Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cheers to Governor Brownback

High school senior Emma Sullivan got in trouble for sending a rude and disparaging tweet about the Governor of Kansas, after her student group had a chance to meet him. One of the governor's staffers complained about her behavior, and her school asked her to apologize. Emma refused. Evidently she did not feel sorry either for her sentiments, which of course she had every right to express, or for her language, which we are supposed to accept as normal teenage-speak these days. (I have teenagers, so I can attest that according to them, everything they disapprove of "sucks.") The school finally decided to back Emma Sullivan up.

In some earlier times, this story might have involved the student's suspension, general public condemnation, and perhaps a long, drawn-out battle between the forces of dissent and the forces of propriety. Instead--who would have thought?--it turned out yesterday that it was Governor Brownback who ended up being the one to apologize, for his staff's over-reaction to Emma's comment. In so doing, the governor recognized that "freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms." Perhaps not a proud day for the champions of polite language (although we have to recognize that the boundaries of acceptable language are always changing); but definitely a proud day for the First Amendment.

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