Speak Outs
Speak Out
Tweeting at the Governor: Social media and freedom of speech

Nov. 30, 2011

By John Vettese, Student Voices staff writer


A high school senior in Fairway, Kan., thought she was joking with a small group of friends when she poked fun at Gov. Sam Brownback on Twitter.

Then the governor’s staff saw her post, and 18-year-old Emma Sullivan found herself in the middle of a national discussion about freedom of speech on the Internet.

Sullivan and her classmates were on a field trip with the Youth in Government program on Nov. 21, watching Gov. Brownback give a speech. Standing in the crowd with her friends, she posted to Twitter from her smart phone, making negative remarks about the governor.

She says that she didn’t actually say anything to his face and that it was just an innocent comment intended only for the friends who followed her on Twitter. “I probably have like 60 followers on Twitter,” she told the local NBC Action News. “I didn’t think it’d be like everybody would be freaking out.”

Nonetheless, Brownback’s staff found what she wrote while searching Twitter for posts about him. They complained to the Youth in Government program, which complained to the school district, and Sullivan’s principal called her into his office demanding she write a letter of apology.

Sullivan refused. “I believe that it is my right to state my opinion,” she told Action News. As she became the center of national media attention, the school district eased up on its stance, saying in a statement: “The district acknowledges a student’s right to freedom of speech and expression is constitutionally protected. 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.”

Interviewed by ABC News, Emma’s older sister, Olivia, said that the family found it inappropriate that the governor’s office cracked down on the relatively insignificant tweet.

“It was a misuse of their time and a misuse of their power,” she said. “There have been worse things said about Gov. Brownback from people who matter much more politically.”

Brownback apparently agreed. In a statement released early the following week, he wrote, “My staff overreacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms.”

Sullivan is pleased with the how the incident unfolded. She told the Associated Press that it “has turned into a good starting point to open up dialogue about this ... free speech and the power of social media and the power that people my age could potentially have, that people will listen to us.”

What do you think?

What do you think about Emma Sullivan’s tweet being flagged by the Kansas Governor’s Office? What do you think of the school district’s reaction? Do you think she was right in refusing to apologize? What would you do, if you were in her shoes? Join the discussion!
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Comments
12/20/2017
Magnolia, TX
Mark
Mr. Metzger
I don’t think she should apologize to the governor. She was exercising her right to speak freely, and criticizing a government official is one of the core reasons why we have this right. If we do not like something or disagree with somebody, we are entitled to speak out and have our voices heard. The governor’s group did exaggerate with their reaction to this post. It wasn’t in ill meaning that she said it, it was that she disagreed with his views.

3/13/2015
Archbishop Wood
Mr. Firmani
Mr. Firmani
This is outrageous. The student should not be required to write a letter of apology. The Governor needs thicker skin. He is a politician; therefore he should be used to political jabs. I am not from Kansas, maybe that's a good thing. I don't want my Governor concerned about his image more than he is with the people he actually represents.

5/7/2014
Rudyard, MT
Sierra
Mrs. Campbell, North Star High School
Ms. Sullivan's tweet being flagged by the Kansas Governor's Office was a bit irrational and quixotic. Yes, I do believe she was right to refuse to apologize. She is entitled to her opinion and her ability to share it, even on social media. But I also believe that it was inappropriate for her to be making such comments during the governor's speech. If I were in her shoes, I would have written a letter of apology on my own accords addressing that it wasn't meant to be a political dispute and that it caused inconvenience. I do believe her rights are protected, but that there were unnecessary complications.

12/3/2013
great neck 11021
Aviva Sham
great neck north high school
I believe that the government should not be nosey in the personal stuff people do on the internet. I believe it's a great idea for the government to see who the people are in touch with but not to take it far on a level that if someone talks about the government they get caught and get sent to a national discussion. I think that's just being extremely over protective.

3/19/2013
Denver/Co
Dante
Ms. Mumby/ John F. Kennedy
When I was reading this I was thinking the whole time, that the Governor was overreacting about the whole tweet. The tweet was just a little comment what she was thinking at the moment.

12/10/2012
CA
Yovana
MHS
I think the Governor's office overreacted. It is bound for there to be things that one does not like to be posted but that does not call for a huge legal commotion. I think she was right in refusing to apologize.

10/30/2012
Sidney, MT
Abigail Haraldson
Mr. Faulhaber
She had the right to tweet what she did. She has the right to an opinion and it should be protected by the First Amendment. And why does it matter what a high schooler says about the Governor? I'm sure there are bigger issues at hand.

10/30/2012
Sidney, Montana
Abbe
Mr. Faulhaber/SHS
Sullivan was within her rights to tweet about whomever she wants. Instead of craking down on things said about a governor, the law should be craking down on cyber bullying.

10/30/2012
Sidney/MT
Austin
Mr. Faulhaber
i dont think she should have to right a letter of apology because it is her constitutional right to speak her mind. also if we dont like are goverment we can speak that.

