is much of our current political speech these days.

jafs 5 years ago

You have an odd perspective on this one.

Speech is also behavior - in this case, disciplining somebody for their behavior is also disciplining somebody for their speech.

And, it obviously will have an effect on others, which is what's intended.

"disrespectful" political speech is protected 1st amendment speech, whether we like it or not - that's why the Phelps' win their cases.

Your analogy is odd as well - a school principal isn't Emma's parent. And, swearing by children isn't protected 1st amendment speech.

Why are you taking such an odd position on this issue?

jaywalker 5 years ago

It's bizarre you find the position odd. There was not nor has there been any suppression of free speech in this case, nor any attempt to do so. That's my position.
A school girl acted inappropriately while on a school trip. That is what the discipline is for.
A congressman yelled "you lied!" at the President. His speech was never suppressed. But he was disciplined for it.

jafs 5 years ago

It's abundantly clear that disciplinary actions are intended to change behavior, of both the person involved and other people.

So, the reason for disciplining the congressman is to sway others away from doing the same thing.

If those sorts of actions have the intended consequence, it will be to limit speech.

jaywalker 5 years ago

NO!! Not to limit speech, but to halt the behavior of doing it at that moment, just like the student. How many reps have said on the record that the President has lied? Too many to count. Just don't do it in the House while the man is speaking.
Just like the student.

beatrice 5 years ago

Do you believe the principal's talking points to Sullivan to include in her letter to the governor's office were strictly about when the message was sent? Is that really why she was asked to send a letter of apology, to apologize for the timing of her tweet? Or was it to apologize for the content of the tweet as well? She was in trouble because of the content of the tweet, not the tweet itself.

Also, Wilson's outburst was just that -- an audible outburst. Sullivan's tweet was silent and unknown by those outside of her direct circle of friends until discovered after the fact by Brownback's staff. So no, the condemnation of Wilson is not just like the student at all. The two are not comparable.

jaywalker 5 years ago

"She was in trouble because of the content of the tweet, not the tweet itself."

As she should be as a student, a child, and a guest. But if you think the principal didn't center his rebuke around decorum and location, you're kidding yourself.

"The two are not comparable."

Only because it's inconvenient for your argument. Both were rebuked for their behavior. If the child was rebuked for her language as well, which we do not know happened, good. She should be corrected for something so immature and thoughtless. Nobody has told her she CAN"T say whatever she wants. She can do the same asinine thing in the future. Hopefully she's learned her lesson that actions have consequences, though. And none of them include her freedoms being deprived.

beatrice 5 years ago

A congressman shouting out at the President on the House floor during a State of the Union Address -- and a high schooler sending a quiet tweet to her friends are not one and the same. This has nothing to do with convenience. It is like saying a sneeze and actually having the flu are comparable. A little perspective goes a long way here. Remember, the President couldn't avoid the insult shouted by Wilson. Brownback's staff had to go searching to find Sullivan's insult. They are not similar situations.

I'm curious, how do you know nobody told her she can't say whatever she wants? It is very possible that during the hour the principal was lecturing the young woman that he said "You can't say that." He certainly attempted to punish her for typing what she typed. Punishing someone for using their right to free speech is an attempt to suppress that speech. You certainly don't punish people to reward and encourage their right to do something.

I'm siding with Brownback on this one. Sullivan was owed, and given, an apology.

jaywalker 5 years ago

"They are not similar situations."

Oh. So because Wilson was vocal, his free speech wasn't being suppressed when he was rebuked? Sorry, bea, but there's no stipulation for oral vs. written rights. The argument du jour was that the student had her free speech suppressed. That's not the case for either event. Any joker can yell anything they want during a House session. They aren't free from the repercussions. Same with any student, regardless the topic she chooses to be a fool about. If a student tweets in class about the teacher in the room and it's discovered, she'll be getting the same reprimand. But somehow she can't be reprimanded because she chose to tweet about a politician or it's a violation of her rights? That's simply ridiculous.

jafs 5 years ago

You seem to miss the very important distinction between protected 1st amendment speech and all speech.

Political speech is protected under the 1st amendment.

So, yes, a tweet about the governor, or the president, is different from a tweet about a teacher.

jafs 5 years ago

So should you be "in trouble" for your many instances of insulting and rude behavior on here?

jaywalker 5 years ago

The only repercussions we face here are expulsion from the board. If that were justified to date, then I'm sure I'd be gone.

jafs 5 years ago

So it's ok for you to insult people and be rude, without facing any consequences, but Emma should face them for similar behavior?

Seems a bit inconsistent to me.

What is it about this topic that gets under your skin so?

jafs 5 years ago

Again - bizarre.

Stopping somebody from speaking in a particular setting is limiting their speech - it's self-evident.

