Letters to the Editor

State spying

December 5, 2011


To the editor:

How can anyone be “offended” when caught indulging in the very offensive behavior of snooping and spying on American citizens? What is the governmental purpose of monitoring Twitter, Facebook and/or email for the name of “Brownback”? There are no justifiable reasons in a country upholding free speech.

Aren’t the behaviors exhibited by our governor those demonstrated by dictators and usually associate with thin-skinned, low-self-esteem or psychologically disturbed individuals?

He so publicly parades his religion that his incident begs the question: What was he setting as an example? Was this an example of “do unto others…,” “forgive seven times seventy…” or “judge not…”? It’s rather difficult to find a Christian tenet in his actions, isn’t it?

The governor should put the tax money and manpower that he is wasting on spying and harassment back into the school coffers. May he contemplate the shame that he has brought to his office and to the state of Kansas.


hujiko 6 years ago

Emma lied!!! Brownback deserves an apology for her slander!! Wahhhhhhh!


Armored_One 6 years ago

Yeah, the governor should win the 2011 Overreactment of a Politician in Office award, but spying?


Did you even look the word up in the dictionary before you started scribbling so furiously? The Internet isn't private. That, in and of itself, negates the possibility of spying.

If you don't believe me, Google your own name. You might be shocked at how many times your name comes up, along with various things you have posted online at one time or another.

The only privacy that exists online is before you click the 'Post' button. After that, you are fair game.

Armored_One 6 years ago

I said might, not definately.

For someone that purposely plays the word game with other people, especially when it comes to defending your stances from time to time, you certainly seem eager to do it to others.

Brock Masters 6 years ago

Every governor, since social media was invented, has had a person looking for references to them. Before social media and continuing today, Governors and other officials scour the newspapers for articles relating to them and what they are doing. Some hire clipping companies to do it for them.

So be outraged about government officials spending tax dollars on this, but don't pretend like Brownback is the only one doing it.

Aileen Dingus 6 years ago

You beat me to it Fred.

Everybody in public office, every company that does business on a scale beyond local... they all have someone who follows the news, social media- anyplace where the "name" can be found. It isn't spying, it's smart business practice.

What you DO with that information, however...

beatrice 6 years ago

"Every governor, since social media was invented, has had a person looking for references to them."


Even if it is true (and I just don't believe it to be), how many would bother to respond to high schoolers' silly tweets?

beatrice 6 years ago

Provide a source to back it up, that is all I'm saying. However, your personal history with two politicians is not enough to convince me.

Brock Masters 6 years ago

My source is my personal experience with sebilus's and parkinson's offices and their staff that did this work.

Other state agencies have twitter accounts - besides tweeting don't you think they are looking for related stuff too?

It is not like this stuff is out there on google, but ask around and you'll find it to be true.

jaywalker 6 years ago

Aaaah. Voices of reason on the LJW. Thank you to all that have posted thus far.

rtwngr 6 years ago

Does the letter writer know that the White House has a website where you can report someone making disparaging remarks on the social media about Barack Obama? Talk about "Big Brother."

Dan Eyler 6 years ago

It only makes it worse for Governor Brownback because he is Christian. This hopeless little lady is not mad about spying but the fact that he is a Christian. Many employee's will peek at your Facebook account before hiring just to see if your honest, truthful, or a blabber mouth. The more you know before you hire the less you will have to deal with after you hire. We just had a talk about this issue with other employee's and all realize this little teenybopper messed up and we also feel pretty certain that it won't be the last. If you haven't learned your lesson your going to repeat your mistakes. Her school principal tried to teach her that but people like this writer is doesn't get it.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years ago

Actually, more and more Kansans are mad that folks like you use "he is Christian" as a blanket defense, as a crutch, and as a way to claim victim status. You also use it as an excuse and as a panacea for all actions.

I suggest you consider Brownback as a Governor first, as a Christian second. You'll be sorely disappointed.

kernal 6 years ago

This little statement of yours speaks volumes, math.

beatrice 6 years ago

"The office of Kansas governor was shamed before Brownback occupied it"

Yep. That is why Brownback apologized.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years ago

If you have nothing to hide, live your life with integrety and honesty, then why would you think you would be a target? Those that whine the loudest about infringments generally are the most guilty. Maybe they should ramp up this so called spying and go after things like accepting disability, food stamps, welfare, unemployment and the such.