10/24/2012
Watertown/MA
Elayna
Mr. Rimas/Watertown High School
Sullivan is completely in the right here. There's nothing wrong with stating your opinion about someone online, and even if she insulted him to his face there wasn't really much they could do about it legally. She was completely right to state her opinion, and justified in refusing to apologize. If it were me, i know for a fact I would not apologize. my opinion is my own, and it is definitely a waste of the Gov.'s time to overreact so much to a simple tweet. I'm very glad that he was able to apologize for her for bringing all that media attention to her.

5/11/2012
porterville,ca
salinna
smith/monache
I think that its ok to tweet her opion. Whats so wrong about that. if they havent noticed but everyone isnt gonna like you. Though it a good decison that the school didnt get involved in it. since they cant; they cant just block her freedom of speech. Thus if i was her i would apollagize either.

5/11/2012
Porterville, CA
Andres
Mr.Smith/Monache
I think it is ridiculous that they started a huge fuss over something that had no real meaning to it. There are much worse things to worry about than a little tweet posted by a high school student. I didn’t like how they were asking her to write an apology letter for something that she didn’t do wrong but happy to see that her school backed her up by agreeing that they were trying to violate her freedom of speech. If I were in her position I would have probably refused to write the letter as well.

4/4/2012
pomerene
beth lopez
sorenson
i think that tweeting at trhe governor is bad because tweeting at the govoner can be really dangerous

2/12/2012
Vacaville/ CA
Philip
Mr. Hawkins/ Buckingham
I believe that Freedom of Speech is the most critical parts of our nation's Constitution. Voicing your opinion is one of the most important you can do as a citizen of America. Although, I believe in this, I also think that people's opinions as of late have been very unintelligent. Amateurs such as Emma Sullivan should be ignored and I have no idea why Brownback's staff had took their valuable time to complain about Sullivan's comment.

2/10/2012
Sonoma/CA
Chanton
Mr. Davis/Forest Ridge
One word... WOW. This whole thing is a fiasco! I can't even believe this! WHERE'S THE FREEDOM HERE???? I like freedom a lot and they should too! Everyone should like it because it's really good. Governor Brownback is not good in office and he needs a little bit of spirit to pump up the crowd, talk about BORING! anyway, Emma was right. I'm honestly inspired by her and hopefully i get to meet her :)

2/10/2012
VacavilleCA
Jairus
Mr. Hawkins/Buckingham
i think that she is right about the freedom of speech part but i wish that they would let us see the post on what was and also ithink that it is cool that the Governor sead sorry

2/10/2012
Vacaville/CA
Quinton
Mr. Hawkins/ Buckingham Charter Magnet High School
I believe that she did nothing wrong when she tweeted about the governer. One of the rights that she has is freedom of speech which means she can say what is on her mind. The school district had no bussiness getting involved with this discusion, and trying to make he apoligize.

2/10/2012
Vacaville/ CA
Johnny
Mr. Hawkins/ Buckingham Charter Magnet High School
I believe she does have her freedom of speech, but I can understand why the governor and his office was upset with the comment. All the work that the governor and his office did to win the election was publicly put down by a random citizen who only watched one of his speeches. I do not know if Emma is familiar with the governor's accomplishments and mistakes; so I do not know if her tweet was acurate or not. This could have been avoided if she was more careful with what she posts on the internet.

2/10/2012
Vacaville/ CA
Elisa
Mr. Hawkins/ Buckingham
Emma did have the right to speak out, but she is also 18 years old, and technically an adult. She should think a little more about the things she says on the internant, where anyone can she it. Even though we of the right to say what we want, we should try to be respectful.

2/10/2012
Vacaville, CA
Cerradi
Mr. Hawkins/Buckingham
I think that everyone deserves to state their opinion on any given situation. But there should be a line drawn to how her opinion is stated. Although the government's staff did overreact to Emma's tweet, I think that she should of never refused to apologize to the Gov. Brownback.

2/10/2012
Vacaville/California
Nat L.
Mr.Hawkins/Buckingham Magnet Charter School
The school district didn't have any right to make her write an apology letter, if the governor didn't want to hear bad things then he shouldn't have been governor. The school district only has power over school. It is not in their power to decide what you can do at home.

2/10/2012
Vacaville/CA
Jordan
Mr. Hawkins/Buckingham
I think Emma most definitely had the right to say that. We do have the freedom of speech and it should be used. I also think the Governor's staff misused their time and power to complain about this when worse things are probably being said to his face. She was 100% right in refusing an apology, and if I were in her shoes, I would do the exact same thing.

2/10/2012
Vacaville/California
Garrett
Mr. Hawkins/ Buckingham
Well first of all, it's REDICULOUS that Emmy Baby would say something so mean!! :'( I think that she should've been nicer to Brownback because he's a nice man. On the other hand, it wasn't wrong of her to say that because she was freedom of speech. The government just got all butthurt because she was freedom.

2/10/2012
Vacaville CA
Melanie
Mr. Hawkins/BCMHS
I dont think they should have reacted that way. The school took it way to seriously. I think she should have apologize because the princable was her athority. I would have apologized

1/13/2012
Benson /Arizona
Colton
Mr. Sorenson/ Benson
i think it goes to show that even oe persons point of view matters, however it is beyond belief that a governor would make such a huge deal over a student expressing their opinion. the Governors office if any action at all should of used the point of view to help with future speechs. i think the school should be pusished for trying to censor the thoughts of a student overmore when its outside of shcool. she was 100% in the right by refuseing i would do the same if i were her.