And, again, she didn't yell anything out - she tweeted her friends.

jaywalker 5 years ago

"Stopping somebody from speaking..."

....is stopping somebody from speaking. Did that happen in either event? No. Besides, people are "stopped from speaking" every minute of every day. Doesn't mean their rights have been violated.
And so what that she tweeted instead of saying it out loud? If your argument is that freedom of speech is being violated because the student was rebuked, how is that different from Wilson's reprimand? Any reprimand shouldn't be allowed because what she did wasn't vocal? You can't see a double standard there?

jafs 5 years ago

"No! not to limit speech, but to halt the behavior of doing it at that moment".

"Halting the behavior" of speaking is stopping somebody from speaking.

I think there's a distinct difference between tweeting something to your friends quietly, and yelling "you lie" to a president on national tv.

Should the consequences be the same? I don't know.

I tend to think that congressmen should be held to a slightly higher standard than teenage girls.

By the way, I didn't call for him to be censured either - that decision was up to the Republicans in Congress.

beatrice 5 years ago

"Should the consequences be the same?"

Yes. Neither should be elected into Congress as a result. (rolling my eyes at this comparison)

If any double standard exists, it might be because one is a high school student and the other a United States Congressman! All of the comparisons in this letter--a congressman in the House before the President, national championship athletes, Marlon Brando at the Academy Awards--are way off, because we are comparing these nationally recognized adults with an anonymous (until now) high school student! The only thing to compare a high schooler to is another high schooler.

More importantly, Sullivan's note was only discovered after Brownback's office searched for it. There was zero interruption of the proceedings. Wilson's offense toward the President was unavoidable. I doubt he would have been asked to apologize had he just tweeted his comment. (In fact, how often do congressmen send tweets during Presidential addresses?)

Discipline is not only to make someone pay the consequence of their actions, but to stop the behavior from happening again in the future. Stoppng behavior is a form of suppression, even if we are still discussing speech.

Brownback apologized. Jay, you remain on the wrong side of this argument.

jafs 5 years ago

I'm not jaywalker, and I don't know why you think I am.

Please re-read my post.

beatrice 5 years ago

jafs, I used your question, but was responding to jay. I know you two have differing opinions on this story. Sorry for any confusion.

jaywalker 5 years ago

"The only thing to compare a high schooler to is another high schooler."

No, because again, the argument here is about freedom of speech. If you're going to try and make that an issue with Emma, then your standard has to apply to Wilson as well.

" I doubt he would have been asked to apologize had he just tweeted his comment."

I betcha he would have had he done it while the Prez was addressing the House.

"Discipline is not only to make someone pay the consequence of their actions, but to stop the behavior from happening again in the future. Stoppng behavior is a form of suppression, even if we are still discussing speech."

Ergo, discipline in any form is a suppression of our rights? Brilliant. The behavior that needed to be corrected with Emma was the time and locale she decided to vent her "opinion." Period. If the principal chastised her for the language she chose, good. She should be reminded that such comments are unintelligent and not conducive to respectful conversation. But as many have noted, if she had waited 'til she was at least on the bus back to KC to tweet, we wouldn't be talking about this right now.

"Brownback apologized. Jay, you remain on the wrong side of this argument."

That makes absolutely no intelligent sense. He apologized - therefore my opinion is wrong? Lawsuits get settled out of court all the time because one side can afford it and doesn't want the publicity, even if they stand on the side of the angels and would win if they fought the battle. It certainly doesn't make the opposition "right" by default.

" Sullivan's note was only discovered after Brownback's office searched for it."

Stunning. How many times must you be reminded that the office wasn't searching for her particular tweet? It's intellectually void to continuously posit falsehoods because it props your point up.

beatrice 5 years ago

Stunning is to pretend I was saying that Brownback's office was searching specifically for Sullivan's tweets, like they knew who she was or something. They were obviously searching for tweets in general. They still only discovered Sullivan's after searching for tweets in general. That most obvious distinction does not change the meaning of my post in the slightest.

Your arguments are not propped up by attempts at being offensive.

jaywalker 5 years ago

"Stunning is to pretend I was saying that Brownback's office was searching specifically for Sullivan's tweets"

Sorry if I misread this: "Sullivan's note was only discovered after Brownback's office searched for it."

And I apologize if I offended you. Culmination of frustration at re-posting the same things over and over. Wasn't you, my apologies.

jaywalker 5 years ago

"Halting the behavior" of speaking is stopping somebody from speaking."

Perhaps. But that certainly doesn't automatically make it a violation of their right to free speech.

"I tend to think that congressmen should be held to a slightly higher standard than teenage girls."

Gee. Ya think? 'Course that's not our argument here, but rather abridging someone's freedom of speech.

