Archive for Monday, November 28, 2011

Brownback apologizes for overreacting to student’s tweet

Gov. Sam Brownback, right, said his staff overreacted to a disparaging tweet from 18-year-old Emma Sullivan, left.

Gov. Sam Brownback, right, said his staff overreacted to a disparaging tweet from 18-year-old Emma Sullivan, left.

November 28, 2011, 12:05 p.m. Updated November 28, 2011, 3:04 p.m.


— Facing ridicule on a national level, Gov. Sam Brownback on Monday issued an apology, saying his staff overreacted to a disparaging tweet about him written by a high school student.

Last week, Brownback’s staff, which monitors social media such as Facebook and Twitter, complained about a tweet written by Shawnee Mission East senior Emma Sullivan, 18.

That led to a trip to the principal’s office for Sullivan, who was scolded and told to write letters of apology.

What followed was a national fire storm, much of it critical of Brownback and the principal, Karl Krawitz. Brownback was accused of trying to intimidate a youngster, abridge freedom of speech, wasting taxpayer dollars by monitoring what was written about him and being paranoid.

On Monday, Brownback’s office released a prepared statement.

“My staff overreacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms,” Brownback said.

The incident began last week when Sullivan was among a group of students at the Statehouse for a Youth in Government program.

Brownback, a Republican, was addressing the group. Sullivan, who describes herself as a Democrat and who recently registered to vote, tweeted from her cellphone, “Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot.”

Shawnee Mission East senior Emma Sullivan, 18, tweeted on Sunday that she did not intend to apologize. On Monday, Gov. Brownback apologized for overreacting.

Shawnee Mission East senior Emma Sullivan, 18, tweeted on Sunday that she did not intend to apologize. On Monday, Gov. Brownback apologized for overreacting.

She actually did not say that, and later said she was “just joking with friends.”

When the governor’s office saw the tweet during monitoring of social media comments, it was reported to Youth in Government officials.

Brownback’s spokeswoman, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, said at the time, “It was important for the organization to be aware of the comments their students were making. It’s also important for students to recognize the power of social media, how lasting it is. It is on the Internet.”

She added of Sullivan’s tweet, “That wasn’t respectful. In order to really have a constructive dialogue, there has to be mutual respect.”

Sullivan said she landed in the principal’s office for nearly an hour and was told she had embarrassed her school and district. Principal Krawitz told her to write a letter of apology. At first Sullivan said that she would but that she wasn’t sorry. Then she refused to apologize, and the Shawnee Mission school district earlier Monday issued a statement saying she didn’t have to.

“The district acknowledges a student’s right to freedom of speech and expression is constitutionally protected,” the district’s statement said, adding, “The issue has resulted in many teachable moments concerning the use of social media.”

On Monday, it was Brownback who was apologizing.

In his statement, Brownback said, “I enjoyed speaking to the more than 100 students who participated in the Youth in Government Program at the Kansas Capitol. They are our future.

“I also want to thank the thousands of Kansas educators who remind us daily of our liberties, as well as the values of civility and decorum. Again, I apologize for our over-reaction.”

The “overreaction” certainly added to Sullivan’s popularity. Before the incident, she had about 65 Twitter followers. By mid-afternoon Monday, she had more 10,000, or more than three times as many as Brownback.

For Brownback, it was the second time in less than three weeks he has suffered an embarrassing incident.

On Nov. 7, Brownback held a news conference to introduce Jim Mann as his new chief information technology officer. The next day, Mann resigned under pressure after it was discovered he had listed on his resume a degree he received from a diploma mill. Brownback had conceded his staff did not look into Mann’s educational background.


prospector 5 years ago

Take Sherriene to the woodshed!

stevewonder 5 years ago

Take Brownback to the Woodshed! America's not commie China, Governor--Love America or Leave it, Brownback!

Daniel Dicks 5 years ago

Here's Governor HeBlowsALot His reputation's kind of shot Is for free speech? No he's not He's Governor HeBlowsALot

Emma tweeted to some friends But that's not where our story ends She was told to make amends But fascism does this portend.

We still have free speech (if barely) Brownback's simply not aware, he Told Emma "Make nice or we Will make things very hard for thee".

Exactly how does Brownback blow? I'm so glad you'd like to know! He's not that famous yet and so It's off to Google I will go.

Wikipedia says that he Is anti-choice for you and me And Kansas has no arts agency (The only state like that, you see).

Perry gathered folks to pray Only Brownback showed that day All other pols just stayed away What else do I have to say?

Brownback thinks a flat tax is fair (It hurts the poor, but he don't care) If you're in Kansas please beware 'Cause Brownback is the gov'nor there.

So, we see Emma was right And we hope she wins her fight Casting Brownback in the light. Will surely bring us much delight


Lana Christie-Hayes 5 years ago

he may have too much time on his hands.. but I LOVE the way he spends it! right on Bushloather!!! lol

Beate Williams 5 years ago

Excellent job. I enjoyed it very much.

Ewok79 5 years ago

I'm sure they'll save this one for next season

CreatureComforts 5 years ago

Doubtful. By then, nobody outside of Kansas will even remember this happened.

pusscanthropus 5 years ago

Hey guv, you need to get rid of Jones-Scumbag. OH...on second though, keep her and let her continue to make (more of) a fool of you.

SpicePirate 5 years ago

I love all the "they"s and the "our", in regards to the overreaction. The DB can't even own up to being a creepy *&^%head.

Cait McKnelly 5 years ago

That was my very first thought when I saw the headline. He blinked.

ignatius_j_reilly 5 years ago

As someone who has been a constant critic of Brownback, on this issue and others, I must say this is surprising coming from him, and it's a welcome gesture.

That said, it may haven't been an option, given the amazing Internet feedback to this.

Publications that have picked up this story, besides the local media: Slate, Salon, ABC, Miami Herald, AP, Washington Post, CNN, Politico, NPR, The Atlantic, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Forbes, CBS, New York Daily News.

ignatius_j_reilly 5 years ago

Did you come up with Faux News yourself? Good one!

