During the chaos of the U.S. Capitol lockdown triggered by yesterday's shooting, Republican Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) decided to whip out his phone as he hunkered down in the House Cloakroom. As the situation unfolded, he sent tweets lampooning President Obama and other Democrats for their "violent rhetoric."
Rep. Griffin has (obviously) since walked back on those comments a bit, offering one of those non-apologies that politicians are famous for.
The victims and their families are in my thoughts and prayers. The shooting today is a terrible and inexcusable tragedy and an act of terrorism. No one but the shooter is to blame.
We are still processing information about this shooting, but as I have been saying for days, we all need to choose our words wisely because violent rhetoric only coarsens our culture, creates an atmosphere of incivility and is not helpful. I tweeted out of emotion, but agree that the timing was not helpful.
But, for as pretend sorry as Griffin may be, his tweets are indicative of a larger problem at hand. It seems that there is no shortage of mildly important and/or notable personalities who are incapable of discerning what is and is not OK to tweet during moments of crisis or mourning.
When important/harrowing things are happening and the Internet is still trying sort out the details, shutting down the partisan tweets isn't a big ask. In fact, it's a reasonable and ostensibly clear expectation. Every breaking news story shouldn't be used to promote a partisan cause the same way that a day of rememberance shouldn't be used to peddle cell phones.
It's not that difficult to recognize which situations call for you to muzzle your thumbs, especially when you're a prominent figure. Here's to hoping that if/when the furlough ever ends, Rep. Griffin and the rest of Congress can bring on some interns who can explain how to use a BlackBerry without alienating everyone with a WiFi connection and half a brain.