1/11/2012
Rudyard, Montana
Brandi
Mrs.Campbell/North Star
Twitter is a social network that is bound to have comments about the Government. His staff was looking for comments like these, and just because it was a bad one made by a teenager they think it’s inappropriate. It was what she thought; at least she has an opinion. Most High School students probably weren’t even paying attention to the speech anyways. I think that Governor Brownback needs to focus more on bigger issues. Obviously not everyone is going to like what at Governor is doing, but if he expects that everyone should, he should be Governor. Maybe the comments made about him he needs to consider and work on how he can make it so people don’t think like that instead of trying to get someone in trouble for making a possible true statement.

1/6/2012
Montgomery
Dakota
Mr. Metzger
First of all Kudos to Emma standing up for what she believes in! It’s the fact the four fathers gave us the first amendment to protect freedom of speech and freedom of press guaranteed to protect each person’s right of expression, whether spoken, written, or communicated in any other way. Not only allows all persons’ right to a complete discussion of public affairs. What Emma wrote was completely innocent. What the governor and his staff did showed the exact reason the democracy is going completely overboard corrupting the peoples’ rights. The people had her back and that’s what this society needs! Governor Sam Brownback hopefully learns from this, good over comes evil in this case, which made him and his staff look foolish. This kind of unconstitutional power is why the four fathers wrote the constitution for people like that to not take advantage and ill-use his whole reason why he is the governor.

1/6/2012
Montgomery
Dakota
Mr. Metzger
First of all Kudos to Emma standing up for what she believes in! It’s the fact the four fathers gave us the first amendment to protect freedom of speech and freedom of press guaranteed to protect each person’s right of expression, whether spoken, written, or communicated in any other way. Not only allows all persons’ right to a complete discussion of public affairs. What Emma wrote was completely innocent. What the governor and his staff did showed the exact reason the democracy is going completely overboard corrupting the peoples’ rights. The people had her back and that’s what this society needs! Governor Sam Brownback hopefully learns from this, good over comes evil in this case, which made him and his staff look foolish. This kind of unconstitutional power is why the four fathers wrote the constitution for people like that to not take advantage and ill-use his whole reason why he is the governor.

1/5/2012
Montgomery, tx
Brooklynn
Metzger/Montgomery High
Twitter is a social network that allows people to post comments about there life and the people following them to comment on that, therefore if Brownback didn't want the oppinoin of this young girl he shouldn't have put it out in public. She had every right not to apoligize because it was stictly an oppinoin that no one can change. The school district was better off stepping aside, it is her decsion to spoligize or not.

1/3/2012
Irving/TX
Austin M.
Bradley/Nimitz
I find it fairly ridiculous that Brownback's staff would complain about an innocent comment that a teenage girl wrote, simply because they didn't agree with it. I also find it disturbing that Emma Sullivan's principal called her into his office demanding she write a letter of apology. A school has no power over what a student does at home, especially on the internet. In my opinion, Brownback's staff was just singling out this teenager to make an example out of her, which clearly failed, and just made them look worse.

12/30/2011
Irving/ TX
Caterine Cruz
Bradley/ Nimitz
Emma Sullivan had the right to express what she wants. That is why we have amendment 1. to express our views and freedom of speech. If I was in her position I would have done the same thing. The school district did a bad thing by trying to make her apologize to the gov. She has the right to say what she feels. The government made a big deal about this when in reality they should focus their attention on other important thing around the world or rather in our county.

12/29/2011
Irving/ Tx
Tahira A.
Bradley/Nimitz High School
Twitter is a virtual form of a diary that people use to “tweet” about their life: what they are doing, how they are feeling, what opinions they have about a certain topic, etc. This online diary is a form of expression which ties in with the First Amendment. I honestly believe that the Kansas Governor's staff was overreacting and Emma Sullivan should not be punished for expressing her opinion. By being involved in the Youth in Government program, she was not obligated to agree with everything the Governor had said especially if she truly believes Sam Brownback is wrong. She was there to hear her governor's speech and has the right to express how she feels because she is entitled to her own opinion. She should be able to express that opinion on Twitter because that freedom of speech is granted to every United States citizen by the governments themselves. She should not get that right waived from her just because she didn't agree with her Governor's discussions. On the other hand, I do believe that Emma should have been a little more respectful to the governor because he is an authority figure. Furthermore, I give recognition to Emma for not writing the letter of apology because she truly did not do anything wrong. Expressing your opinion is not a crime nor a misdemeanor. If I were in Emma's shoes, I think I would apologize because I'm the type of that girl that just doesn't like to hurt anyone's feelings. I would still defend myself because I honestly feel like I didn't do anything wrong. Expressing an opinion online is not a crime, so there should not be a consequence.

12/27/2011
Irving/Texas
Jennifer N.
Bradley/Nimitz
As Americans, we are entitled to our own opinions, but there are ways that this power can be abused. Sure Emma Sullivan can express her opinions. It was wrong to flag her tweet. From an early age we are taught to express ourselves, but from an early age we are also taught: "if you don't have anything positive to say, then don't say it."

