Monday, November 28, 2011

And a Little Child Shall Lead Them

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Okay, this piece is not about a little child.  The focus is on a young lady, aged eighteen, who is a senior in high school.  But when Emma Sullivan is compared to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, the crusty, snarly old politician whom she humiliated and slew in less than 140 typed characters, Emma is indeed a child - but also a force of nature to be reckoned with.

The story has made all of the literate news outlets over the past few days.  Ms. Sullivan, a resident of Fairway, Kansas, and s student at Shawnee Mission, was taking part in a Youth in Government program in Topeka last week when she tweeted to a friend across the room that Governor Brownback, who was speaking to the group at the time, "sucked."  The next day the governor's gestapo came across that tweet as they were combing through the social media sites to find out what people really think of God's man in Topeka.  The staff promptly notified Youth in Government saying that the comment was not respectful, and that organization passed the pissy complaint on to Emma's principal.

The principal, one Karl R. Krawitz, called Emma into the office and lectured her for an hour, instructing her that she needed to write a letter of apology to the governor, and even providing her with talking points for the letter.  The letter was due on the principal's desk today (Monday).

But then Emma's older sister got into the act and decided that maybe the press needed to be informed of this outrage.  Now the worm has turned on Governor Brownback (who is in the process of learning about the power of social media), and Emma finds herself in the catbird seat.

When Emma tweeted that jab at Brownback she had a mere 65 followers on Twitter, mostly her high school friends.  Now, with the unwitting assist from the governor's office, that number is skyrocketing.  This morning I checked out her Twitter page and she had over 3,200 followers.  A few minutes ago that number had climbed to 5,777.  Governor Brownback and his squad of thick-headed sycophants have succeeded in enabling an 18-year-old high school student to become a significant force in Kansas politics.

What is Emma Sullivan's political agenda - now that she has such a mighty forum?  She would like to dialogue with Brownback and others about his decision to veto the Kansas Arts Commission's entire budget - a move that made Kansas the only state in the nation to completely eliminate funding for the arts.  (Sam, that move alone proves that you really do suck!)

Emma tweeted today that she has decided not to write the letter of apology.  Now the ball is in the court of Principal Krawitz.  As a former high school principal, I can predict the following:  No matter what decision Krawitz makes with regard Emma, he will lose his job.  Kansas will rehire principals during February and March, and Mr. Krawitz will be seen as the man who let this situation get out of control.  The governor has been offended, and state government in large measure funds the schools.  The hand that feeds the high school has been bitten.

What the principal and governor fail to appreciate (well, they may appreciate it now) is that social media has changed the entire political dynamic in this country and the world.   It is because of Twitter and Facebook that the Occupy Movement was able to fortify itself and grow.  Those scroungy protesters didn't have to rely on the media who initially ignored them - they just tweeted their way into significance.  It was also social media that brought down the governments of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.  The people in those countries took charge of their own futures and created their own way of getting the word out.

And Emma Sullivan who was tweeting to just sixty-five of her friends a few days ago, now has an international audience of nearly six thousand - and that number is growing by the minute.

You can follow Emma Sullivan on Twitter  @EmmaKate988

It's a new world, Sam.  Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride!

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