" I didn't call for him to be censured "

Why on Earth not? I sure did.

jafs 5 years ago

Make up your mind.

First you say nobody was being stopped from speaking, then you say it's intended to "halt" the behavior, and thus stop people from speaking.

And, you're the one who keeps making the comparison - I'm just suggesting that the two situations are not entirely analogous, nor should they automatically result in the same outcomes.

Because although I believe in respect, I'm not a big fan of enforcing it through "authority" - that seems to be a clear difference between us.

I also don't think that "respect" should be used as a way to shut down dissent or disagreement, especially when it's used in such a one-sided manner - all of the people who have chastised Emma's behavior on here have been incredibly disrespectful to Obama, and/or other posters on here.

Such double standards aren't very interesting to me - if one is going to believe in respect, then they should apply it themselves, and if they criticize others for it, they should criticize all others for it, not just those they dislike or disagree with personally.

I criticize everybody for it, and urge everybody to act with better manners, more courtesy, and to refrain from insults and name-calling. Let's start with our little corner of the world first.

jaywalker 5 years ago

"Make up your mind.

First you say nobody was being stopped from speaking, then you say it's intended to "halt" the behavior, and thus stop people from speaking."

Gimme a break. I'm not getting into (another) semantic argument with you. Nobody WAS stopped from speaking. The discipline was to halt behavior, and though "speaking" is part of the behavior, it's the time and locale of the behavior that needs be corrected. As I've said if Emma or Wilson had not behaved that way in their respective audiences, we wouldn't be talking about it. Many politicians have claimed Obama has lied; many have said disparaging things about Brownback. There have been no hullaballoos about those because they weren't in front of the man. Which leads us to.........

"Because although I believe in respect, I'm not a big fan of enforcing it through "authority" - that seems to be a clear difference between us."

Wanna bet you don't? Ever not care for a boss? But you keep your opinions in check when in their presence, right? Authority garners respect automatically - that's what makes them an 'authority.' It might not be for the person in the position, but it definitely stems from that position or office.

As for the lecture, stow it, if you please. We've had this conversation before, and I believe you and I have had respectful conversations. If I get into it with other posters it's primarily due to history, I rarely shoot the first shot. That's great if you refrain, we're different that way. 'Holier than thou' is something I'm not interested in.

jafs 5 years ago

This will be my last response to you on this thread.

I find those who call for "respect" but then don't use it to be less than convincing in their desire for it. So when you call for it, but then act in ways that are contrary to that, I don't believe that you really value it.

You want to stop people from speaking in ways/places that you find distasteful, but for some reason you don't want to say it that way.

I'm not a big fan of "authority" - the fact that employees are intimidated by their bosses is not a positive thing to me.

It seems to me that you don't actually believe in respect, you believe in authority and control, or something like that.

jaywalker 5 years ago

Had to get in one more lecture, I see. Whatever.

Oldsoul 5 years ago

Insincerity does not equal respect, at best only its semblance---what too many Kansans are happy to settle so though as long as unpleasant truths can be denied in the process.

Too bad so many adults obviously agree with with Emma's tweeted views. Ideally one should respect authority, but it is obviously not always legitimate and so not really due much honor, especially in someone like Brownback's case. People like Brownback are likely only respected because they take such a punitive attitude no one wants to face the unjust consequences of being honest.

wdl 5 years ago

On the surface this incident, rates a who cares. But just below the surface a lot of things are going on. Because Sullivan is an 18 yr. old high school student many believe she is not old enough or educated enough or hasn't earned the right to make such a comment. Just another teenager speaking out before thinking. And, maybe thats true and maybe it isn't. But she possesses freedom of speech and expression like anyone else in the US. Just don't mistake freedom as protection. Others who may have an opposing view have the same rights. And those with power have other ways of expressing themselves to an even greater extent as Sullivan has found out.

As for Brownback & staff combing social networks for comments (good or bad) regarding public attitudes regarding our current state administration. And upon finding Sullivans post, and channeling that information to find her schools principal who felt that action was warranted to admonish Sullivan and show her the errors of her ways only illistrates she knew what she was talking about in the first place. Is this honestly how these clowns in Topeka earn their salaries. Just another way of saying how they are spending our tax dollars. Vote the Jack Booted thugs out!

Maddy Griffin 5 years ago

Geez! Get over it already. This was a kid, acting like a kid. That's what kids do. She showed out for her friends and got quite a bit of attention for it. Quit obsessing over the "rudeness" issue. Doesn't anyone find it disgusting that the Governor acted like a bigger baby than the High School kid did?Or that he might have bigger issues to worry about than what some high school kid thinks of him? "Welcome to Kansas, Please Try Not to Hurt Our Governor's Feelings"

Brock Masters 5 years ago

We have lost our ability to have civil discussions, debates and disagreements and it is hurting our country. The student has the right to say what she thinks in a manner she thinks appropriate, but while her right to speak should be supported her manner of doing it should not.

