Sam Brownback Apologizes for Overreacting to Teenage Tweeter

Over the weekend, Brandon posted about Kansas high schooler Emma Sullivan, who met Governor Sam Brownback on a field trip, and then got in a heap of trouble after tweeting her thoughts about him:

BrownbackAfter her visit, Emma Tweeted of her time with the anti-gay, anti-Palestinian, anti-evolution, anti-stem-cell-research governor:

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

Apparently, Emma Sullivan didn't actually tell Gov. Brownback that he "sucked, in person." Still, she thinks he sucks. So — how did Gov. Brownback respond to this teenager's assault on his non-sucktitude? His staff contacted her school's principal. Now, Emma's got to write a letter to the governor apologizing for voicing her opinions.

Now, Brownback has apologized for overreacting, LJ World reports:

Said Brownback: “My staff overreacted 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.”

The paper adds:

Sullivan said she landed in the principal’s office for nearly an hour and was told she had embarrassed her school and district. Principal Krawitz told her to write a letter of apology. At first Sullivan said that she would but that she wasn’t sorry. Then she refused to apologize, and the Shawnee Mission school district earlier Monday issued a statement saying she didn’t have to.

“The district acknowledges a student’s right to freedom of speech and expression is constitutionally protected,” the district’s statement said, adding, “The issue has resulted in many teachable moments concerning the use of social media.”


  1. justinw says

    Translation: he knew he was going to have the mother and father of all free-speech lawsuits being leveled against him, and that it was all going to be played out *very* publicly. Weasel.

  2. Tim NC says

    Ha sit been reported anywhere how Brownback’s office found out about the original tweet?

    I saw what was reported to be her tweet and it was only sent to her followers and not to Brownback. She says she only had about 65 followers at the time. So, which of her 65 “friends” passed the info along to the governor’s office and caused this furor?

  3. Mitch says

    The teachable moments are not so much about social media as the ass-itude of bullying politicians and the protections of free speech and expression. If there is a lesson about social media, it’s about the speed that the wrong-doings of the governor (or as he threw under the bus – his staff) became public.

    We owe Emma thanks for exposing Brownback and his bigotry (i.e. that he sucks) to a wider audience.

  4. say what says

    the teachable moment wasn’t about social media but rather the constitution, freedom of speahc, and how a teenager can become a multi-millionaire by suing an idiot governor and school system

  5. Rick says

    Something I have long wondered about: The word “sucks” is slang for….well, we all know what it means.

    My question is: Did this use of the word not originate as a put-down of gay men by basically referring to the fact that they sucked c@ck? And the variations on it: “blows”, “sucks a$$”, etc…….are they not derived from the same origin?

    And if that is the case, should we not be offended by it?

    Serious question.

  6. Caliban says

    What’s unintentionally hilarious about this is the Right is always whining about how their “1st Amendment Rights” are being abused when citizens complain or threaten boycotts about something they said. But that’s not what the 1st Amendment says at all; it just says the GOVERNMENT can’t censor your speech.

    Brownback and his staff ARE the government though, so this was a blatant attempt to abridge this student’s rights. Did Fox News or anyone from the perpetually offended Right speak out against it?

  7. RyanInSacto says

    Rick: Is that a serious question? Are you under the impression that women don’t perform fellatio? Gay men may be, on average, better at it, but we are not the only ones who do it!

  8. Rick says

    @RyaninSacto True, but the vast majority of women dislike it (half will absolutely not do it under any circumstances–and yes, I can show you the empirical data to back this up)…..whereas the vast majority of gay men love it. So there is an undeniable link in the popular mind between gay men and fellatio……and there has, of course, always been a strongly negative view of gay men among the general population–which has never been the case with women–especially way back when, when the term “sucks” became part of the general lexicon.

    So my question remains……isn’t “sucks” a put-down of anybody who performs fellatio, but especially of gay men, with whom the practice is overwhelmingly associated in the broader culture

  9. RyanInSacto says

    Rick: there has never been a strongly negative view of women? LMAO

    I don’t even know if this is worth debating, but I would guess that the answer to your question is something like the following:
    In western civilization, as far back as ancient Greece and perhaps before, there has been a bias against the supposed submissive sex partner. The person who does the sucking (or who is the receptive partner in intercourse) is seen, whether accurately or not, as dominated. So, I suspect that this domination-submission paradigm is the source of the negativity associated with sucking. Similarly, when we say that something is totally f@cked, we are also saying that thing is bad. And, similarly, this isn’t a homophobic slur but perhaps a position-phobic one.