12/21/2011
Irving/TX
Nam Pham
Ms.Bradley/Nimitz
People working for the Kansas Governor take things to serious. I don't like the fact that the Kansas Governor's staff believe that the governor himself is some kind of higher being, and that anyone that is against the governor is going to be punished. The thing is, the governor and staff members are just about important as any other American citizen. Secondly, why were they on twitter in the first play? Why are they searching topics about the governor. Isn't that a violation of privacy? The school took this way out of hand. Instead of protecting the student freedom of speech, they instead side with the staff members. I believe this done because of panic and they were scared. I believe what she done was right. Nobody should be punish for free speech except for a few exception. If I was in her shoes I would have done the same thing. It's not like she was causing trouble, or harming anyone in any way. People must realize that criticizing a person doesn't change the personalty of a being.

12/19/2011
Irving
Juan M
Bradley/Nimitz
I believe that Emma did not do anything bad, she was just expressing her opinion against the govenor. The govenor's staff should have not file a complaint against her, it's a against the first amendment. And I agreed with the decision she made regarding being forced for writing. She did not need to write an apology letter to the govenor just for expressing her opinion. If I was her, I would have done the same thing and not write an apology letter.

12/16/2011
Irving/Texas
Shelby
Bradley/Nimitz
Emma was just stating her opinion, no one should have blown it out of proportion like the governor's office did. The school also should have not tried to make her apologize fr expressing her opinion, it is her right. She was in the right when she said no to apologizing. If i was in her shoes i would have done the exact same thing.

12/14/2011
Dallas/Texas
Lauren
Bradley/ nimitz
Tweeting is the new thing that is happening now and days. We tweet about our feelings, opinions and views. It is a way that we express ourselves to the world. But I do understand what the girl was coming from when she tweeted about the governor. It was her opinion on him and there should be no consequences for that because it is in the First Amendment that we have the freedom of speech, and therefor she did nothing wrong or against the law.

12/13/2011
Aurora. OH
Trevor
Mr.Frankmann/Harmon Middle School
Emma has her rights to freedom of speech but I can see why the governer's office was upset. She probably should of been a little more respectful and listened to the speech and tweeted later.

12/12/2011
Irving/TX
Sara
Bradley/Nimitz
The Governor's team overreacted to the insignificant tweet. There are a lot of other things that they could have focused their attention on, instead of a high school girl and her meaningless opinion. Going after her the way they did was unnecessary. Like it was said, there have been way more negative comments by more known people then this girl. The school district was just trying to compromise with the Governor's office, so the apology was just something to get them off their back. Since this was already public news. Refusing the apology was the natural reaction. She was in her rights to state an opinion. Yes, not everyone is going to like it or agree but how can you punish for a right. There wasn't a legitimate explanation given to her for how this tweet was wrong in her rights. It was an overreaction that was brought on by power they had. I wouldn't have changed a thing that she did in the situation.

12/12/2011
Montana
Taylor
Mrs. Campbell
Teenagers use social media to let out their emotions and state their opinions. Sometimes, teenagers don’t realize that once they post a comment on the internet, it is public….forever. When Emma Sullivan posted her opinion on Twitter about Governor Brownback, I bet she didn’t realize it would become so publicized. Although, it was most likely a not very appropriate statement, United States citizens have the freedom of speech. Therefore, there is no reason why Miss Sullivan should get in any trouble. If I were in her shoes, I can honestly say that I would feel bad; however, I don’t think it would be necessary to apologize about it. When engaging in social media, it is a person’s right to have complete freedom. The government can’t control everything.

12/12/2011
Rudyard, MT
ShelbyL.
Mrs. Campbell
Emma Sullivan’s tweet was well within her rights. Freedom of speech is given to anyone that is a United State citizen. I’m guessing she only posted it because she was bored and didn’t want to be at the Youth in Government program watching her Governor Brownback give a speech. I would also be that a good portion of the kids there were thinking the same thing. Why the Governor’s staff is so concerned with what an 18 year old high school girl is saying over adults that are involved in politics is confusing. She probably shouldn’t have posted that statement but she also didn’t expect the government to announce it to the rest of the country. Governor Brownback handled it very well and didn’t make a big deal out of it any more than it already had been. She shouldn’t have to apologize for saying something that she has the right to say.

12/11/2011
Irving/TX
Mariah B.
Bradley/Nimitz
Emma did absolutely nothing wrong in stating her opinion about the Governor Brownback on Twitter. First of all, the fact that it was an opinion shows that Emma was just exercising her freedom of speech as given to all by the First Amendment. This amendment was originally written by the Framers of the Constitution for one because they no longer wanted to be under the tyranny of having to stifle to their opinions about King George III and the British government. This situation mirrors Emma Sullivan's. Her older sister is right in saying that the Governor should be filling his time influencing positive change over the state in which he runs, not scrutinizing over a harmless tweet sent by a teenager to her friends. If I were in Emma's shoes, I would feel that I should not have to apologize, considering it is in my right to speak on my feelings of the government without ramifications. Instead I would exercise the freedom more, seeing how it obviously affected the government. More intelligent, youth voices should be heard, for we are living under this government as well, and we deserve to have an input.

