Kansas Teen’s Tweet of Dissent Goes Viral

Most people know that one’s social media presence must be well managed, lest potential employers, college admissions officers, or would-be beaux got the wrong idea. But what if your state governor was the one who got the wrong idea about you? That’s just the question Emma Sullivan, an eighteen-year-old high school senior from Kansas, had to grapple with last week.

Shortly before Thanksgiving break, Sullivan went to the Kansas state Capitol for a Youth in Government program. While there, she tweeted “Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot.” The “he” in the tweet’s hashtag refers to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, who’s a conservative Republican.

The governor’s sharp-eyed social media sleuths spotted the tweet and, rather quickly, the administrators at Emma Sullivan’s high school, Shawnee Mission East, issued a request that Sullivan address a letter of apology to the governor. The plucky teenager refused and her plight garnered mass media attention. A big spectacle was created and today the governor himself released a letter of apology to Sullivan, declaring: “My staff overreacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms.”

Sullivan currently has 12,436 Twitter followers. For anyone who’s wondering, the governor has 3,285 followers.

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