Oh, Sam Brownback, one of the Senate's old advocate for human rights in North Korea who decamped to Kansas, USA after the last election is back in the news, and not in a good way.
As the story goes -- Shawnee Mission East senior Emma Sullivan, 18 and apparently newly registered voter went with a group of students to the statehouse for a Youth in Government program.
Must have been exciting, she tweeted:
Oops! Except that it's not even true ... she did not actually said that to the guv, but she did tweet it.
Normally, a tweet like that gets overtaken by well, a whole lot of noise in the twitterverse.
But not this time. Apparently, Governor Brownback's office monitor social media comments over there in Kansas and saw this tweet. And so the highschooler was reported by the governor's office to Youth in Government officials. When this hit the news, Gov. Brownback’s spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag then said, “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.”
Holy molly guacamole .... where or where did this woman learn her public affairs skills, from Vladimir Putin's Russia?
So then, the highschooler was called into the principal's office where Mr. Krawitz, the principal asked her to write a letter of apology to Governor Brownback and his staff. Apparently, Monday was the due date for the letter.
In the meantime, #heblowsalot started picking up on Twitter.
Somebody even bothered to make a poster here and here.
I imagined it was a rough weekend over there in Kansas. As if the bad publicity was not enough, there is also a fake Sam Brownback Twitter account. And in the last 24 hours, a Govblowsalot account, specializing in twittermockery was born.
Then Monday came, and the school district, after a weekend of adverse publicity released the following statement:
"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.Also on Monday, at 10:46am, Governor Brownback's statement regarding Emma Sullivan's tweet was posted on Facebook:
"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.
"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."
Topeka – Kansas Governor Sam Brownback issued the following statement today regarding the tweet by Emma Sullivan:
“My staff over-reacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms.
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.”
Yep, Emma, you're not in Kansas, Russia.
As of this writing, Emma Sullivan http://twitter.com/#!/emmakate988 has 11,264 followers, up from 60.
The official Gov. Brownback account http://twitter.com/#!/govsambrownback is holding on to its 3,230 followers.
And the guv's social media monitoring shop just got a heck lot more stuff to monitor.