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Posted at 03:00 AM ET, 11/28/2011

Should tweeting teen apologize to Kansas governor?

Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill.

Here’s the story, as reported by the Kansas City Star:

A senior from Shawnee Mission East High School went with some students to Topeka to learn about the political process. They listened to a speech by Gov. Sam Brownback and during the event, Emma Sullivan, 18, tweeted this from the back of the crowd: “Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person...”

She hadn’t actually said anything of the kind to Brownback, but The Kansas City Star reported, she said she sent the tweet as a joke to her friends.

That would have been that — except Brownback’s director of communications, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, saw the tweet, didn’t like it a bit and shared it with the Youth In Government program, which had brought the students to Topeka.

Karl R. Krawitz, the principal of Sullivan’s school, was alerted and called her in for a lecture that lasted nearly an hour, the newspaper reported. She was told, she said, that she had embarrassed the school and that “damage control” was necessary.

So Krawitz ordered Sullivan to write an apology to Brownback — and it is due on Monday. She told the Associated Press she has no intention of apologizing because she isn’t sorry.

So should she apologize for saying that she said something to Brownback that she didn’t really say?

Actually, here are some better questions:

How did the adults in this episode manage to allow a disrespectful — and obviously untruthfuly — but ultimately silly tweet make them look foolish?

What is the governor’s spokesperson doing getting a high school student in trouble for a nonsense tweet?

What is a high school principal doing demanding the student make an unnecessary apology to placate the governor’s office?

Is it too obvious to point out that the students were on a trip to learn about the political process and that Sullivan’s First Amendment rights seem to have been abridged here? Last I looked, Americans were allowed to express disrespectful comments about their political leaders.

If Sullivan had been tweeting against school rules (as in, no tweeting on trips to Topeka to learn about the political process), the punishment should hardly be an apology to the governor.

Let’s hope the principal realizes his mistake and allows this whole thing to go away fast.

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By  |  03:00 AM ET, 11/28/2011

 
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