Emma Sullivan, 18, a Shawnee Mission East High School student, says she will not write a letter of apology to Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas as she was instructed to do by the principal of her school.
During a Kansas Youth in Government trip to the Kansas state capitol on November 21, 2011, Sullivan wrote to her 60-some followers on Twitter:
Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot
A Brownback staffer saw the tweet on Twitter and contacted the school about the disrespectful and untrue message, as the governor and Sullivan never spoke one-on-one. In response to the contact, Sullivan was called into the principal’s office and told that she had embarrassed the school. The principal, Dr. Karl Krawitz, was allegedly upset and told her that he had some damage control to do. Part of the damage control was apparently demanding that the student write an apology to Gov. Sam Brownback and his staff by Monday. Reports say that Dr. Krawitz even made some suggestions to assist her with the assignment.
On Saturday, the student said she would not write the letter.
I don’t think I should write the letter, and I don’t think it would be the best move for me. At this time, I do not think an apology would be a sincere thing for me to do.
While saying that she hopes the incident will bring up the issue of free speech, she was quoted as saying:
I hope that the governor realizes the power of the people and how people can make things happen. I also hope he will spend his time doing more productive things.
Emma Sullivan. who resides in a suburb of Kansas City named Fairway, appears to brush aside the fact that words are powerful, too, and they can hurt and embarrass. She also ignores the part of the story that admits the message was a lie, as she never spoke to the governor though she wrote that she did.
When students travel with a school, they represent the school. There are many who are finding Sullivan’s actions as selfish and – in a twisted sense – self-serving while her school wallows in justified embarrassment from her immature actions. While the school is quite aware that the local and state governments fund schools, it is apparently of no concern to Sullivan who travelled on the school’s and government’s dime for a day in the state capitol.
Disrespecting someone, saying it’s a joke, and wanting the situation to go away is a form of bullying which schools are trying to eliminate in this country. Therefore, even though Sullivan says her parents and friends support her decision to just move on without an apology, it is felt by many that the principal’s concern and attempt at resolution via the requested letter of apology is indeed justified.
Young adult students like Emma Sullivan who are not children anymore need to be kept back in class to do some educational activities at the school during field trips if such tweeting is their idea of an appropriate activity during a school-sponsored, government-sponsored field trip to the state capitol. As Dorothy said in the Kansas-based Wizard of Oz: There’s no place like home – there’s no place like home. In Emma’s case, Dorothy was right on target. Perhaps staying home with her parents who approve of her actions would be the best thing for Emma to do.
Sullivan’s written apology obviously would have eased criticism and moreover would have ended the story, but Sullivan apparently wants to have the last word and extend her 15 minutes of the dubious spotlight. If she ever attempts to get a (government) job, she will likely wish she had made the civil response and had written the letter to end the story here and now. After all, being a senior in high school, she should have some concern about her extended future and not only her next 15 minutes.
UPDATE: Gov. Brownback gave an indirect apology by stating: ‘My staff over-reacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms.
Sullivan’s reaction to the apology less than gracious, as she said: ‘I’m disappointed that he didn’t say anything directly to me…’
Source: CNN and COMMENTARY
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