12/11/2011
Irving, TX
Ali
Bradley/Nimitz
One of the best things about America is that we have the right to say whatever we want about our political leaders without having to worry about being arrested or executed. Americans have the right to agree and to disagree and can share their opinions with whomever they please. Emma Sullivan's comment about Governor Brownback is no exception. She was completely within her rights to stand by whatever probably insignificant comment she made and to refuse an apology letter. Even if her tweet was vulgar or totally uncalled for, there is nothing the government is allowed to do about it without violating rights.

12/11/2011
Aurora/Ohio
Maat V.
Frankmann/Harmon
I think depending on how you look at this she did both. SHe did a right and wrong thing in this situation. By law you have freedom of speech and freedom of speech allows you to give your opinion, and Emma gave her opinion about what she thought of the govenor. In the article on the left it states that she says, "i didn't actually say anything to face....." i think this really dosent make a difference if she says it to his face or not it is still freedom of speech. That was the right part of the story. The wrong about it was that it is mean to say things behind peoples back even thought it is legal. I think this really teaches us a lesson about the limit of were our freedom goes. She chose to take a risk and came out with an answer of we are aloud to have freedom of speech.

12/11/2011
Aurora, Ohio
Sheldon
Mr. Frankmann/Harmon Middle School
I think that all people in this article are to blame for the problem. Everybody is talking about how she has freedom of speech, which she does, but it doesn't really apply in this situation. She was talking Gov. Brownback down for no reason, and she claims that she had the right to say it. I think that that is taking advantage of the right. On the other hand, I think that it is a good thing that the governor's staff is monitoring Twitter and facebook and looking for inapropriate comments and things. They should be doing that, but before they reacted in such a manner, they could have taken into consideration the situation, looked at her followers, and seen that it was not a very big issue. The School district had a good reason to ask her to write a letter of apology, but again she took advantage of her freedom of speech. And,again, after saying those things, the least she could have done was apologize. It wouldn't hurt anybody, would it? I don't think so. If I were in her shoes I wouldn't have even written anything in the firts place, but I still would have acknolaged that what I did wasn't appropriate. I guess that this will be a learning experience for both sides of the issue, and will be used for future reference.

12/9/2011
Irving, Tx
Jose R.
Bradley/Nimitz
Emma Sullivan, in my opinion, did nothing wrong by posting tweets expressing her opinion of the governor. She has the right to express her freedom of speech and expression. She hasn't hurting anyone physically or threatening anyone. I give most of the blame to the press and the government for making more out of the tweet that was obviously not necessary. I think they took advantage of their power. The school district reacted wrongly by blaming her and trying to make her apologize. They should of realized earlier what was really happening and backed her up since the beginning. I understand that they might of reacted this way just to protect themselves from the government but it wasn't the best option. She has the right to refuse to apologize, specially if no actual harm was done. If I was in her shoes, I would have done the same thing. I would stand strong with my opinion and let the constitution speak for itself.

12/9/2011
Irving, TX
Cynthia G
Bradley/Nimitz
Emma Sullivan did nothing wrong by going out and giving her opinion. One thing that has always been said by the state is that people are allowed to protest and voice their opinions as long as they are not threatening or harming anyone, and Emma did none of this. Since a child I was brought up to stand by what I believe and to not be afraid to voice it, so why did the school district try and demand her to apologize. I believe that Emma did the right thing and refused to write the apology letter, she was not harming anyone, it was just a post. The United States wants people to give their opinions, and voice what they believe, but if they are going to go and do thing like this, then nobody is going to want to say anything. If I were in the same shoes as Emma, I would of done the same as her, if I was not harming anyone then nobody was going to make me apologize. In these days now people take one little thing and blow it out of proportion, nobody cant take criticism anymore.

12/9/2011
Irving/Tx
India B.
Bradley/Nimitz
It's her constitutional right to express what she thinks. Now, it might not have been courteous to say those things, but that doesn't change the fact that it should have been dealt with by the two individuals involved. The governor's team has no right to censor a high school student's opinion. I think Emma was absolutely right to refuse to issue an apology. I think that she should apologize privately to the governor, but what she does or does not say to him is no one's business but hers and the governor's.

12/9/2011
Irving/TX
Fatema J
Bradley/Nimitz
Emma Sullivan's tweet being flagged against the Kansas governor was more of an overreaction by the governor. Her remarks were probably made out of fun with her friends with no intention of harm. The fact that she was asked to apologize, basically violated her First Amendment rights, freedom of speech. She was right saying that it was her right to speak what she wants, and judging from the discussion, her comment seems to be not so bad compared to the overreaction made by the governor. I too might have had stood up for myself if I were asked to apologize for something that would indirectly violate my rights.