Look at the attacks on Bush and Obama - feel as you may about their politics, the debate and attacks should be on their policies, not on them as individuals. Look at the Republican candidates for president and how they ruthlessly try to gut one another.

Don't attack opponnets personally, attack their policies and tell me what you're going to do. Don't hurl vulgar comments at a public official; instead, use the English language to craft a scathing commentary on their failed policies.

And, in the end be civil so we can put our differences aside and work together. We can't work together when we view the other side as non-human, evil and our enemy.

David Klamet 5 years ago

Yes, absolutely.

Good ideas and concepts can come from anywhere. I remember a time, long ago, when I thought Rush Limbaugh had ideas of merit.

He used to have a phrase, "Symbolism over Substance", which I still think describes many things that go on in our government and our society.

But you don't win elections by campaigning on ideas or by demonstrating leadership.

Getaroom 5 years ago

It is going to get worse before it gets better, so sit back and if it gets to be to much change the channel.

Brock Masters 5 years ago

blackcopter wrote:"Yes, this is exactly the point. It does not matter who could see this tweet, it matters who Ms. Sullivan meant to see it. She was tweeting to her fiends. She was not going out of her way to be rude to the Governor."

This reply is not to defend Brownback, but only to point out the error of your post. Ms. Sullivan di mean for others than her friends to see the post. By adding the hash tag to her tweet she intended it to be picked up by people searching for "brownback."

If you just tweet then yes, it is intended for your followers (who may or may not be friends - this isn't facebook) but when you add a hash tag to a term then you are purposely putting it out there for other than your followers to find.

As for your points about intimidating those you agree with, etc, I agree with you there.

cato_the_elder 5 years ago

"If a member of the national championship basketball team meets with President Obama and tweets during that meeting a similar type of remark “hesucksalot,” I suspect that university will not just say kids will be kids."

What if North Carolina wins this year and the team meets with Obama, and during the meeting Obama tweets about Roy Williams that "hesucksalot?"

cato_the_elder 5 years ago

My comment had to do with Roy Williams, not Obama. I know it went over your head, but if you had a sense of humor that might have helped.

Maddy Griffin 5 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

beatrice 5 years ago

So is coming back under a new name after being "permanently" removed.

thebigspoon 5 years ago

So is going off on a tangent net related to the subject at hand. Don't you know that?

thebigspoon 5 years ago

So is going off on a tangent not related to the subject at hand. Don't you know that?

beatrice 5 years ago

Under which logon names have you said "libs have a very convenient selective memory"? You have never said it as "its_just_math."

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Members of congress are rude for their lack of respect to taxpayers and for laying off hundreds of employees for no reason.

"Members of Congress have always universally applauded the president when he enters to give the State of the Union speech, regardless of their political party."

You are not paying attention. When Reagan/Bush arrived all of that changed and rude behavior has since been the norm. When a repub prez is speaking the repub side breaks out into extended applause plus a few "hoots and hollers" as if it were a basketball game.

The unwritten rule of courtesy has hit the road. Ms Emma was quietly texting her compadres.

The larger concern over Ms Emma is the state government actively spying on comments made by those on the chat boards. How many tax dollars are being diverted towards surveillance of the chatboards

Millions across the country would never have known had the office staff not alerted the principal. Then freedom of speech was brought to the table as the principal apparently forgot about Freedom and Speech and expression. This man initially went beyond his authority.

Does the principal work for the governor? No. Are we not supporting freedom of speech? Maybe not.

Carry on citizen of the United States of America Ms Emma ....absolutely.

Tony Kisner 5 years ago

I could have been a contender, I could have been somebody.

John Hamm 5 years ago

The young lady was disrespectful and she lied! She did not say what she did to Gov. Brownback yet she tweeted she had. She does have a right of free speech but not to lie. She should be admonished - not for her comment about the Gov but for lying about what she supposedly did.

woodscolt 5 years ago

Only got no leg to stand on so only tries to manufacture an issue only can get behind. She lied, hitch your horse up that and beat it to death. Pointless. She made a joke to her friends and she and her friends understood the joke. You don't because you don't want to. You want to turn the whole thing into , well she lied so sammy's off the hook. Jeeze.

beatrice 5 years ago

She didn't lie. She was joking. Likewise, when someone jokes about someone walking into a bar ... they aren't talking about someone who actually walks into a bar.

bad_dog 5 years ago

If Emma lied, what say you about Brownback's campaign promises to create jobs and protect education?