The ones I know that worry the most about their privacy are pot heads.

mloburgio 6 years ago

Twitter & Sam Brownback’s Fearful Authoritarians

If you think state government should bully high schoolers for exercising their right to free speech, that it has a right to poke through the medical records of women who’ve had abortions, that there shouldn’t be a separation between church and state, and you’re A-OK with the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity’s effort to wipe out just about all functions of the federal government that benefit anyone other than the obscenely rich, but you only hold those views when your party is in power, than your dream job is working as communications director for Kansas Republican governor Sam Brownback. http://rootedcosmopolitan.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/twitter-sam-brownbacks-fearful-authoritarians/

jayhawkinsf 6 years ago

It seems to me that one of the pre-conditions for having been spied upon would be an expectation of privacy. Those that use twitter or other social media have certain expectations. Is privacy one of them? As a non-user myself, I can't answer that question with any great confidence. However, from what I've heard, privacy is not one of the things people expect when using social media.

chootspa 6 years ago

Spying? No. Overreaction? Yes.

Lord knows I'm not a Brownback fan, but monitoring Twitter is easy, cheap, common, and smart. Hunting down the person who tweeted and threatening their high school unless she apologized? That's dumb. That's also something his PR person did, not him.

Now, let us get back to hating on him for defunding the arts, turning down federal funding, systematically destroying education, and working very hard to make sure his rich buddies get payouts while the rest of the state gets worse.

Kate Rogge 6 years ago

And in yesterday's New York Times article "Anti-Abortion Groups Are Split on Legal Tactics" Mark Gietzen, director of the Kansas Coalition for Life, is praised Ohio's proposed "heartbeat" anti-abortion bill as “'the most exciting thing that has happened in the pro-life movement since Roe v. Wade,” adding that a heartbeat bill modeled on Ohio’s would be introduced when the Kansas Legislature convenes in January.'" It is, sadly, impossible to avoid legislative interference by the Family Research Council and the American Family Association in Governor Brownback's theocratic administration.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

There's nothing wrong with Brownback monitoring social or other media for what people are saying about him. But it's not OK for him to seek to intimidate those who say unflattering things, especially kids.

jaywalker 6 years ago

Sontag informed the sponsoring group of the student's tweet. Oooooo! Intimidation!!!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

For what purpose if not to make sure that it doesn't happen again? And how do you make sure that it doesn't happen again-- intimidate the "guilty" student.

jaywalker 6 years ago

"For what purpose if not to make sure that it doesn't happen again? "

Right. Because Emma bought a season pass to the capitol building and had daily appointments w/ the Governor all lined up.

" And how do you make sure that it doesn't happen again-- intimidate the "guilty" student."

Nobody was "intimidated". Sontag told the sponsor. The sponsor informed the school principal. Pretty common sense natural progression. None of which screams "intimidation." A student was rebuked for poor behavior. Oh dear.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

But you fail to state any good reason for Brownback to say anything about it to anyone.

Once you stake out a position, you stick to it like a pit bull, no matter how silly or indefensible it is.

jaywalker 6 years ago

"But you fail to state any good reason for Brownback to say anything about it to anyone."

That might be due to the fact that Brownback didn't say anything to anyone. Ya think?
And as you've been schooled before, a common sense explanation for why Sontag informed the sponsor was because it was the correct thing to do. "Pardon me, but you have a student that's not representing your organization in a very flattering manner."

"no matter how silly or indefensible it is."

Then one would think you'd actually have just a little success in refuting such a position. Yet all you seem capable of is distorting facts. Pity.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"Pardon me, but you have a student that's not representing your organization in a very flattering manner."

Underlying message-- intimidate them so they (and anyone else considering it) don't do it again.

imastinker 6 years ago


You call this spying but aren't upset about Obama's extension of the wiretap law?

It's not spying if it's in the public domain. End of story.

Kirk Larson 6 years ago

It's not really spying, but is a little creepy. I'm sure he dreads coming across the hashtag "RecallBrownback" in large numbers.

Armstrong 6 years ago

This rant doesn't hold much water. Twitter is public access. Kinda like spying in Sesame Street

Carol Bowen 6 years ago

Was Brownback using homeland security equipment to scan Twitter, Facebook, and email? If so, that is a misuse of federal funds.

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