The story of Emma Sullivan is one of my favorites of the year. Sullivan is the eighteen year old high school student who tweeted that Kansas Governor Sam Brownback "sucked" after his visited her school earlier in the day.
The college-bound senior disagrees with Republican Governor’s positions on abortion and gay rights.
Sullivan thought the tweet to her 60 Twitter followers would go mostly unnoticed, but then she got called to the principal's office.
Doing a routine search of the governor's name on social-networking sites, Brownback's communications director, Sherienne Jones-Sontag, found Sullivan's tweets and reached out to her school to demand an apology. Sullivan's principal acquiesced, and ordered Sullivan to draft an apology to send to the governor.
Sullivan refused, and Brownback was ultimately forced to apologize after the story was reported by the media and gained national attention.
"My staff overreacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms."
This story is good on so many levels.
As a frequent challenger of authority in high school and beyond, I always love a story in which the little guy with the big mouth wins.
I am also an ardent supporter of First Amendment rights and have been forced to defend my own First Amendment privileges in the past when those who disagree with my opinion seek to silence me or otherwise hinder my wellbeing. I am also happy to see the First Amendment score a victory for those under attack for their willingness to speak out and express their opinion.
But best of all, it’s a rare and glorious day when the person stupid enough to demand an apology is then forced to apologize instead.
As you may know, I am a frequent critic of the demanded apology.
It’s the kind of scenario so good that you’d think it too contrived if presented in a movie or on television. But in real life, it’s the best of all possible circumstances.
Emma Sullivan. One of my heroines of 2011.