woodscolt 5 years ago

I bet she's at least thankful she didn't come from the system that your a product of.

bad_dog 5 years ago

Does she truly smile at everybody she meets?

woodscolt 5 years ago

Once again for those of you who probably just won't ever get it, one last chance. Emmas tweet was intended for a handful of her friends. Probably mostly like minded friends at that. It was never intended to be scrutinized in the context the Brownback idiots turned it into. Take it in the correct context, not such a big deal

Secondly, those who confuse the president of the United States with Brownback, the governor, well, once again, not the same thing. Oh but if somebody did that to Obama crap doesn't even apply. Obama had no part in any of this. Brownback mad his own pile of doo doo to wallow in. Hope that wasn't to fast for you all.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years ago

" I thought principal Krawitz did the right thing, asking for an apology. Inappropriate behavior should have consequences. Ms. Sullivan will find that with her future jobs, if such behavior continues."

You are full of BS. This principal, feeling his imagined authority to control a student's speech, overstepped his field of responsibility. People who want to control the opinions of others, even school kids, are full of themselves and feel that their outlook on the world issufficiently valid to suppress and direct the opinions of others. This principal should have been cited for his obnoxious behavior in overracting to the idiots that work for the governer and operate a Big Brother operation at the behest of the facist governer.. (Do I have to apologise for referring to Brownbackwards as "facist"??)

verity 5 years ago

Ms Emma's mistake was that she didn't comment anonymously---unlike all of us who can call both Brownback and/or Obama any vile name that we chose with no consequences---so far.

beatrice 5 years ago

Spot on Jay? Hardly. Comparing an anonymous high school student with all of 60 friends on her twitter account to nationally recognized college athletes who may have twitter friends in the thousands is terribly flawed. Equating admiration for Sullivan's stand against the pressure she was under to write a letter of apology with the content of the silly tweet itself is also flawed. There are additional flaws in this letter, like equating a high schooler who whispered (electronically, that is) a stupid joke to friends when she should have been paying attention in class with the actions of a United States congressman who yelled out at the President during a State of the Union speech, for instance. This letter is full of flaws.

The writer even is in error by stating that Brownback's office didn't go to the media. Actually, they did. They went to social media to find the tweet in the first place. Had they not done so, nobody would have ever heard of Emma Sullivan.

The biggest error here is the notion that people are actually praising Sullivan for what she tweeted. Those would be in the minority. Instead, people are standing up for Sullivan's right to tweet stupid things. Admiration comes in over her decision to not buckle under the pressure of her principal and apologize for practicing her right to free speech.

beatrice 5 years ago

I disagree. I've enjoyed the back and forth with jay, particularly because we don't agree.

camper 5 years ago

What if this was a phone call? That would be pretty scary if you said something on the phone about a government official and were called out on it by an official. Pretty scary huh?

Now that we've established this. Lets establish the similarities between a tweet and a phone call. I believe this is a right to privacy as well as a free speech issue.

While I believe it is ok for the government to monitor social media for security purposes, Brownback's staff should not have even thought about taking the step they did. It was a Brownback staff member that was foolish, not Brownback himself. Has the staff member made a public apology?

George Lippencott 5 years ago

Some of us seem to have a problem separating free speech and inappropriate speech. The young lady is certainly entitled to her opinion. She might have expressed it a bit more intelligently. The Congressman who called Mr. Obama a liar certainly was entitled to his opinion. The way he expressed it certainly was less than appropriate. Both involved criticism of power.

IMHO it seems that the content of the speech is becoming more of a determiner of whether it is free speech or inappropriate speech. If we agree with it we do not seem to want to question the appropriateness (not accuracy) of the comment. If we do not agree with it we want is stifled as inappropriate.


I might point out that the evil "Sam" staffer also had a right to his opinion. The teaching point may have been about appropriateness and quality.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

As I said. If we agree it is fine. If we do not it is not. Anyone can find a million excuses!

The learning moment would have been to help the young lady understand that the comment should have been something a kin to "The governor spoke at length and said little of substance." The term she used may be appropriate for her peers but not for a senior elected official.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

Thank you for making my point again. "Evil Sam"???

Her school,. she was on a sponsored trip, is the focal point for the "teaching moment".

I also suggest that you rethink social media. Anything you post on there is available to most everybody and may never go away. .

George Lippencott 5 years ago

Personally I think the school erred. Also think the governor’s staff made an event out of almost nothing.

woodscolt 5 years ago

Interesting how you have appointed yourself the "be all expert" and final decision on what is appropriate language for this girl and her friends to use as they communicate with each other. I'd have to say your full of your own BS. But nothing new there.

camper 5 years ago

To me, a tweet is just a passing comment. Like something one might say in a phone conversation, while playing golf, while playing tennis, while waiting for your car to get fixed. This brings the requirement for etiquette down a notch. If she knew that a staffer would take it as a public statement, contact school officials, and demand an apology, maybe she would have said something akin to........appropriate.