12/9/2011
Irving/Texas
Joan
Bradley/Nimitz
Flagging Emma Sullivan's tweet against a Kansas governor is ridiculous. Emma, only a senior high school student, tweeted remarks against the governor to have fun among her friends on Twitter with no harm intended. Under the Constitution, she was simply exercising her right to freedom of speech. The school district's reaction was the right thing to do. Just like the school district had said, Emma had the right to express her opinion, simply because her freedom of expression is “constitutionally protected.” If what she has done is protected by the Constitution, why should she apologize? She did not do a single thing wrong. She was a hundred percent right in refusing to apologize to the Kansas governor. If I were her, I would definitely have done the same thing. I would have also stood up for myself and state that my right to freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

12/8/2011
Irving/Tx
Karla V.
Bradley/Nimitz
I think that the governor's staff did over react at the tweet. They took it more of a significance than it should have been. I think that the school district acted respectfully to all these accusations given to the young girl. They said the right thing to the Action News by responding with facts. The right thing to do was for Emma to apologize even if it wasn't really her fault or intentional. If I was her I would have apologized but I would have been a little proud and stand up for myself before all these important people. We all have the right to express our opinions.

12/8/2011
Iowa
Aleena Lawson
Spencer High School
Kan. was in the right! She has freedom of speech and can should be able to say whatever she wants!

12/8/2011
Irving/Texas
Kathryn G.
Ms. Bradley/Nimitz H.S.
She had every right to comment on Governor Brownback. Her opinion is protected by the Constitution. Governor Brownback admitted himself that it was her right to do so. He was even the one to apologize to her about his staff's overreaction to the tweet. The issue should have just been resolved between the two involved. The school district cannot force her to apologize for her opinion, and they were only asked to do so because his staff was being absurd about a tweet that at most would only reach 60 people. Both Ms. Sullivan and Governor Brownback reacted appropriately. This was a small matter that didn't have to be so publicly broadcast nor overestimated in impacting society.

12/8/2011
Irving, TX
Jesse
Bradley/Nimitz
In reality, she does have the right to post what she wants about the governor since she is just exercising her 1st amendment rights. However, we don't know exactly how bad her post was in terms of vulgarity or belittlement. If her post was actually very bad in those terms then of course there would be a limit on that kind of speech. But based on the governor's reaction the post must not have been too bad, and therefore was ok to be protected by the Constitution. This case was simply a misunderstanding by both sides about how the amendments can be applied, and nobody was really at fault. The only thing is is that comments like these should be blocked by people who are much higher in office than an average citizen that are disrespecting another fellow member of the govt. in case of political mudslinging.

12/7/2011
Irving/Tx
Vanessa B.
Bradley/Nimitz
Emma Sullivan's tweet being flagged by the Kansas Governor's Office is absolutely ridiculous. She is allowed to speak her mind. This is a violation of her freedom of speech. They should be paying more attention to other comments being made by other people. I think the school district should be supporting her and telling the people she has the right to speak up about how she feels about Brownback. She was right in refusing to apologize because why should she apologize when multiple people post things about the higher people? She can say what ever she wants, anybody can. If I was in her shoes I would explain how they are trying to violate my freedom of speech. I would stand up for myself until I had my right to say what I want.

12/7/2011
Aurora, OH
Paige
Harmon
I think this discussion can go both ways. Although I think freedom of speech is important, but many people abuse it, like the girl who made rude comments about her governor. Although I think she has the right of freedom of speech, I think she took it too far by not only posting it on twitter where it was easily accessible to possibly the whole world, but making comments about her governor. I think she can be at fault for taking advantage of it, but she did have the right of freedom of speech. If I were her, I would take full blame for my actions, and would be more careful.

12/7/2011
Irving, TX
Diana C.
Bradley/ Nimitz
We don't really know exactly what she wrote, so our opinion might be vague. From what I read, his office exaggerated and overacted to something insignificant. There are lots of teenagers out there that post negative comments through Twitter or Facebook about government figures. What makes this cases any different I've seen other disrespectful comments online and they haven't caused a scandal like this one. It is her right to freedom of speech and it is constitutionally protected. She can say what ever she wants and the internet doesn't make it illegal. I am glad the district didn't punish her and understood her rights. If not, she would have been involved in another scandal. She can refuse to apologize legally but it would be morally appropriate for her to do it. The governor saw her comment and he might have been offended by it so it would be common-sense for her to apologize. If I was her, I would just say sorry and let everything go. This way it would stop being such a big deal.

12/7/2011
Irving, TX
Ashley Bo
Bradley/Nimitz
The governor's staff blew up over a small innocent comment on twitter. The staff overreacted. I am sure that there are thousands of other people who post negative comments about politicians on social network sites before. People can do that if they want to. In fact, people do that all the time. You cannot stop someone from talking about negative things about a person. The school district's reaction was typical. The school district wanted Emma Sullivan to apologize so the school district will not look bad since the incident is the talk of the national news. I think it was right of Emma Sullivan to refuse to apologize. People should say what they want. If I was in her shoes, I would do the same thing as her. I would refuse to write a letter and an apology.

12/7/2011
Irving/TX
Luz V
Bradley/Nimitz
Emma Sullivan had every right to post what ever opinion she had about the governor on Twitter. First of all, she had freedom of speech in her corner – she wasn't trying to hurt Gov. Brownback, she was just sharing a thought with her friends. Second, this was completely blown out of proportion but the governor's staff – an 18 year-old's tweet can't have an impact on his career and they only brought attention to an other-wise invisible opinion by demanding an apology. Third, the school district was right in determining that it was more important to defend an individual's right to express herself than to force her to do something unnecessary. Emma Sullivan's tweet was an innocent thought, and that's all it should have remained as.