Also, you neglected to mention that I missed the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Comedy Central, and the Daily Beast. Any reason you decided not to?

Anyone who says "Faux News" -- and no, I never voluntarily watch Fox -- probably has their head up MSNBC/Daily Kos's rear end. If you ask me, political extremists on both sides are the reason America's where it's at today. I hope both sides nothing but the worst!

chootspa 5 years ago

Anyone who says "Faux News" probably has a good grasp of reality. Multiple surveys show that their viewers are misinformed on facts. Stating the obvious doesn't mean that viewers of MSNBC can't also be misinformed. In fact, TV viewers in general are misinformed. It's just that Fox takes the cake.

kochmoney 5 years ago

Popularity does not necessarily indicate quality, and it certainly doesn't indicate accuracy or journalistic integrity in the case of Fox News.

Terry Sexton 5 years ago

He took the shortest path away from the painted corner he was in. He can blame his his staff, but it's his policy that enabled this fiasco.

somedude20 5 years ago

of all the things to be sorry about! be sorry to the hundreds, if not thousands of people (little cute babbies, cute old people, small puppies) that will die, become sick or homeless due to your policies

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Even though Brownback is responsible for whatever his staff does on his behalf, he likely didn't have any prior knowledge of how they reacted to this tweet.

So to be fair, we have to give credit where it's due. Brownback did the right thing here. Let's hope he and his staff learned something from this.

coloradoan 5 years ago

Actually, he did. He blamed his staff. Way to man up.

hyperinflate 5 years ago

Count another one in the "agree" column. It's totally mystifying that someone who has been in politics as long as Brownback could let it get this far out of hand. But I won't let this pass without mentioning how tremendously funny it was that Savior Sam blinked.

bklonnie 5 years ago

Agreed. However, he holds the power. If he were smart, he would have stepped in and squashed this right away. He only issued the apology once it blew up to the national level.

jafs 5 years ago


On reflection, I imagine that the refusal of the girl to apologize, and the interest from some lawyers in the case scared him.

Very bad pr for him if he didn't do something like this now.

meggers 5 years ago

Call me a cynic, but I think it was nothing more than damage control. If the story had not gone national, I don't think Ms. Sullivan would have seen an apology. He knows he can get away with a certain amount of ...well, unorthodox stuff in this state, without major political repercussions. When something like this goes national, that's another story altogether. I still think he has presidential (or at least VP) aspirations, so allowing this story to continue without admitting that his administration screwed up would not have been in his best interest. And even though he has a stronghold in Kansas, I'm sure even a lot of the people who voted for him don't particularly like being the butt of a national joke.

Not that his actual policies aren't worthy of national scrutiny, but this little episode revealed some disturbing things about Brownback's political tactics- things that were never intended to be made public.

ivalueamerica 5 years ago

In general, I agree with Bozo here as well with the singular caveat that Brownback has created a staff of people to reflect his values and opinions.

Beate Williams 5 years ago

His staff also wrote the apology...he didn't do it; " a prepared statement..."

Jan Rolls 5 years ago

Whatever happened to "the buck stops here?" So all the things he has messed up so far he can blame his staff? What kind of logic is that?

jafs 5 years ago

It's been a long time since Truman was president.

Plausible deniability seems to be the new way for politicians to operate.

woodscolt 5 years ago

"The part I'm most nervous about is going back to school and facing him." Emma Sullivan

This is the best way to deal with these bullys. You are in the right and to apologize because the bullys have demanded it is pure BS on brownbacks part. Your principal is a coward for not sticking up for you. The guv and the principle are going to get tarred and feathered in the peoples court. If they chose to make it rough on you for your decision, you may be harmed in the short term but they will loose in the long run. You will come out on top because you are in the right. Hold your ground on this one. I predict your the one who gets the apology. november 27, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Jan Rolls 5 years ago

I guess he never heard of the phrase "The buck stops here." I guess someone had to explain freedom of speech to him. Very funny watching the story on CNN this morning. So bottom line has he disbanded the "tweet patrol" or will he continue to gather names for his "hit" list.

kansanjayhawk 5 years ago

I have always taught my children to respect the office that is being represented. No matter who is currently the President we show respect to that person because we respect the office of the presidency. The same, of course, applies here to the office of Governor and one would hope that the school and the girls parents communicate that to her. We lower our own discourse when we simply attack the other person not based upon any issue any argument. We need to teach our youth to show respect for all of our leaders, even if, sometimes they do not seem to earn the respect.
P.S. I think Governor Brownback is doing a fine job representing Kansans who hold conservative values and beliefs!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"We lower our own discourse when we simply attack the other person not based upon any issue"

Well, there was an issue in this case, but, thankfully, Brownback did the right thing.

ignatius_j_reilly 5 years ago

As a conservative, I must disagree and wonder where you fall on the Tea Party / Kool-Aid line. Brownback only espouses Brownback. Even from the perspective of a selfish conservative, let me say that the man gives liberals tons of ammunition to avoid electing Republicans as governor for a decade. He's a Bush, a step backward, an embarrassment.

Respecting people shows maturity, and we need more of both in this world. But respect ain't no legal requirement. That a high school girl should be pressured into apologizing for giving an opinion, any opinion at all -- and in this case a very minor, Tweeted-to-60-friends opinion, with zero threats or calls to action -- shows no respect to the representative nature of politics or to Brownback's own stature and power.

A person in power has more responsibility, and in this case, it means being the bigger man. It's my guess that you wish you could defend your man a little better, but he left you in a pretty undefendable position.

keith horinek 5 years ago

My thoughts as well. This girl has no respect for brownback or the office of the governor or her school principle. Brownback took the high road and let her off the hook. Immaturity got the best of her, life teaches hard lessons and her attitude will come with a high price some day. I'm not sure she learned that from this event, but someday she will.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years ago

But the emperor has no clothes! We must tell him, Zapatos de la Chuchería dos! None of the entities mentioned automatically deserve respect. I agree to disagree about that.

woodscolt 5 years ago

"This girl has no respect for brownback or the office of the governor or her school principle."