It bothers me that a staffer would pick up on this and then go another step by contacting school officials. This is what public officials do in places like Egypt, Iran, etc.........not in America for crying out loud.

jonas_opines 5 years ago

"If a member of the national championship basketball team meets with President Obama and tweets during that meeting a similar type of remark “hesucksalot,” I suspect that university will not just say kids will be kids."

No, they probably wouldn't, which is why this is a terrible analogy. A member of a championship team would be, for that limited time, a very public and visible representative of their university, and eyes would be on them. An 18 year old high-school student is only that: an 18 year old high-school student. If a Regular member of a University was to tweet something disrespectful, then the University likely Would just say kids will be kids.

Ease your cognitive dissonance, and simply admit that this was unutterably stupid of the staff to pursue this matter, and that it is right for it to embarrass his office, even at the national level. You can argue you all you want about what this issue is, but a simple glance at the facts gives an immediate reaction to what it Looks like: oppression of speech even down to the level of the absolutely trivial. That they would not realize this on the part of the office staffers shows either an absolute disconnect with reality, a disconnect between levels of his office, or that from top to bottom the office may have trouble recognizing what should be obvious boundaries for action.

jayhawxrok 5 years ago

My only admiration for the kid was in standing her ground. She wasn't sorry she'd tweeted that to her friends and refused to make an apology she knew would have been insincere. If Brownback et al hadn't been on tweet patrol, nobody outside that tiny circle of 62 would have known about it. What bothered me much more was learning that in tough economic times when the Gov cuts funding across the state, our tax dollars are still paying his cronies to sit around and monitor twitter. Are there more monitoring Facebook, etc, all on our dime? I'm getting sick and tired of the Brownback for Brownback agenda...his crusade against Planned Parenthood that resulted in bringing in outside consultants and now we have to pay outside counsel from his personal right wing loving Koch Bros team. I didn't vote for Brownback, but nobody voted for the Koch Bros.

camper 5 years ago

Since when does a non-public form of communication like a tweet have to be appropriate? Since when does the Government of the State of Kansas get involved in determining appropriatness of casual conversation or communication?

It is hard to beleive that this story is even true. The staff admin is either stupid beyond belief or they are practicing, in a small way, the restriction of freedom of speech, and privacy intrusion. If society allows these small things to build up, sooner or later we can begin to lose our rights. On the contrary, I think this story is more about the "appropriatness" of the staffer.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

See above. Do you really believe that social media is non-public? If it were "evil" Sam's minions would not have had access to it.

camper 5 years ago

Yes. Social media is the way people communicate today. In my mind it is no different than casual conversation.

Unless something is tweeted that is threatening (same as conversation), the government and/or staff has no business pursuing an unfavorable comment. Let alone seek apologies.

woodscolt 5 years ago

Once again you fail george. The government puts their nose in peoples conversations and private business about anytime they want too. The social media networks just makes the task much easier for them. They have a new tool.

kawrivercrow 5 years ago

A more pertinent criticism is that she told a bald-faced by tweeting that she “Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person. #heblowsalot.”

She's entitled to her opinions and she may or may not be entitled to state them in a public forum, but she did not tell him anything 'in person' and she is not entitled to lie and say she did.

beatrice 5 years ago

We have already covered this. She was joking, not lying -- unless you call it lying when someone tells you about a guy who walks into a bar with a penguin on his head, because, you know, a guy really didn't. More importantly, free speech covers lying too.

kawrivercrow 5 years ago

"We have already covered this." meaning you lost the argument elsewhere, too? Sorry I missed it.

There was nothing in the tweet to suggest she was joking. You're only as good as your word. Clearly, her word is no good. It directly reflects on her character and her behavior on a school trip reflects on the school. Hence, the lack of apology reflects even more deeply.

BTW - Do you hold yourself to such low standards, as well?

beatrice 5 years ago

No, I can assure you that I did not lose this argument elsewhere. Jokes are regularly filled with exaggerations and scenarios that didn't actually happen. Have you never joked with friends and said things that if heard or read by strangers who don't know you might take it the wrong way? Remember, she wasn't reporting on CNN, she was tweeting to her friends, people who know she would never yell out at the Governor. By doing so, she learned a big lesson on how not private a tweet actually can be.

This leads me to this story: Two blondes walked into a building.

You would think one of them would have seen it there. (baad-a-boom)

This is an example of a joke that doesn't stick to the truth. There were no blondes out walking and nobody actually walked into a building. It was invented to inlicit a humorous response. Now do you see the difference betwen joking and lying?