  10. Scott says

    Also- Why should someone who hates us and constantly refutes out rights as Anerican citizens and humans be defended?

    Brownback is not just anti- marridge equality- he’s vehemently anti- gay.

    So yeah- he sucks!!!!

  11. Rick says

    @RyaninSacto You know what I meant. Women married men–men who loved them–and mothered male children–who loved their mothers–etc. etc. Women have always been a part of mainstream society and an intimate part of men’s lives, whereas gay men have been considered the lowest of the low and were social outcasts for much of history.

    As for your suggestion that “sucks” is not so much a homophobic slur as a position-phobic one (good point about “f@cked), it is worth noting that gay men who are exclusive tops have never been any more accepted by society than those who are exclusive bottoms, so I am not sure I am buying that.

    Regardless, I think you are agreeing that “sucks” constitutes a derogatory reference to someone who is performing fellatio……and therefore, to get back to my original point….that being the case, why is it that gay men not only don’t seem to object to it, but use it themselves (as do women, by the way)?

  12. RyanInSacto says

    Rick: Women, by law, couldn’t vote in the United States for the first 144 years of the nation’s existence. Gay people have never been denied that right. Does that one example suggest anything to you, at all, about how women have been viewed? You say women married “men who loved them.” Yes, they loved them just enough to let them cook and care for them, bear their children, and die as second class citizens. “Women have always been part of mainstream society?” Almost by definition, this is untrue.

    Second, you are completely wrong about tops not being more accepted. In many western cultures from ancient Greece to contemporary Latin America, being a top ranges from being completely acceptable (ancient Greece) to being “not actually gay” (Latin America).

    Finally, the reason why gay men don’t object to the term “sucks” is because it does not refer to any particular sexuality. In fact, performing oral sex on someone is even stigmatized when it’s a straight guy going down on a woman. Until recently, that was something that was talked about with disgust. I’m 38 and I can remember one of the most vulgar terms you could call someone back in junior high was a “tw@t licker.”

    Look, Rick, everyone can suck. Some of us just excel at it, which was my original point, by the way.

  13. rafi says

    Does anyone else find it weird that the only person involved who didn’t have a lesson to learn among all these “teachable moments” was the teenage student?

  14. says


    I wouldn’t go so far as saying gay people have never been denied the right to vote in this country, as at the beginning of this country, only white, male landowners could vote. That left poor people, black people and women out of the equation — and last time I checked, there were plenty of poor gay people, black gay people and lesbians in this country. No doubt it wasn’t much different before the franchise was extended to women and African Americans, though gay people may have been further/fully in the closet back then, so we unfortunately don’t have much of a historical record of them.

    The basic point, though, is that yes — plenty of gay people were denied the right to vote, even if they weren’t denied because of their sexuality in particular. That last qualification means little, though, when the reason why those people weren’t “out” was because the consequences for being so would have been far more drastic than most of us have ever had to deal with.

  15. RyanInSacto says

    Ryan: I’m not interested in playing the oppression hierarchy game. That was not my point. My point – and I think you agree with me – is that Rick’s statement that women “have always been part of mainstream society” and that there has “never been a negative view” of them is absolutely preposterous. I do not, in any way, deny that gay people have been discriminated against. Such a statement would profoundly contradict the way that I understand the world. I just think that Rick went out on a precariously shaky limb to prove a point about, of all things, the offensiveness of the term “sucks.”

  16. anon says

    “Sucks” does not always refer to the sex act. That’s a coincidence. The origins of how it came to mean “bad” will probably never be known.

    Also, there was no chance the gov was going to get sued over this.

  17. Paul R says

    When I studied this once, I found many sources saying that “sucked” came not from fellatio references, but from eating something really sour or rancid. The original terms were “sucks lemons” or “sucks eggs” (among others). They just got shortened. No sex.

    “Blows” was shortened from “blowing smoke” or “blowing hot air.” Again, no sex.

    Women never shunned or denigrated? Funny.

    And yes, he most definitely would have been sued by someone. He probably already had several threats, because for a GOP assface this is a very generous apology.

  18. sugarrhill says

    Oh for God’s sake, don’t feed the misogynist troll. Is that really to hard to do? He was obviously baiting everyone into responding with his ridiculous and unfounded comments.

Leave A Reply