To have no respect for Brownback is understandable because he commands none by virtue of his behavior. Respect can be granted until actions prove it is not warranted in which case it can be rescinded. Both the actions of the principal and brownback , as adults, needed to be in a manner that commanded respect and they didn't. The principal acted selfishly and earned the nations response. As for saying this girl has no respect for the office of governor is just wrong on your part. I bet she had respect for Sebelius, who commanded respect for herself as well as the office.

esteshawk 5 years ago

Hook? What hook was she on? And do not confuse lack of respect for Brownie for lack of respect for the office. Just because someone holds an "Office" does not mean you need to respect the person. And the aid who claims there must be mutual respect for meaningful dialogue? Ridiculous rhetoric that basically means "shut up if you don't agree with my extreme right wing political views."

beatrice 5 years ago

kjh, I absolutely agree. People should respect the office of elected officials. They should. However, that doesn't always happen, not by young people and certainly not by many people old enough to know better. People use their right to free speech to say all sorts of terrible things about elected officials and it is often personal and repugnant. Terrible things are said, yet they have that right. That is the point. You don't have to agree with her comment, but you should be willing to defend her right to say it. That is part of what this whole story is about.

Nice to know you think Brownback is doing a fine job, which includes his spending tax dollars to monitor the tweets of high schoolers -- the other part of this story. Many see that as a waste of tax dollars.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years ago

We've created too MANY offices! There is NO way to respect them all or that fact!~)

thebigspoon 5 years ago

A disparity there, kjh: "respect the office" does not equate to "show respect to that person". The office is the reason the person is there, and if he/she shows no respect for the office, he/she deserves no respect. I agree with your idea, and agree wholeheartedly, but respecting Brownback is a whole other deal than respecting the Office of the Governor of the State of Kansas. The person must earn respect, as his Director of Communications so ingenuously pointed out, and this governor has wholly failed in that regard. His apology should be graciously accepted, but his conduct in office belies the truth of what he said.

XEPCT 5 years ago

Aye! Sir Brownblowsalotback, arise!

Amy Heeter 5 years ago

Thanks Sam, now we can all forget this.

Paul R Getto 5 years ago

kansanjayhawk (anonymous) says… "I have always taught my children to respect the office......P.S. I think Governor Brownback is doing a fine job representing Kansans who hold conservative values and beliefs!" ==== Good points. Would that Muscular Sam were a conservative. He passed that marker long ago when he joined up with the C-Street Cult.

blindrabbit 5 years ago

Probably screws up his plans for Kansas's Kristalnacht, Book Burning, and minority suppression it appears that his version of the "Night of the Long Knives" is alive and well.

guess_again 5 years ago

...because her husband helps run Koch-funded "Americans For Prosperity."

blindrabbit 5 years ago

If Emma is concerned about returning to Shawnee Mission East, let her dis-enroll there and transfer to Lawrence's Free State. The dichotomy of the schools could not be greater; SME is part of the tight-arsed Johnson County right-wing 1%'ers, whereas Free State is probably the most progressive school in the state in a much more homogenous setting, and her views will be appreciated.. I hope she reconsiders her decision to attend U. of Arkansas; talk about Conservatism.

lgreen17 5 years ago

I think it's interesting to note that the husband of Sherrie Jones-Sontag, the woman who "over-reacted," is the president of the Kansas chapter of American's for Prosperity. The people who are for LIMITED government. Guess it's only limited when it's their rights or property?

hyperinflate 5 years ago

Only when it encroaches on wealthy white people.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 5 years ago

For once, the Gov did the right thing and I commend him. His staff are childish and just show a glimpse of the juvenile tactics they employ in their brand of "public service". They should be ashamed, but they won't be.

I've saved the harshest criticism for Herr Principal. His response was the most pivotal in this crash and burn. He is supposed to set an example and he owes everyone top to bottom a HUGE apology for the way he handled it.

Steve Bunch 5 years ago

Hate to see Brownback gain the high ground on this. Still waiting for an apology from the cowardly principal.

chootspa 5 years ago

The principal should issue a statement saying that he was scared of Brownie's funding decisions and acted rashly in retrospect. Honest and to the point.

tolawdjk 5 years ago

In rethinking this, and only seeing what is printed in the press, I don't think Brownback has the largest burden here. Sure, he is the most visible face, but his team only -reported- the tweet.

It was the principal that seems to have gone the extra mile and required the apology. If he had only required her to apologize for breaking school rules about cell phone usage or something similar, it would have blown over.

No, he wanted her to do it because he, or someone pulling his strings, was of the opinion that -her- speech was wrong.

I'm guessing that the atmosphere at that high school is going to be decidedly different from here on out.

Maddy Griffin 5 years ago

I'm betting he saw her Facebook page. One guy from the ACLU offered to handle her case if the apology issue was forced . And many fans of the page wrote letters to her Principal.

Phog67 5 years ago

Sadly, she came from Rossville, KS. At least that's where she went to high school. I think she should be fired too!

chetrico79 5 years ago

I'm only guessing here, but I'll bet Karl R. Krawitz's nose is brown(back). When he wasn't hiding under his desk today, KRK was rapidly backpedaling through the hallways. Hurray for Emma, a person of honesty, humor and courage!

a_flock_of_jayhawks 5 years ago

"Well-behaved women seldom make history." - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

If I were a parent with a child in that high school I would be calling for the resignation of that principal.

The principal does not answer to Sam Brownback who BTW is quite a corrupt person.

MarcoPogo 5 years ago

Wow, talk about over reactionary.

chootspa 5 years ago

It's like a Three Stooges routine of overreaction over here.