To answer your question, I wouldn't send a tweet insulting someone because I appreciate the publicness of such a message. However, I am sure I have said worse things about elected officials in private and to my friends, so I guess my standards aren't really higher.

And you? Ever said anything nasty about someone that you are glad never was heard or talked about in public?

beatrice 5 years ago

Can we please stop comparing a girl's tweet sent to a small circle of friends with a congressman yelling out at the President during a nationally televised State of the Union address? They are not equal situations or circumstances.

What next, are we going to compare little Johnny's depiction of a flower in the gradeschool play with the acting skills of Marlon Brando? Geez.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

IMHO they are!!! Both should know better!!

beatrice 5 years ago

They both should know better is your argument for equating the two? That is like comparing a murder and stealing a pack of gum because they are both crimes. Try a little harder on putting this in perspective.

In no way, shape or form is a high schooler secretly sending a disparaging note to her friends during a talk from a governor comparable to a verbal outburst by a congressman directed at a president, which interrupts a State of the Union Address. Comparing the two is beyond laughable. What next, going to say that the photo showing Obama looking at Beyonce is the same as Cain's 13 year adulterous affair (oh, I'm sorry -- "alledged" affair)? Please.

One was something stupid tweeted by a high schooler about a governor who only found out about it after his staff searched social media sites, the other something shouted in the House of Representatives by an elected Congressman at the President of the United States of America during a nationally televised State of the Union Address that interrupted the proceedings. Oh yeah, those are the same (big.giant.eye-roll).

And Wilson used his outburst as a cause to raise funds. I don't see Sullivan asking for donations, which is something else that separates the two.

Jimo 5 years ago

"If a member of the national championship basketball team meets with President Obama and tweets during that meeting a similar type of remark “hesucksalot,” I suspect that university will not just say kids will be kids."

A) The high school student is not a public figure; a member of a national championship basketball team is. Whether one is a public figure has legal and civil rights implications viz-a-viz government.

B) College basketball players are not compelled by law to participate; high school students are. The high school student is under the direction of government; college students (let alone athletes) are not. Whether one is being compelled and controlled by government has legal and civil rights implications viz-a-viz government.

C) College athletes and their digitally are closely followed by the public; random high school students are not. Whether a negative comment comes to the attention of government depends considerably on the circumstances. Comments of public figures arrive without government seeking out personal conversations; comments of private figures must be sought out by a government looking into personal conversations. Taxpayers don't pay a dime for government officials to be made aware of the comments of public figures; taxpayers are paying dearly for government resources to be abused to hunt down comments of private figures.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

We can rationalize anything particularly if it is negative toward a republican.

camper 5 years ago

This is not about Republicans or Democrats.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

beatrice (anonymous) replies…

They both should know better is your argument for equating the two?

Moderate Responds

I view this very differently than you apparently do. To me both issues are about courtesy, mutual respect and appropriate conduct. The Congressional matter was purely political. The Republicans viewed that session as a campaign matter rather than an act of governance (right or wrong - they are entitled to hold that opinion). That particular Congressman let that get the better of his responsibility to show respect to the President. He was wrong! In the case of the young woman, it cannot be established if her actions were political. She was a guest at a function at which the Governor spoke. The governor is one of 50 in our leadership process and is entitled to essentially the same respect as the President. The young lady is a senior, meaning she is either already 18 or soon will be. That makes her an adult. She can vote. She can serves in our military and kill people. Making excuses for her inappropriate behavior is to encourage it. I am against all behavior that is boorish and divisive. Period! By the by, I suspect that the governor’s staffer is not much older than his protagonist. One young person posted something in a public domain (there is no possible expectation of privacy on social media). Another young person took offense and contacted a school official (it was supposedly a function related to school) and asked for redress. The school overreacted. The school should have dealt with the issue as representative of disrespect and boorish behavior and made a teaching point out of it. She has a right to dislike the governor but owes him respect as a senior political official and as a senior. The staffer has a right to complain. The school blew it. I am, tired of the frequent defense of poor behavior when it is directed at Republicans. A quick scan above reflects numerous oblique comments derogative toward the governor as part of a rational to justify her actions. The bottom line is that she was rude. We are entitled to be rude but those of us who would like to see dialogue a bit more productive would like to get away from that. More importantly, young people should not be encouraged to be rude to their elders or to senior officials. Your do not have to like someone to show courtesy.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

And why should I thicken my skin??? I am not a Brownback supporter.

I remain in my cultural norm where respect is shown to everybody as a starting point. I do not and will not accept that political differences are cause for a lack of respect.

