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Monday, November 28, 2011

Gov. #HeBlowsALot Gets a Civics Lesson

Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot

I think Emma Sullivan, an 18 year-old high school student in Fairway, Kansas, is correct. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback blows a lot. As a Senator, Brownback ran in 2008 as one of the rightest of the rightwing presidential candidates. Obviously, he was unsuccessful. So he went back to Kansas to become one of the rightest of the rightwing governors in America.

For some reason, Brownback's office was surprised to learn that extremists are often criticized by voters. Sullivan's twitter problem began at a Youth in Government program last week in Topeka. Brownback greeted the group and she tweeted the line from the event. Needless to say, this was the worst thing ever.

Wichita Eagle:

On Tuesday, Sullivan was called to her principal's office and told that the tweet had been flagged by someone on Brownback's staff and reported to organizers of the Youth in Government program.

The principal "laid into me about how this was unacceptable and an embarrassment," Sullivan said. "He said I had created this huge controversy and everyone was up in arms about it... and now he had to do damage control."


"I'm mainly shocked that they would even see that tweet and be concerned about me," she said. "I just honestly feel they're making a lot bigger deal out of it than it actually was."

Sullivan didn't actually say anything to Brownback, but said she her friends had been "joking about what they’d really like to say (to Brownback), so I just took out my phone."

So, of course something had to be done. Sullivan was ordered by her principal to write a letter of apology and had "even suggested talking points" to hit in the letter.

It's at this point that you're probably thinking, "This is all very stupid." And you'd be correct. Probably the most stupid -- and disturbing -- part being that Brownback's office has people searching social media, looking for criticism to stamp out (this incident has given those people a lot of work to do, by the way).

But this is more than the story of a thin-skinned governor whose political paranoia has reached an obviously Nixonian level. It's an example of how empty the words "liberty" and "freedom" are when they come out of Republicans' mouths -- even as they act as if they're the sole protectors of them. The conservative bent is not libertarian as they'd like us to believe, but authoritarian. Or, more accurately, libertarianism mixed with socialism for people who can write the big checks, authoritarianism for everyone else.

Think of something like the PATRIOT Act or applause for Rick Perry's record of executions. Think of the passionate defense of things like warrantless wiretapping and torture. Think of "personhood" laws which would make every miscarriage a crime scene in which the woman had to be cleared of "fetal homicide."

These people aren't big fans of freedom. And they certainly aren't enemies of intrusive government -- in fact, when government intrudes, they're largely responsible for it. These people are authoritarian to their core.

It's not the people who talk about freedom and liberty the most who love it best, it's the people who stand up for it. For her part, Emma Sullivan is refusing to write Brownback a letter of apology -- proving that she understands the concepts of liberty and freedom much, much better than her governor. It's Brownback who owes Sullivan -- and the rest of the citizens in his state -- an apology, not the other way around.


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