Respecting both sides - minus the insults

There is no topic as sensitive or raw for Connecticut residents as the Sandy Hook School shooting.

Most of us are separated by just a few degrees from those who were killed, and even if we weren’t close to the victims or don’t know the families, there is no denying the pain and connection we feel for our fellow state residents.

Just recently, the General Assembly decided to prevent the release of homicide victims photos, 911 recordings and videos connected to the massacre.

First Selectman Timothy Herbst, who has worked closely with Newtown officials and in honoring Trumbull resident Mary Sherlach, who was one of the victims, supported the decision to keep the information private. We respect his decision and his reasoning behind it.

However, we don’t respect his recent condemnation of Democratic state Sen. Anthony Musto, who supported the release of the information on the grounds that failing to do so would set a dangerous precedent. (See full story here).

Herbst said in a press release that he believed Musto showed a lack of respect for the Newtown families and that his stance was “shameful” and “abhorrent.” Herbst even said “the psychology department at Yale University would have a field day in studying and assessing how Senator Musto applies logic.”


Sen. Musto defended himself against the press release, saying he has nothing but sympathy and support for the families of Newtown, but that “for those of us in government to conceal information from our citizens because we think the information is disturbing sets a dangerous precedent. I opposed this legislation because I believe this is contrary to the way government should act toward citizens.”

We also respect Musto’s position and agree that the implications of this could be farther reaching than the Newtown tragedy.

But we can see why the other side feels so strongly. None of us want to inflict any more pain on people who have already been through hell.

If the first selectman wanted to publicly disagree with Musto’s position, he should have done so in a way that was less vitriolic, simply stating his reasons for supporting the Newtown families’ wishes, which are compelling enough. But he appeared to go on the attack.

An admirable trait of Trumbull’s first selectman is that he is open and expresses his opinions freely — which is welcome in a time when public officials are often overly cautious and scripted with their comments. But the press release, sent after the General Assembly made the decision to stop the release of the photos, seemed to be politicizing a difficult and tragic topic.

We think it was unfair to paint someone on the other side of the political aisle as illogical or heartless, when they were really just approaching a multi-faceted and difficult issue from another angle. We need people who do that.

We hope — for the sake of good public discourse — we continue to hear from the left, right and middle on important topics and that all can do so in a respectful way.