Kansas teenager Emma Sullivan says she will not be writing an apology letter to Governor Sam Brownback after insulting him on her Twitter feed. Sullivan, 18, accidentally launched herself into the national spotlight last week after posting on her Twitter feed: “Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot.”
Emma Sullivan, who is a senior at Shawnee Mission East high school, saw Governor Brownback during a field trip to a youth event where he was speaking. She did not, however, actually meet or speak to Brownback. According to ABC News, Sullivan’s sister Olivia said the Tweet was just “for her audience at the time” and was “a complete joke between her and her friends.”
Staffers for Governor Sam Brownback came across the Twitter post during a web search for his name. One of Brownback’s secretaries e-mailed Shawnee Mission East with a screen shot of the Tweet and a note saying: â€œI donâ€™t know if this was someone with your group, but thought if it was, you might want it brought to your attention.â€
As a result of the e-mail and the national response to the Twitter post, Emma Sullivan was called to face her high school principal at Shawnee Mission East. Sullivan was told she should apologize to the Governor for her Tweet. The principal also told her she should remove the offensive Tweet from her Twitter page.
Sullivan said her principal â€œlaid into me about how this was unacceptable and an embarrassment,â€ according to The Wichita Eagle. â€œHe said I had created this huge controversy and everyone was up in arms about it â€¦ and now he had to do damage control.â€
A spokeswoman for the Shawnee Mission school district released a statement saying that â€œstudents on school-sponsored field trips, in which they are representing the school, would be expected to conduct themselves in accordance with school district policies, including use of electronic devices. Students may express their personal beliefs, views, and opinions, as long as they do so appropriately and in accordance with school policies.â€
Sullivan’s sister, who is majoring in political science, said she thinks Brownback’s office was basically attempted to engage in “censoring the opinion of a student.”
Sullivan said she was “just kind of shocked” that the whole thing got so big. Still, she has no intention of apologizing for expressing her opinion about Governor Brownback. Sullivan says she disagrees with Brownback’s politics, especially his decision to veto the Kansas Arts Commission‘s entire budget.
“I don’t think I should write the letter, and I don’t think it would be the best move for me,” Sullivan said, according to CNN.com. “At this time, I do not think an apology would be a sincere thing for me to do.”
â€œIâ€™ve decided not to write the letter but I hope this opens the door for average citizens to voice their opinion & to be heard! #goingstrong,â€ Sullivan tweeted Sunday.
“The issue is relevant and, if anything, is a starting point of dialog with the governor about his policies and how our First Amendment rights can be taken away.” Emma Sullivan’s Twitter feed has grown from 60 to over 8,500 followers since the controversy hit the national media.