He overreacted because he DOES answer to Brownback and his cronies, at least indirectly. They'll use this and any other chance to push their charter/voucher/school defunding agenda, and KC is exactly the sort of area where schools will be hurt the most when they do it.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years ago

Merrill you'd never have a kid at SM East. You could, at best, sneak into SM North territory.

gracecountry62 5 years ago

Young Liberal at her best just another reminder of how reconnected our youth are, freedom of speech comes with responsibility has her parents taught her that? No but they are teaching her socialism ,I think I seen her at the serving line at the local salvation Army they were passing out bars of soap for the Wall street occupy loony's wonder if she received hers.

beatrice 5 years ago

Funniest thing about this post is its misuse of grammar.

tolawdjk 5 years ago

Eyedeeallohgee doesn't need no of that hi falloutain "grammer" to blindly foll'a the Leadah.

"Grammer" is a tool of pinko-commie leftists and the is the left hand of Satan.

chootspa 5 years ago

I'm sure you were trying for a point somewhere in there, dear.

pusscanthropus 5 years ago

Wasn't Emma's privacy invaded when Jones-Scumbag used her political authority to get her name from her twitter account. Since her name was not obvious, how else could she have been identified? Could Emma sue for invasion of privacy...just wondering...

Chris Golledge 5 years ago

Gosh-darn them ther' dad-blamed, lefty, hippy, commy lib'rals and their love of our constitution which we don't get anyhow! You'll bullied him inta saying sumpen as he don't mean anyhow.

Does that substitute well enough for you? Did I lay on the irony a little too thick?

Interesting point, if she was asked to deliver a written apology, isn't turn-around fair play?

Shelley Bock 5 years ago

Yes, where has jaywalker gone? Wasn't he demanding Sullivan's head and/or apology thereby vindicating the Brownback administration?

I think several of us were thinking that if Brownback were to address the problem quickly, it would go away. He would not suffer as much political damage. That's been done and the issue is now gone. Guess jaywalker doesn't know about damage control because he only has had real jobs.

Hang onto your popcorn, Gandalf. Likely eat a lot of it during the legislative session. .

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Sam Brownback is a threat to democracy,free speech,women's rights and public education. Gov. Sam Brownback should resign.

The student should be held in high esteem for standing her ground.

coloradoan 5 years ago

The only "lie" she told was to her group of twitter friends, and that may be just a normal high school chatter for them. i.e., just messin' around. She did not lie to the press, her school officials, the Gov or his staff or her parents. The communication was "internal" and not meant for the worlds consumption. It is such a trivial comment that it is hard to imagine the fuss made by the Gov's staff.

She did, however, wind up exposing a dangerous inclination in the Gov's office for tracking media comments, including those of private citizens, and worse yet, acting on that information to attempt to coerce a change in what is legal behavior through misuse of the authority of the office. Smacks of Richard M. Nixon and crew.

fancy80 5 years ago

Sort of like what the dems and left leaning media did to Joe the Plumber. They combed through his past with a fine tooth comb, looking for anything they could to discredit him.

Anyway, the Gov did the right thing and apologized. The thing I hate most is that this girl will get her 15 minutes of fame for being a disrespectful little twit. I do hope her parents sit her down to discuss the issue with her, because I am afraid she will walk away with the wrong message here.

I would hope that as she matures, she will find a better way to express her political views. Posting on fb or twitter that a politician sucks....not very grownup. At the very least, I would hope that she would willingly come forward and say something to indicate she is aware that perhaps she, too, handled the situation wrong. But she won't. I am sure she is very proud of herself.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years ago

Oh my GOSH! -use of communication device at unauthorized time-

Get a rope.

Youthinks away...

jafs 5 years ago

The governor's office contacting the organization, and the organization contacting the principal, who berated her and told her to apologize is a bit more than a simple "suggestion".

ThePilgrim 5 years ago

That principal wasn't reminding the student of her liberties - just the opposite. I think that she deserves an apology from the principal as well. And maybe a reprimand to him from the school board.

Chris Golledge 5 years ago

Well, considering that the school board may have stood him up to the job, it isn't clear which way the reprimand will flow.

fancy80 5 years ago

The principal did nothing wrong. Don't forget, they are trying to teach our children, not just reading and writing, but also how to be respectful and civil. Somewhere along the lines with this princess, someone failed...

jafs 5 years ago

Actually, I think the principal's job is not to teach "values" or to compel submission to authority, but rather to teach subjects, like the ones you mentioned.

It's up to parents, and communities, to teach the values they hold.

jafs 5 years ago

I think she should apologize.

But, I don't think she should be coerced into doing so by authority figures, like the principal, the organization, or the governor's staff.

Let's remember that her tweet was to a bunch of friends, by the way. The only reason the governor even knew about it was because his staff was monitoring the media.

beatrice 5 years ago

People should still question the Governor about how much staff time (taxpayer dollars) is spent on tracking social media. It should also be asked to what end is social media searched: What is he hoping to find by having his people search for his name?

bad_dog 5 years ago

"What is he hoping to find by having his people search for his name?"

Something complimentary.

beatrice 5 years ago

If you take the first letters of each word and rearrange them, I think it reads "To student Blowsalot."

meggers 5 years ago

Good point. Just who was the apology issued to, other than the media?

fancy80 5 years ago

Who cares? The point was that he got it. His office over reacted and hopefully, going forward they will not do something like this again. is the world supposed to stop revolving until he hand delivers flowers, gets down on one knee and beg for forgiveness from the precious little princess?

Jeez people...get over it already.

beatrice 5 years ago

It would be interesting to know how the idea for a letter of apology came about in the first place. Was it the principal's idea all on his own, or was he basing his request to the student on a suggestion by someone in the Governor's office?

a_flock_of_jayhawks 5 years ago

Makes you wonder. The principal wanted Sullivan to write down what he wanted her to say.

Shelley Bock 5 years ago

I would venture to say that it was the organizing entity or the school principal. I suspect that when you get a telephone call from the Governor's office, you try to show your "appropriateness" by correcting what was perceived to be the problem.

Likely, no one besides the participants will ever know.

bad_dog 5 years ago

Gov. B should issue a letter of apology to all Kansans. A letter of resignation will suffice as a substitute.

bad_dog 5 years ago

Way to stay on point, Snap.