12/7/2011
Irving/Tx
Azaria
Bradley/Nimitz
To be honest, I think that the governor's staff overreacted. The governor, being in the position he is in, is going to be open to a lot of negative comments. It is our constitutionally protected right to say negative things about our political leaders, as long as we believe that to be true and that what we say is in fact our opinion. The governor's staff should learn to live with these negative comments, as there will be a lot more to come if people don't like the way he is doing things while in office. As a office holder, he will most likely be subject to a lot more than these tweets. Emma was right to refuse to write an apology letter. She shouldn't have to apologize to anyone for speaking, or in this case tweeting, her opinion.

12/7/2011
Irving/texas
Aubrey M.
Bradley//Nimitz
The Governor's staff was being ridiculous. The fact that these adults cared so much about what a high school senior posted on a social networking website, is asinine. The school district needs to man up. They should encourage students to say what the feel. Emma was totally right in refusing to apologize. She did nothing wrong. If I were in her shoes, I'd want to do the same thing.

12/7/2011
Irving/TX
Michael P.
Bradley/Nimitz
I think Emma's tweet about the governor was an intended to be an innocent comment but it somehow blew up into a national story, which shows the danger of the internet in situations such as this. I believe she has a right to freedom of speech, but the fact that she was granted all of this unwanted attention is a real eye opener to the subject of internet and politics. This issue is the greatest example of how the internet has opened doors for potentially new crimes in our future. The fact that anybody anywhere in the world can post their thoughts online where virtually everybody can find who you are at any moment, is a tool that can be used and abused by politicians. The Wiener incident this year is another example of how the internet can be misused and ultimately hurt society more than help it. I believe the school reacted according to the tone they got from the governors reaction. I can understand the reaction the school district took in such an important matter. I believe she is right to not apologize but at the same time its not the civil thing to do. When people make mistakes such as make a comment about someone that offends them or their peers you apologize and I believe that she got too wrapped up in the idea that she has free speech to preform her civil duty. If I was in her shoes I would have never had made the comment on twitter in the first place. If you don't have anything really worth saying, don't say it. Even if its on the internet.

12/7/2011
Irving, TX
Tambra
Bradley, Nimitz
I'm pretty sure all the officials involved overreacted hugely. Making jokes, or political comments, on the internet is something people need to live with, especially when they're not particularly harmful- obviously, one 18-year olds negative comment on a twitter followed by around sixty people, who are likely of her age and general opinion already, is not something that's going to hurt a Governor of any state. Not only that, but a person’s right to freedom of speech is something everyone in this country (at least) claims to protect fiercely. I think that we should not let politeness ruin political commentary- I would never have written a letter of apology for something like this, and I think it’s ridiculous to expect that from someone. Using Twitter and Facebook and blogs to advertise your own opinion is a radically underused resource- if Emma Sullivan has an opinion about a political figure, it’s her right and her duty to state it- that’s the whole point of our competitive election system, and the I believe that, in the very near future, the best, and perhaps the only, way “the people” will be heard is through their personal social media. I think making the bureaucracy concede that social media is a legitimate form of expression is the first step to making use of it possible.

12/7/2011
Irving,Tx
Rosa L
Bradley/Nimitz
The Governor's office was right in flagging Emma Sullivan's comment because it could be the start of something that could potentially damage his career. The school district did a good thing by letting Sullivan take the fall for her own actions. Everyone has the right to say what he or she pleases but that doesn't mean that one should say it. If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all. She should have apologized for having offended the governor even if she didn't mean to. First of all, if I were in her shoes I would have never tweeted about someone that I know very little about. Second, I would not tweet something that could bring a bad image to someone even someone I dislike.

12/6/2011
Aurora, Ohio
Oliver H.
Harmon Middle School
One and all in this situation deserve equal blame, in my opinion. First of all, I acknowledge every citizen’s right of speech. No one should be punished by what they say, it is written right there in the U.S. Constitution. Although this is a right, I feel many people are taking advantage of it, especially on Twitter and Facebook. There was no need to criticize Sam Brownback in an unenthusiastic way, particularly where many people can see it. How would you feel if someone were to say negative things about you and tell many people? You have enough problems in your life, right? Well so does the United States of America. The U.S.A. does not need any more problems. The reason Brownback and his staff should be equally held responsible is because of their immaturity. They are equally childish as Emma Sullivan. Like Emma's older sister, Olivia, stated, it is a waste of time and mistreatment of their power. They should be worrying about political issues and using their demanding schedules to deal with that, not to pinpoint a high school student who said a measly 140-character remark. I do respect that Governor Brownback noticed this girl’s rights and made a point to say he regretted and was sorry about the whole condition. This situation appears to be more in the personal life of these people. Besides, a fully grown man should care less of what a teenager says about him, unless it is for the good of the people and country. Although bad-mannered comments are unnecessary, overreacting over a comment is unnecessary as well. This is a ridiculous situation. As I said previously, all people caught up in these affairs should share alike blame.

