In the lawless land of Twitter, only the witty survive.
That’s the lesson learned by Kansas governor Sam Brownback, who got himself in a PR dustup after his staff tried to force a high-school student to apologize for making fun of the governor on Twitter. Here is the tale of how 18-year-old Emma Sullivan won a public staredown with a U.S. governor.
From ABC News:
Sullivan, who was present at a Brownback speech for a Youth in Government event, wrote on Twitter last week that she “just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person.” (In her Tweet, Sullivan used the hashtag #heblowsalot.)
After she posted the comment, Brownback’s office, which monitors Tweets that mention the governor, contacted Youth in Government about the comment. School administrators sided with the governor and asked her to write the governor a letter of apology, Sullivan said, according to the Associated Press.
The high school senior, who has said that the Tweet was a joke and that she did not actually make the comment referenced on her Twitter account, refused to apologize.
As the school realized, there’s no real way to force someone to apologize if they really don’t want to. In the wake of Sullivan’s refusal, Brownback was forced to back away from his staff’s assertions.
“My staff over-reacted to this tweet and for that I apologize,” the governor wrote in a statement, “freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms.”
What a victory for the forces of good! We don’t want to live in a world where a high-schooler is compelled by her school to apologize for saying — outside of a school environment — that an elected official “blows.” After all, if they come for our “blows,” and we say nothing, will they also come for our “craps” and our “sucks”?