BTW, how was that wild blueberry muffin you were force fed?

Steve Bunch 5 years ago

SM School District has told Emma that she does not need to apologize. The principal is strangely silent. Perhaps he received a scolding from central admin similar to the one he gave Emma.

beatrice 5 years ago

Would you say it is an obsession or an addiction when someone is kicked off a public forum multiple times, but insists on coming back under a different name time and time again? Just wondering.

beatrice 5 years ago

You are confusing freedom of speech with the right to post comments on a privately owned messaging site. You have no right to speak freely here. Why, if I typed in the words I wanted to type in regarding those who have been removed yet come back, the automatic censor wouldn't allow it.

Why would I be referring to you specifically? One zombie is as bad as the next as far as I'm concerned.

However, feel free to report anything you wish. Knock yourself out. If you really want the moderators looking more closely at your own posts, then please do hit as many "suggest removal" buttons as possible.

beatrice 5 years ago

No, my disgust of people removed again and again for often stating vile, hateful and yes, racist things has nothing to do with anyone else.

Getaroom 5 years ago

And guess what? You are one of them. Go figure..........

woodscolt 5 years ago

Once again a right winger finds itself on the losing end of an issue and the only thing it can do is try to change the debate. That coming from a winger that has posted at least twenty times under "just the math" alone, (not counting their posts under other "anonymous" monikers.)

bevy 5 years ago

Now if we could just get him to apologize to the rest of us!

Paul R Getto 5 years ago

I agree; this is over, move on. I just wish Muscular Sam were a conservative. He passed through that barrier long ago. (See The Family, for example.)

Armstrong 5 years ago

The life of this story is ending in 3 2 1

guess_again 5 years ago

Which does not explain Armstrong's continuing posts on this story...

Chris Golledge 5 years ago

Allow me to paraphrase:

"District officials have reviewed recent events surrounding the reported tweet by Shawnee Mission East High School student Emma Sullivan. The district acknowledges a student's right to freedom of speech and expression is constitutionally protected."

We have found that the taste of our own feet is not very good.

"The district has not censored Miss Sullivan nor infringed upon her freedom of speech. She is not required to write a letter of apology to the Governor. Whether and to whom any apologies are issued will be left to the individuals involved."

We would like to pretend the whole thing never happened.

"The issue has resulted in many teachable moments concerning the use of social media. The district does not intend to take any further action on this matter."

Holy shiitake mushrooms; didn't see that coming. We really hope that if we drop the matter, everyone else will too.

blindrabbit 5 years ago

Take the money wasted by the Governors lackey and apply it to restoring the Kansas Art's Commission funding. Monies spent on this plus the James Mann debacle would more than cover the restoration.

Flap Doodle 5 years ago

If the Gov. were to eat a boiled egg, in two days there would be 600 posts by the usual crew of losers on this award-winning website whining about whether he should have started peeling it from the small end or the big end.Tempest, meet teapot.

beatrice 5 years ago

Yep, and it looks like he still has that egg all over his face.

beatrice 5 years ago

Would the Governor feel a need to apologize for eating a boiled egg?

Teapot, meet national news coverage and a Governor publicly apologizing to a high school student after she said he "blowsalot." That is just funny any way you slice it.

pace 5 years ago

LOL, You are claiming the gov. is too good to eat a simple boiled egg? Or we would of heard about it. No egg Sam. what a slogan.

Linda Endicott 5 years ago

But they have to be green eggs, for Sam I Am...could take awhile for them to find green eggs...

coloradoan 5 years ago

I'm sure that the University of Devonshire has a degree for that.

bad_dog 5 years ago

Was the chicken vetted? You wouldn't want yet another rotten egg...

Paul R Getto 5 years ago

Thanks for the reference to J. Swift. The egg bit was great satire which is still relevant today. "The novel further describes an intra-Lilliputian quarrel over the practice of breaking eggs. Traditionally, Lilliputians broke boiled eggs on the larger end; a few generations ago, an Emperor of Lilliput had decreed that all eggs be broken on the smaller end. The differences between Big-Endians (those who broke their eggs at the larger end) and Little-Endians had given rise to "six rebellions... wherein one Emperor lost his life, and another his crown". Substitute eggs for zygotes and stem cells and you have the last 2-3 presidential races.

jafs 5 years ago


What a strange comment.

Equating his use of staff to monitor private communications, and then informing the officials of the group about it with a choice of what to eat for breakfast.

johnny5 5 years ago

Of course Emma hasn't received an apology from Gov. Brownback and probably never will. Gov. Brownback has too much pride to do that. Without his policies this incident would have never taken place. The governor needs to grow a spine and learn to own up to issues such as this instead of blaming others. Then again, I'm sure this is asking for the impossible.

beatrice 5 years ago

Unfortunately, I had Herman Cain in the "Name the next Republican who will have to apologize to a young woman for inappropriate behavior" pool.

beatrice 5 years ago

It was the apology part that tripped me up.

pace 5 years ago

Glad he apologized. Sorry the buck stops at staff, If Sherriene Jones-Sontag is as bad at her job as she seems, maybe she could get a new job in Florida.

riverdrifter 5 years ago

It is official: an 18-year old schoolgirl (whodathunkit) has pinned a clown suit on the guvner and it fits him perfectly. Said being did damage control 48 hours late. Just a total PR boob.

wtchdr46 5 years ago

I don't often say much in here, but I do want to put forth the idea that all of this smokescreen is only the tip of the iceberg. Freedoms are under assault on all fronts, this just provides a focus. It is a symptom of the times

verity 5 years ago

This is damage control, pure and simple. Brownback lost this one big time. He didn't even take responsibility---he blamed it on his staff---and it wasn't really an apology. If he had continued to fight, he would just have looked the bigger fool.

Whether Emma Sullivan was acting badly by her tweet is completely and totally irrelevant. The powers that be thought they could bully a young woman and send a message of intimidation. They sent a message alright and got one sent right back to them. Don't try to mess with our freedom of speech!

