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EDITORIAL

Dissing Giffords: What Was State Rep. Hovey Thinking?

Facebook Post: Legislator's inexplicable attack embarrasses the state

9:24 PM EST, January 7, 2013

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In content and syntax, state Rep. DebraLee Hovey embarrassed herself, the General Assembly and the state.

Ms. Hovey, a Republican who represents Newtown and Monroe, blasted the visit to Newtown on Friday by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, a Democrat, who met privately with local officials and families of victims of the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"Gabby Gifford stay out of my towns!!" Ms. Hovey posted on Facebook over the weekend (misspelling the former Arizona congresswoman's last name). In the comments thread, Rep. Hovey seemed to complain that she wasn't invited (she was at a meeting in Florida at the time) and claimed the visit was political: "There was pure political motives [sic]."

Good heavens, is she the sheriff? Who could have a problem with Gabby Giffords? Ms. Giffords, who barely survived a gunshot wound to the head in a shooting rampage in Arizona in 2011 that took six lives, may be uniquely qualified to offer comfort and strength to the Newtown families.

If the subject of stricter gun laws came up at the meeting, does Rep. Hovey have a problem with that?

As for the visit being a political stunt, the press was not allowed in, and there was no statement afterward. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, both Democrats, accompanied Ms. Giffords to the closed meetings, appropriately, and so did Newtown First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra, a Republican.

Rep. Hovey took down the post on Sunday and issued a tepid apology on Monday, calling her remarks "insensitive" and apologizing "if I offended anyone." Who might be offended? Well, there's everyone who admires Ms. Giffords' heroic struggle, everyone who saw the visit as potentially helpful and everyone who appreciates the Queen's English.

Perhaps the lesson, for politicians and the rest of us, is to think, reflect for a moment, before using social media. It is the electronic Pandora's Box.