12/6/2011
Irving/TX
Angelica R
Bradley/ NImitz
Emma Sullivan's tweet was harmless. I mean Brownback's staff shouldn't have been looking for twitter post. Her school's reaction was just taking action, but I don't think she should have been asked to write a apology letter. It's her opinion and she has the right to express it, whether anyone likes it or not. If I was in her shoes I most certainly would not have written an apology letter, just for expressing my opinion.

12/6/2011
Aurora Ohio
Tommy
Frankman Harman
I think that she was right not to right an apologie letter because we as americans have the freedom of speech and we should not have that taken away

12/6/2011
Irving/Texas
Carmen
Bradley/Nimitz
In my opinion, there was nothing wrong with what Sullivan said. She has a right to criticize as long as it is not taken too far. And like she mentioned, there are mush worse things that were most likely said by people higher up than her. Everyone has a right to their own opinion about people. That was he page and only her friends were reading it, not the whole world. The school districts these days are so afraid of getting in trouble by everyone. They forget what they are really there for..the kids! Kids are taught to form their own opinion and to be independent, and when they contradict themselves by saying oh no, you can not state your opinion, then that takes back almost everything they teach and everything this country is about.

12/6/2011
Irving/Texas
Kirstin F.
Bradley/Nimitz
I think it was uncalled for to flag her tweet. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should be able to express it. If the governor didn't want people to have a negative opinion about him then he shouldn't have become a politician. Everyone knows no one person is every only going to have positive opinions about them and they should expect some negative things to be said. I think she school district had absolutely no right to tell her she had to apologize and she was completely right for refusing to. If I were in her position I would ask what I said that offended the governor and why it offended him before i even considered apologizing. I would also want to know why it matter what a kid in high school was saying in the first place because honestly how many people go and read a teenagers twitter to get their political opinions. that's what the media is for.

12/6/2011
Benson, AZ
Cody
Mr. Sorensen/ Benson High School
I think she had the right to post the tweet, after all it is Freedom of Speech. Now Emma has to deal with the consequence of that tweet haunting her for the rest of her life because its on the internet and will never go away.

12/6/2011
Irving/Tx
Lindsey J,
Bradley/Nimitz
I think that in the end it is freedom of speech. I don't think that Emma Sullivan expected all of those people of the governer himself to see what she had said. I think the saw it as harmless jokes and voicing her opinion about her local government and didnt see any harm in it.

12/4/2011
Irving/Texas
Marcus A.
Bradley/Nimitz High School
I understand why the Kansas Governor’s Office chose to flag a mere 140-character remark. Emma Sullivan had no good intentions in bashing the governor with her friends. Her inability to control herself from ridiculing the man shows how immature she really is. The fact that she, like most teenagers, feels entitled to stir up trouble online only foreshadows the many more problems our country has to face. Thus, her tweet deserves to receive national recognition as respect is becoming less and less valued. But I also understand why the school district decided to eventually remain clear of the issue. The school district thankfully realized that Sullivan was the one to make the comment, making her responsible for the action. Whether she writes an apology letter or not is her business. And her refusal to right such a letter is indeed supportable, for the government should not infringe upon our individual rights in school. However, Sullivan was right for the wrong reason. Allowing her to shove off this apology will only give her permission to publicly demean other people online. Because of the outcome of the controversy, teenagers now think they can say whatever they want – wherever they want. In a way, this is true, but we need to remember that this is a privilege. Constitutional laws are extending to the Internet world in that if you hurt a person online, you will suffer the consequences. If I were in Sullivan’s shoes, I would apologize to Governor Brownback for my uncalled-for tweet. I would thank him for staying mature throughout the entire ordeal, and I would ask if there is anything I could do to redeem myself. Disrespectful comments are unnecessary; social decorum must be preserved.

12/2/2011
Montgomery/ Texas
Heather Schultz
Metzger/ Montgomery High School
The issue in this discussion should be frowned apon on. I believe that Emma Sullivan should have the right to say whatever she wants about whoever she wants, but the way she did about it was very disrespectful. If I were placed in her shoes and had made a negative comment about someone so important, like our Governor I would own up to my responbilies and apologized. Yes she has freedom of speech. We all do, but that doesn't mean we should write disrespectful comments about others. If she had something to say about his way of doing things or politics then she could have approched the matter in a manerly way than twitter.

12/1/2011
Steger/Illinois
Izabella
Mrs. Tweet/Bloom Trail High Shool
Let's face it we all have Facebooks and Twitters nowadays and some us do make harsh criticisms about other people. Emma Sullivan does have the right for freedom of speech, as we all do, and in her mind she might feel that an apology is not necessary because of this. Although, I believe people shouldn't need to post such negative comments about other people (especially if not much is known about the other person.) The person on the opposite end might see a different side to the story that the poster is unaware of and it might offend them. If this happens an apology letter would not hurt anyone and shows that the poster relized that they might have gone to far. It is okay to not agree with another person and you do have the right to post and criticize others, but please do it in a more humble, professional way.

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