Jimo 5 years ago

“My staff over-reacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms,” Brownback said.

Apologize to whom? The air?

“The district acknowledges a student’s right to freedom of speech and expression is constitutionally protected,” the district’s statement said, adding, “The issue has resulted in many teachable moments concerning the use of social media.”

Translation: Please don't sue us.

fanaddict 5 years ago

The school board meeting tonight was interesting...a parent asking for answers.

@ the 16 minute mark

Steve Bunch 5 years ago

Relevant questions, every one. It'll be interesting to see if answers are forthcoming or if the parents' group will have to invoke the open records act.

The principal has a reputation of being something of a bully, and it's interesting to think that maybe he acted in response to being bullied by the governor's office.

pace 5 years ago

I hope that Emma and Sam can be fb friends, though he probably should not follow her on twitter.

beatrice 5 years ago

I'm so old I had to stop and really think what "fb friends" meant. (face palm)

Shelley Bock 5 years ago

This issue made papers and even into radio news broadcasts on stations other than the BBC in London, England.

Here's a link to the Guardian article. It's a rehash of other reports, but I'm sorry to see that Kansas gets noted in such a way:

Setshot 5 years ago

Every apology is damage control...sorta by definition...move on.

While I agree Emma was likely engaging in "normal high school joking", I still have trouble not assigning lots of blame on her. Make no difference what you think about Brownback, she was in the wrong and needs to own it. Maybe its old school but 'round here, we still teach our kids to treat others with respect and that you should never text/email/tweet anything that you wouldn't say to someone's face.

jafs 5 years ago

I agree her behavior was immature, and she should probably apologize (without being forced to do so), but the governor is an adult in a position of power, and his actions have much greater impact than hers do.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years ago

It takes one (adult) to know one. FAIL!

BTW, nice absolute freaking pig impersonation!

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Emma has the right to make comments = the bottom line.

Meanwhile this is still making national news which reveals to so many others how the RINO's push big government in spite of their rhetoric. Intrusion in our private lives is truly big government extreme.

There is no doubt if Emma Sullivan needed financial support for a legal defense donations would come. The Emma Sullivan Legal Defense Fund would be an example of how the majority of Americans do not appreciate the intrusion of "big government" in a democracy that preaches Freedom of Speech.

jafs 5 years ago

I would bet that the only reason she was not punished for this is that it got a lot of media attention nationwide, and lawyers were lined up waiting to help her in a lawsuit.

You seem to miss the obvious abuse of power here.

When state officials, heads of organizations, and school principals get involved, there's more going on than a simple "request".

Maybe if the governor had simply called her and told her his feelings were hurt, and asked her to apologize, you'd have a point.

But even there, those in a position of power have an unbalanced relationship with others - that's why teachers aren't supposed to have affairs with their students, for example.

oldvet 5 years ago

Emma looks like a snotty little brat... but that's just my opinion and I would appologize to her for calling her a snotty little brat but then I wouldn't really mean it so I won't.

beatrice 5 years ago

Well, now don't you feel like a real grown up.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

"Emma looks like a snotty little brat"

You know that just by looking at someone?

I would still say that even snotty little brats have access to freedom of speech in a country that portrays itself as a democracy.

mloburgio 5 years ago

Gandalf He still hasn't apologized to Emma!

he never will he is a man and women summit to the MAN!

you have to love chrisitan republicans, they hate in the name of god!

woodscolt 5 years ago

Its funny how many of the posters (pretending to be adults) on these related threads couldn't be adult enough to acknowledge that the actions of the governor were far below acceptable, (while the majority of the rest of the nation figured it out very quickly) and have to continue to show their immaturity and continue to behave in a manner very unbecoming to them as adults.

Your wrong on this one, be a grown up and admit it and quit wallowing around in the hole you dug yourself into, or continue to show the rest of us your true colors. Wouldn't admit you were wrong even if the majority of the entire country knows you were wrong. At least sam figured out what he had to do on this one. Get over it and finally grow up before its to late for you.

nativeson 5 years ago

Give Brownback an element of credit. He acknowledged the mistake made by his communications team, and he took responsibility for the overreaction. It was a bad move by his staff, and he was willing to acknowldege the issue without any qualification.

The bigger issue remains why he continues to have missteps in staffing and communications that seem to be easy to avoid. As a conservative, he is already going to create controversy on issues that are important. These type of events just make his ability to create any real change less likely.

beatrice 5 years ago

I just wonder, would he have acknowledged the mistake and apologized had it not become a national story? If it had remained local, I suspect his staff would have accepted the apology letter on his behalf and that would have been the end of it. He apologized because everyone else found out about it.

coloradoan 5 years ago

Actually, yes and no. Yes there are more important matters: As I noted elsewhere - "How many jobs did this create?" That should be the staff's number one priority, not chasing down people who say negative things about the Gov. Jobs, infrastructure, education, and caring for the vulnerable.

And no, it's at least not unimportant: See woodscolt below and others who have noted the fact that this indicates a potentially dangerous tendency to misuse the power of the office. Nixon went to China, signed the bill that created the EPA, but what is he most remembered for? The arrogance and abuse of the power of his office for Watergate.

Steve Miller 5 years ago

I guess the truth hurts, doesn't it browny ...

woodscolt 5 years ago

"Why is this such an issue; big deal;".........

