The story of Emma Sullivan is, in its small way, inspiring. She stood her ground, Kansas’s WATB-in-chief backed off, and her school administrators seemed to figure out in time that demanding an apology would violate the First Amendment. Sometimes standing up for yourself is not just the right thing to do but actually works.
Not surprisingly, however, someone with a sinecure at Fred Hiatt’s crayon scribble page sees it differently. Via Greenwald, I bring you Ruth Marcus from the David Broder Memorial Fainting Couch, with a column about the “potty-mouthed”* Sulllivan:
Emma Sullivan, you’re lucky you’re not my daughter. (Dangerous sentence, I know: My daughters might agree.)
If you were my daughter, you’d be writing that letter apologizing to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback for the smartalecky, potty-mouthed tweet you wrote after meeting with him on a school field trip.
Also, that smartphone? The one you posed with, proudly displaying the tweet in which you announced that Brownback “sucked” and added the lovely hashtag #heblowsalot? Turned off until you learn to use it responsibly.
More to the point, as I constantly remind my daughters, parents are not bound by constitutional constraints. The Constitution does not grant teenagers the fundamental right to have a cellphone or use foul language on it. The parental role is to inculcate values of respect for authority — even those you disagree with — and the importance of civil discourse. It’s not to stand up for your little darling no matter how much she mouths off.
It seems worth noting at this point that Sullivan is 18 years old. And, yet, I actually believe that Marcus would suspend her cellphone privileges for not properly respecting the auhtoritah of a man who, if he had his way, would use state coercion to force Sullivan to carry her rapist’s baby to term. The idea that the relationship between citizen and governor is analogous to the relationship between child and parent is even more baffling, leaving aside the fact that Marcus apparently sees no difference between adults and elementary schoolers. And as Glenn says, it’s not surprising that Marcus’s belief that we should bow down to our “betters” extends to more important issues.
*Seriously, “potty-mouthed.” Verbatim quote from the headline, I swear, and I believe the first time this phrase has been used since my grandfather passed away in 1983. Are adults even the intended audience of the WaPo op-ed page anymore?
..this was made for Pierce, and he delivers. I especially commend his analysis of Marcus’s passive-aggressive mealy-mouthed “maybe she has First Amendment rights but” argument.