Make no mistake about it, Sam Brownback really does suck.
By now you have probably heard the stink over 18 year old high school student Emma Sullivan sent a tweet from a Brownback speech that she ”Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot.” It turns out that whatever she meant by “in person,” she didn’t have a face to face confrontation with Gov. Blowsalot.
Frankly, the tweet is rather amusing and would have hardly been noticed if it weren’t for Gov. Blowsalot’s staff who are assigned to monitor tweets about the insecure opponent of free speech who currently occupies the Governor’s office in Kansas. They reported the tweet to the Youth in Government program and her school. Although Sullivan later admitted she didn’t actually make the direct comment to the governor, her school principal Karl R. Krawitz demanded that she submit to Brownback a letter of apology. The governor also subsequently what has been described as hundred of critical comments on his Thanksgiving Facebook message.
On Monday Gov. Blowsalot tried to do some fancy dancing and save face as he issued an apology to Emma in a public statement. ”My staff over-reacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms. I enjoyed speaking to the more than 100 students who participated in the Youth in Government Program at the Kansas Capitol. They are our future. I also want to thank the thousands of Kansas educators who remind us daily of our liberties, as well as the values of civility and decorum. Again, I apologize for our over-reaction.”
My question is, what exactly is the Tea Party Governor doing using paid staff to monitor Twitter and other social networking sites? Presumably these staff members are on the State payroll and engaging in the monitoring of free speech – in this case by an adult constituent, whether she is still in high school or not – and then taking action to curtail that freedom of speech because they object to its content. Unless the Governor is a cognitively impaired – and while I agree he is misguided and does, indeed, blow a lot, I don’t believe he is cognitively impaired, at least in the clinical sense – he would have proscribed the actions of his staff. No staffer is going to call a student’s high school and seek to have disciplinary action brought against her unless that staffer was operating under the guidelines established by their employer. Now comes Gov. Blowsalot seeking to remove himself from responsibility by saying that his staff over-reacted, thereby implying that they acted without his permission. It turns out that one of the many things Gov. Blowsalot is short on is integrity. At least he’s not alone among politicians in lacking integrity.
What concerns me most is the ongoing assault in this Country on Freedom of Speech. Conservatives have never been big proponents of free speech, unless it is in the context of their bizarre interpretation of the non-establishment clause, but one consequence of Americans surrendering their rights in the post 9-11 era has been increased government intervention in the daily lives of average Americans and increased attempts at censorship. Sensing perhaps that the Empire is slipping away, the reigns are being tightened. Tightening of the reigns always leads to the demise of the Institution, regardless of what type of Institution it is – a lesson that any intelligent person should have learned by now from the demise of traditional Christianity. On the other hand, perhaps because so many conservative politicians are in bed with conservative religious types, they can’t see the forest for the trees.