Because it has far reaching ramifications. If brownback is willing to do this, what else is he willing to do? Trampling freedom of speech is a big deal in this country. When it ceases to be a big deal than this country will become a very different country. A lot of people have died trying to preserve the values of this country. Thats a big deal. Lots of politicians are undermining this and you are seeing people making a "big deal" out of it.

friendlyjhawk 5 years ago

This story is BIG because the media picked up on it and blew it out of portion. The kid, tho 18, did a kid thing, wrote something and when called on it said "just kidding." The Brownstaffer jerked his/her knee too quickly and made a stupid call to the school principal who also over reacted. If the press had left it alone this story wouldn't have spread around the states making Kansas look bad. The press has also tried to make this child look like a 1st amendment hero and has reinforced the prominent notion in the USA that it is perfectly ok after making a stupid mistake writing something untrue to say JUST KIDDING instead of "Yeah, that was a mistake." Too many real problems have with resulted with real criminals blue and white collar saying "I didn't mean it" (another form of just kidding). The press is keeping this little story alive. BTW I am not one of Brownie's supported and I'm not kidding.

beatrice 5 years ago

She isn't a criminal, and she was just kidding - with her friends who follow her on twitter.

heygary 5 years ago

"Snotty little brat" ... I concur! She tweets a lie to her friends (attention seeking behavior) ... it explodes in her face and she considers an apology ... then she gets national attention so she attempts to wrap in in the nobility of the 1st Amendment (more attention seeking behavior). Emma is emblomatic of the shallowness of most that carry the liberal banner.

beatrice 5 years ago

Indeed. How dare anyone try to wrap themselves in the rights guaranteed under the Constitution. I'm sure you say the same thing every time the NRA tries to wrap itself in the 2nd Amendment, correct?

By the way, if most who carry the liberal banner can force an apology from a Governor whose staff attempted to silence and shame a young woman for practicing her Constitutional right to free speech, then I say, "Keep waving that banner and hold it high!"

KansasPerson 5 years ago

There is still something fishy about the original story.

Jones-Sontag monitors the daily chatter; saw this tweet; reported it. I get it so far.

But then, please notice that "it was reported to the Youth in Government officials."

I do not know how much extra homework Jones-Sontag had to do to discover that @emmakate988 was involved in Youth in Government, but obviously there was some extra peeking involved, since the original tweet said nothing about it.

Doesn't anyone else think this is weird?

esteshawk 5 years ago

Simple: what time was the tweet posted, and who was Brownie with at the time? He was with the Youth in Gov? Then someone from that group posted it. In 30 seconds you've narrowed it down to a 100 people.

KansasPerson 5 years ago

Even if we accept the reasoning that the governor's staff was at fault (not the governor himself), that leaves me with the question -- why on earth is your staff trained to act this way? Or did you just make a point of hiring extra-paranoid people? Oh wait, they're not paranoid -- they're just concerned about the morals and manners of our state's high-school seniors. I don't recall the parents of Kansas hiring extra people to help raise their children, but there you are. And I thought it was the ultra-conservatives that were against the "nanny state."

yourworstnightmare 5 years ago

Pass the Orville Redenbacher.

Popcorn, anyone?

sad_lawrencian 5 years ago

How dare you accuse the girl's parents of poor parenting skills!

esteshawk 5 years ago

You mean blind respect for authority. Brownie has been around long enough for people to make their own judgement about whether or not to respect him.

sad_lawrencian 5 years ago

The poster above (kansanjayhawk) called a KC radio show yesterday and conveyed the exact same comment(s). To my surprise, the talk show hosts stood up for the young woman's right to express herself. The right to free speech trumps "respect [for] the office that is being represented". Furthermore, the "girl" in this situation an eighteen-year-old woman: a legal adult. The parents/school have nothing to do with it.

"We lower our own discourse when we simply attack the other person not based upon any issue [or] argument." What are you saying? The young woman did not have a valid argument? She wasn't attacking any particular issue? I could identify at least two issues the young woman was addressing.

The fact that Brownback's office overreached, and the school district/principal overreacted, is a very serious issue that demands attention. "We need to teach our youth to... respect... all of our leaders... I think Governor Brownback is doing a fine job representing Kansans." No. In my opinion, Brownback is not representing Kansans, at least not the Kansans I know.

optimist 5 years ago

I think what has been lost in all of this is that this child was extremely disrespectful, immature and frankly she is a liar. You have all fallen prey to her plan to draw attention to herself through bad behavior. This is not a defense of the Governor's staff because we can all agree that the staffer’s response was inappropriate. It is also illogical to think the Governor was in any way involved in the decision to respond to this child’s bad behavior either. He however is responsible for correcting this issue given that he is the adult in the equation but he shouldn’t apologize to this brat.

This child had an opportunity to meet the Governor and rather than show respect she behaved poorly. If she were my child regardless of what I thought of the Governor I would be embarrassed by this and would have punished her rather than reward her with media interviews. I hope there are better representatives for her generation than she has been.

sad_lawrencian 5 years ago

This girl is not a "child". She's 18 years old.

optimist 5 years ago

I know what her age is. She is clearly a child as demonstrated by her behavior.

pace 5 years ago

lol, her plan, she is such a political genius, that she planned for the Governor and staff to be absolutely stupid at handling social media. What did she do? Hypnotize them. Now all the snarky teenagers will be snarking their governor and waiting, it will be as big as gold fish swallowing was back in the day. Your analysis of this being a nefarious plan is sad.

optimist 5 years ago

Of course you're the smartest guy in the room. This was a look at me moment for this girl. She did this for no other reason than to draw attention to herself from her friends and other followers in her social networking circles. She couldn't have imagined that it would get this big and for that the Governor has his staff to blame. There was a time when this girl’s behavior would have been embarrassing to her family but those days seem to be long gone. We are a society of little respect for others. That doesn't mean we can’t criticize our leadership but we should be teaching this kid the right way to behave rather than continue to heap attention onto her. She will not be better off for this.

beatrice 5 years ago

"Plan to draw attention to herself"? She sent a silly message to her friends.

Or, are you saying that really she knew that Brownback's office closely watches social media and that they would then come after her through her principal who would then demand she write a letter of apology, then her older sister would tell someone, and then it would go national, thus forcing an apology from the very person she was insulting? Wow. That girl has some mad planning skills.

