Last week, Emma Sullivan, an 18-year-old high school student in Kansas was taking part in a school function at the state capitol in Topeka, when she sent out a tweet regarding Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.
Sullivan's tweet proved to be an eye opener, because she said some vulgar things in it about Gov. Brownback. After reading the tweet, Brownback's office contacted Sullivan's school, and the school's principal, Karl Krawitz, demanded that Sullivan write a letter of apology to Gov. Brownback.
This week, Sullivan said she would not apologize to Gov. Brownback, and her school said Sullivan would not be disciplined after all, because of her "constitutionally-protected freedom of speech."
This decision is one in which principal Krawitz is wrong. Krawitz should have insisted that Sullivan apologize to Gov. Brownback, or be suspended (for at least three days).
The fact is that the right of freedom of speech carries with it responsibility. In this situation, Sullivan was indeed irresponsible for her vicious, defamatory, and obscene tweet regarding Gov. Brownback.
Moreover, she had no basis or justification for making such obscene comments. Sullivan says she was kidding; nonetheless, that does not justify such a defamatory tweet.
Freedom of speech must not be viewed as having no limit. The United States has libel laws that have resulted in lawsuits in which individuals and news publications have been ordered to pay millions of dollars to people whose character they have wrongfully defamed.
Sullivan -- who is 18 years old -- is not too young to be cognizant of these libelous laws, and to abide by them. Otherwise, she may not be so lucky, if she defames a person in the future.