Teen's Freedom to Tweet Causes Staff Overreaction and Kansas Governor's Apology
It's all about "freedom of tweets!" Tweeting is protected speech, so a high school senior found out after she tweeted that Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, "sucked." This was one of a number epithets that prompted a swift response by the Capitol staff and a demand by her principal that she apologize to the governor for her caustic, cryptic twitterings.
Turn around is fair play. After consideration and sustained ridicule, an apology did occur. Surprise! It was from the Republican governor. Brownback admitted that his zealous staff overreacted to the teen's flutters. Staff guilty of attempting to strong arm teen's personal opinions on a social media platform? Are his staff working for or against Brownback?
Salman Rushdie used the power of ridicule on Twitter to turn around Facebook's dilatory customer support in reactivating his account using his celebratory authorial name. Though the teen might not have read about Rushdie's problems and victory against Facebook using Twitter, she, too, harnessed Twitter power when she tweeted her difficulties with her principal and Brownback.
Emma Sullivan, an 18-year-old from a Kansas City suburb probably never imagined she'd be taking on the governor when she went to the Youth in Government program in Topeka. There from the back of a crowd, listening to Brownback's speech, and using social media speak, Sullivan tweeted, "Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person (hash)heblowsalot."
The joke for friends turned into a disaster for Sullivan. Monitoring social media for postings containing the governor's name, Brownback's office contacted the youth program. Told to report to the principal's office, Sullivan confronted the principal who told her to apologize in writing to the governor.
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Sullivan refused and tweeted about the episode which went "tweeteral." Like Rushdie's ad hoc defenders who supported him, Sullivan's supporters exponentially multiplied from 61 followers to more than 12,000 in less than a week, by the way completely swamping Brownback's followers three to one. Twitterees rushed to Sullivan's defense against Brownback and his overzealous, overweening staff, until Brownback's name was an embarrassment, ridiculed for using a sledge hammer against a flea. Unwittingly hoisted on his own petard by those in his own camp, Brownback was forced to apologize upholding the American right to freedom of speech, in this case freedom to tweet.