Brownback's office did a great favor to this girl...and most of the kids her age. If they are so ignorant of the public nature of "private" postings, they need a serious wake-up call! Thankfully, the guy that found this girl's post was not a stalker, a sex abuser, or a kidnapper.
Don't parents and schools WARN kids to keep their public face quiet and anonymous anymore??? Someone needs to slap that kid's parents for being stupid, and for raising a kid that is both stupid and rude.
Practically speaking, it's actually highly unlikely that on a school bus with other students and a couple of teachers that any comment she made to a friend would actually be heard (with all the talking on the bus) or even reported. Do you really think one of her little friends would email the Governor's office and say that some kid was talking smack? I just don't see it. And the teachers wouldn't report it; they would just look bad. Nothing is totally safe, but unless the Governor's staffers are present, it's highly unlikely that anything the girl said with her friends would get back to Brownback and, even then, it would only be hearsay. She could always deny it, say it was misunderstood (if in fact someone reported it), and nothing could be done under those circumstances. Besides, could you see how paranoid the Governor would look trying to track down hearsay from a high school girl who made comments on a school bus? There's a story for the local paper. ;)
The internet posting is qualitatively different from an offhand comment in that the posting is not hearsay: the post is labeled with the young woman's name/handle. She cannot really get away with saying she did not post it, unless she makes the lame claim that someone posted on her account, and that's not likely to be believed. So you're analogy of a random comment on the school bus getting back to the Governor is not at all the same thing as an internet post. The internet post provides some solid proof: the comment was, at least, posted from the girl's account. A random comment--heard even on a city bus with a Brownback staffer on it--would still only be hearsay.
And once again, I do not agree with what the girl did. I am trying to make you see why other internet users got so upset. In a nutshell, the Brownback case demonstrated to internet users that there is no anonymity on the net and that random comments they make can be tracked down, even when they have security settings.
As I have demonstrated above, that is NOT what this case was. Overheard verbal remarks criticizing a politician are hearsay. A written internet post criticizing a politician is a good deal more than that. One can deny making verbal remarks, say they were misunderstood, taken out of context, etc. You can't take someone to court over hearsay. You can't even be sure that the person said those remarks, so even demanding an apology is questionable.No, it was simply a case of malicious gossip being overheard and getting back to the target. That happens all of the time, even without social media.
The Governor might have gotten steamed about a remark from a high school student that some staffer passed on to him, but it would be a "he said/she said situation" between the student and the staffer. Look at the "he said/she said" Herman Cain situation: a number of women made claims of sexual harassment against him and some actually had payoffs from the National Restaurant Association for this harassment. But it's all hearsay until and unless the gag order is lifted and the legal files can be perused. Since this hasn't happened, it's all deniable hearsay, which is why the allegations did not really tank his campaign. Now, if there were actual lewd internet posts from Cain to his work subordinates, that would no longer be hearsay, it would be a form of proof. Notice how people's opinions changed about Cain when the proof of his long term affair--the calls, messages, and texts on Ginger White's cell phone--came to light. It's the proof that has tanked him.
Once again--and yes, I'm being a post hog, but I am tired of being misunderstood: I DO NOT SUPPORT WHAT THE GIRL DID. Manners are important. But what Brownback did is a good deal more than react to a report of hearsay, which is what responding to a malicious piece of gossip would be. Brownback actually had a staffer searching for posts about him (most likely for PR purposes, but also for true threats). A post with a name and a date was found. This was an active search. I am not saying Brownback was wrong for this: absolutely not. The internet can make or break reputations; everyone with something to lose should be monitoring what appears about him or her on the net. Where I fault Brownback is that he overreacted to a silly post and made himself look Orwellian to lots of internet users. On the other hand, it's about time these internet users learn that nothing on the internet is private, even with so-called "privacy settings."
You never taught high school, did you. :) Kids talk a lot of smack as soon as they think you are out of earshot. And you should have been on college campuses when Bush was president. You know that Bush administration officials got shouted down on campuses and look at what recently happened to Scott Walker.But, how many of those persons who say rude and untruthful things have just left a meeting with the governor? The content of the message was a factor because she was claiming to have insulted him to his face. Again, think gossip, not social media.
This is a slightly different situation. In this case, I am not the governor of the state, a public official with actual power, dealing with an 18-year old peon talking smack who can't really hurt me. (If the governor were truly concerned about harm from the girl's remarks, he could have his staff monitor the girl for a bit and see if she escalated.)If somebody told you that your best friend had said that she was planning to seduce your boyfriend, wouldn't that concern you more than if somebody that neither you nor he had met or was ever likely to meet had said it?
To return to your scenario, the analogy is not a truly equivalent one because:
1. As mentioned, there is no power differential, no paid internet monitor, no official legal or moral capacity to compel action.
2. The gossip (hearsay) actually identifies an action that might be taken by some malefactor, a threat to my personal romantic situation. This was not the case with the governor: no threat, no threatened action, not even a romantic one.
A much better analogy would be if one of my enemies at school told her friends that she had confronted me that a club meeting where I was president. (That's essentially what happened to Brownback.) So, to make it absolutely analogous to Brownback, let's say:
1. I'm president of the Homecoming Committee and hold a routine meeting about decorations. Someone mentions allowing same-sex couples at the Homecoming dance and the resolution is tabled until we can talk to school officials.
2. One girl at the meeting tweets to her Twitter fundamentalist church group, a "private" twitter feed, that she stood up in the meeting and told me I was "a sinner and going to hell" because I didn't instantly reject the idea of same sex couples at Homecoming. This confrontation did not happen in reality.
3. Although I am not an authority figure, I have a faculty advisor who can push his weight around.
4. These church kids do not go to our high school. Chances are that we will not run into them unless they force the issue for some reason.
This is the right analogy. The issue is political and a perceived confrontation could hurt my reputation among either my own church group or the gay and lesbian club on campus. Now, let's say I'm googling on my own name and it pulls up this tweet What do I do? Well here is the situation:
a. A small group of church kids think this girl shouted me down over a religious/political issue.
b. I will probably not run into these church kids. However these church kids could spread rumors that might get back to me.
c. If people google my name they will find this tweet and think this girl shouted me down. Additionally, they will think I support same-sex couples at Homecoming.
At this point, I have to think about the actual damage. First, I want to square with my school exactly what happened. I go to my faculty advisor and to the principal. Once they know where I stand, they can double-check with witnesses. I let my friends know what's up and get their support. I also see if I have any friends who know any people from that church group and who might be able to put out fires if they happen.
What I WON'T do is go after the girl. (I might continue to watch the Twitter feed to see if it really gets libelous, and then I get an attorney). But if I go after her I make it a much bigger deal than it is, and I make her much bigger than she is. Chances are, she's not really trying to hurt me as much as she is trying to show off false bravado to her friends. Since she goes to my school, I might watch to see if she tries to spread this around on my own home turf. (This would not happen for Brownback; that girl would never get near his day-to-day co-workers and associates.)
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