I don't believe many are actually thinking she acted the grown-up here. She sent a silly message to friends when she should have been respectful and paying attention. Fair enough. I'm sure that on at least one occassion you may have done something that an adult would consider rude when you were in high school. If not, if you were the perfect student, then good for you. However, don't overblow what she actually did. Making more of it by claiming it should be an embarrassment to her parents is more along the lines of what Brownback's staff tried to do. She is clearly a high school student demonstrated by her behavior. I agree. Keep that in mind and remember what you were lack all the way back in your high school days before you throw her in society's junk pile.

tolawdjk 5 years ago

So we should be outraged that a "child" was disrespectful and immature? We should brand her with a scarlet L because she chose to lie about a situation to 65 of her friends inorder "impress" them and make her look cool? Newsflash, since the dawn of time, back when little "Ug" refused to take the empty brontosaurus bones out to the recycling bin like "Grunt" told him to, kids have been rebeling against authority. This should not be shocking, should be viewed as condoning one political view above the other but should just be seen as "Kids will be immature."

Why is it illogical to think that the Governor was involved in teh decision? This is his "staff", not some staff level help desk at KDOT. Either he has directed his staff to operate in a certain way, or his staff went rogue and operated in a way that harmed the image of the Governor of the State of Kansas...showing that he does not have adequate control over his own staff. Either way demonstrates some rather large concerns.

Her plan to draw attention to herself extended exactly as far as the 65 followers her Twitter acount had. Her behavior, the Govenor's behavior (directly or through his staff), and her principal's behavior (directly or through the school board) is what drew everyone else's attention to this.

She's 18 and behaved pretty much as you would expect 18 yr olds to behave.

jafs 5 years ago

Actually, this does seem pretty immature for an 18 year old.

Of course, each year 18 year olds seem younger and younger to me :-)

beatrice 5 years ago

Her message suggests immatury for an 18 year old, I would agree. For someone still in high school? Not so much.

It isn't the age, its the mileage. We think of college freshmen as being much more mature than a high schooler, but the only thing separating them is a summer vacation. Odd how that works. Once she surrounds herself with something other than fellow high schoolers, I suspect she will mature quickly.

In my book, it is difficult for anyone to claim maturity when still living with mom and dad.

Chris Golledge 5 years ago

Get a clue. This is not a news story because of what Sullivan did; it is a story because of what government officials did.

"Person insults government official" is not an interesting story. "Person punished for insulting government official" is an interesting story.

Gary Denning 5 years ago

At first, Brownback looked like a paranoid politician who was wasting taxpayer dollars by reviewing the tweets of silly high school girls and over-reacting to them. Now, in addition to that, he looks weak.

sad_lawrencian 5 years ago

My comments regarding Brownback's handling of this entire affair, as well as his general attitude toward/handling of the Office of Governor, is that he's treating his position as if he were still a U.S. senator. A senator's office would be monitoring social networking and search engines. A senator's office would be concerned about cutting pork like arts funding. A senator's office would be interested in kowtowing to the "Christian" far-right fringe of the Republican Party. You can't expect the man who served fourteen years in the United States Senate to come to this office and knock it out of the ballpark. We must resign ourselves to accept gaffes, overreaching, paranoia, intolerance and just plain stupidity until this governor can be voted out of office.

Paul R Getto 5 years ago

"sad_lawrencian--My comments regarding Brownback's handling of this entire affair, as well as his general attitude toward/handling of the Office of Governor, is that he's treating his position as if he were still a U.S. senator." === SL: This is an excellent point and one which escaped me. I think you are on to something. Thanks for teaching me. I don't think he's stupid, just narrow-minded. His staff has betrayed him several times but he can't fire anyone.

sad_lawrencian 5 years ago

Sorry. Typo. Should say, "My comment (singular)... is that he's treating his position as if he were still a U.S. senator."

stevewonder 5 years ago

Take Brownback to the Woodshed! America's not commie China, Governor--Love America or Leave it, Brownback!

kernal 5 years ago

Wonder if guv's staff added another staffer to follow comments under the new moniker of blowsalot.

verity 5 years ago

Doesn't matter if Ms Sullivan is a snotty little brat or if she is a hero. That is completely beside the point.

This is about freedom of speech.

Whether Brownback knew about what was happening or not, he is the person who appointed his staff and ultimately is responsibile for what they do. The fact that Brownback's administration did this is really creepy and scarey. He only apologized for damage control. I doubt the intimidation will stop---they might be a littlel more subtle about it. The fear of people who work for the state is still there. Nothing really has changed except that people all over the world are aware of what's going on and hopefully we in Kansas will be more watchful of our freedoms and of what Brownback is trying to do.

Quit quibling about whether Ms Sulivan was wrong or right and do your homework. This man wants a theocracy for the U.S. Those of you who want that---just study history a bit. It may not be the religion you want that takes or remains in control.

Brownback is not a conservative.

John Pearson 5 years ago

Why is the state paying someone to monitor his traffic on Twitter? We can't pay for schools, the arts or anything else but the staff is hot on the trail of Twitter?

whats_going_on 5 years ago

Supposed mature adults, in a frenzy over twitter. Yay for our country of dimwits.

Angela Heili 5 years ago

Brownback’s spokeswoman, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, said at the time, “It was important for the organization to be aware of the comments their students were making. It’s also important for students to recognize the power of social media, how lasting it is. It is on the Internet.”

Emphasis on, "how lasting it is. It's on the Internet.". I'm guessing right about now miss Jones-Sontag wishes this whole thing wasn't on the Internet! Apparently, she didn't think about that before the administration she's part of decided to make a big deal out of what one teenager said on a tweet.

blindrabbit 5 years ago

Sam had goose for Thanksgiving; and it was cooked! So sorry to hear of his misfortune.

Sunny Parker 5 years ago

She's a disrespectful spoiled brat! If this same situation would have happened to Sebelius there would have been an uproar from the libs!

woodscolt 5 years ago

"If this same situation would have happened to Sebelius.........." You have to resort to pure fantasy. This didn't happen to Sebelius because she is above this pathetic behavior. Would never even be possible for Sebelius to behave so despicably. Brownback did, simple enough. As for this girl being a "spoiled brat", more pure fantasy, but what she did do is describe brownback very accurately. Here's keepin your sunny side down. LOL

jafs 5 years ago

Did her office monitor these sorts of communications and act in a similar fashion?

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