And yes, IMHO, the culture is declining. I view it as a group of poorly educated people unable to express themselves within a reasonable bound of decorum using shock tactics to get attention. To me your argument about expression replacing substance is reflected in the young ladies comment and is not productive.

IMHO that is a spiral down to back alley justice. Some of us actually believe (your silver tonged comment) that civilized society is a veneer. Maintaining it requires great effort.

And I am older than you and if your expressed beliefs are to become the new norm it is time to check out before someone’s perception of expression leads to a “cross” burning on my lawn.

beatrice 5 years ago

I'm sorry, but do you not remember the defense of Wilson on these boards? His fundraising also went up immediately after his offense. He wasn't only defended, but rewarded for his behavior. Please don't pretend that Republicans are the victims of an offense that is somehow never returned to Democrats.

The bottom line is, a high schooler is not a Congressman, not a national championship basketball team, nor an Academy Award winning actor. Some perspective is in order here.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

Just a citizen responsible for her actions. Are you arguing that Congressmen are special and should rank above us all in their utterances??

Now I view the first part of your comment as political. I did not defend the Congressman although I did oppose some of the more extreme notions of retribution posted here. I again condemned him above. So what does that have to do with my comments on civic responsibility???

beatrice 5 years ago

I'm not arguing that elected officials are special (which is why they shouldn't take greater offense to being told they blowalot than any else), I'm arguing that nobody would honestly hold a high schooler up to the same standards as a Congressman when it comes to the things they say in public.

A Congressman is a public official, while Emma Sullivan is a citizen who has reached the ripe old age of 18. Or, to put it in terms you can appreciate: would anyone hold a private in the Army to the same standards for public utterances as a four star general? We might like to, but would we really?

Congressmen say things that sway public opinon and establish laws in the process. Anonymous high schoolers say things ... and then go get a pizza.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

Wow. Listen to those Congresspersons.

Now why are you off on Mr B? That is never been my issue. The issue is the young woman was rude. Period!!!

beatrice 5 years ago

Brownback's staff had to go searching social media in order to be insulted by the rude comment.

The issue at hand, which you disagree with, is that this rude high schooler (quietly sending notes to friends) isn't on par with a verbally rude Congressman in the presence of the President on national television.

Or KU winning the national championship is really the same as somebody winning a game of horse on the driveway among friends.

That is the issue I raised -- the hyperbole of comparisons to a high schooler's rude tweet.

ThePilgrim 5 years ago

"Ms. Sullivan will find that with her future jobs, if such behavior continues." Unless she gets a job in the media or higher education.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

tange (anonymous) replies…

... [ I was going to post a video link here, but you don't want to view it, anyway. ]..."Moderate Responds:

I check out many of the new media clips posted here. I also check out references to the older media. But

  1. I generally find it reflects the opinion of one person or a group of unknown strength - still opinion. I am sorry but I refuse to become a Lemming and follow "the group"
  2. Sometimes it refers to a study. I check many of them out. Many are not worth the paper they are printed on. I would probably tie more respect to an opinion voiced by one of you and supported by your own developed rational – kind of like your new media and new style argument above. Things have changed. The question is how productively are we using those changes.

Flap Doodle 5 years ago

Squabble Central is still on the air!

George Lippencott 5 years ago

Ok, the young lady was not really rude because according to the Brownback heaters on here 1. She was eclipsed by others in their rudeness 2. She posted on new media and we should consider that “private” 3. Brownback’s staff should not have looked for posts about him on social media (or I guess anywhere else) 4. She is entitled to be rude because it is free speech 5. List whatever reason I may have missed.

Balderdash! She was rude and wrong on that count!

George Lippencott 5 years ago

Absolutely. But you miss the point. We should not encourage being rude. I think way to many posts on here ae doing just that!!

AnnMar 4 years, 12 months ago

As often is the case when a student gets in trouble at school and their family leaks the story to the media because they are upset their child has been reprimanded many facts in this case were not known before the media spread the misinformation like wild fire. Two pretty important details are that the Governor did not call the principal demanding he have her apologize...and the principla did not demand an apology at all. All of this came to light last week after the release of emails that were published by NBC Action news....The Kansas City Star and a few others. Ofcourse a bit late in the game. The emails reveal that the notification went from Brownback staffer to a Youth in Government Rep, then to a contact at SMSD in the Social studies department. The final email released is Krawitz's to the Governor's contact affirming he did not demand Sullivan apologize and insinuating there is much we don't know (due to the student's privacy). This revelation has prompted at least one apology to Krawitz from Garrett Epps of Atlantic Monthly.

From the KC Star It turns out one of teen tweeter Emma Sullivan’s original claims - that her principal was forcing her to apologize for an offensive tweet last month about Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback - wasn’t true.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.