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Kansas teen won't apologize for her tweet about Gov. Sam Brownback

A Kansas teen, Emma Sullivan, is now the center of a free speech debate after tweeting a criticism of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. 

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. earlier this month.

AP Photo/John Hanna

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An American teenager who wrote a disparaging tweet about Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said Sunday that she is rejecting her high school principal's demand for a written apology.

Emma Sullivan, 18, said she isn't sorry and doesn't think such a letter would be sincere.

The Shawnee Mission East senior was taking part in a Youth in Government program last week when she sent out a tweet from the back of a crowd of students listening to Brownback's greeting. From her cellphone, she thumbed: "Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot."

She actually made no such comment and said she was "just joking with friends." But Brownback's office, which monitors social media for postings containing the governor's name, saw Sullivan's post and contacted the Youth in Government program.

Sullivan received a scolding at school and was ordered to send Brownback an apology letter. She said Prinicipal Karl R. Krawitz even suggested talking points for the letter she was supposed to turn in Monday.

The situation exploded after Sullivan's older sister contacted the media. Since then, Sullivan's following on Twitter has grown to about 3,000 people, up from about 65 before the tweet. She said she thinks the tweet has helped "open up dialogue" about free speech in social media..

"I would do it again," she said.

Sullivan has received emails from attorneys but is waiting to see what happens when she refuses to hand in a letter. Krawitz, her principal, told The Kansas City Star previously that the situation is a "private issue, not a public matter" but didn't return a phone message from The Associated Press at his home Sunday.

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