February 22, 2013
A Connecticut lawmaker has characterized members of the media attempting to cover the Sandy Hook shooting as “jackals” bent on exploiting children who reportedly died at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.
Republican Reps. DebraLee Hovey, Dan Carter, and Mitch Bolinsky testified earlier this week in Hatford, Connecticut, in favor of enacting legislation that would prevent “overzealous members of the media” from gaining access to the death certificates of children under 18 who law enforcement and government say died during the massacre.
The lawmakers and Newtown Town Clerk Debbie Aurelia told the Legislature’s Public Health Committee on Wednesday that the law to seal records is intended to protect the privacy of the Sandy Hook families. They argued that allowing media access would cause “undue hardship.”
Rep. Hovey characterized journalists as “unscrupulous individuals” determined to exploit and profit from the misery of the families. “Isn’t it enough to know that 20 children and six adults died?” she asked. Preventing the media from learning all the facts in the case is “the right thing to do,” the representative from Monroe, Connecticut, added.
Hovey went on to portray journalists as “voyeurs who really are interested in other people’s pain, and the more gruesome, the happier they are.”
Reps. Carter and Bolinsky said limiting access to the certificates would not only prevent journalists from abusing the information contained in the documents, but would also lessen the threat of identity theft, the NewsTimes in Danbury, Connecticut, reported.
Bolinksy said he “felt the outrage, the pain of observing the jackals descend upon my town clerk’s office at a time of great, great community loss.”
Karen Florin, a reporter for TheDay in New London, criticized the lawmakers and city clerk for blocking access to the records. “Being in the business, I naturally want to know every detail of that case as it unfolds. I notice, too, that everyone I speak with, right down to my senior citizen mother, is following every development,” Florin wrote on Friday.
“How are we, as a civil society, going to digest this and act thoughtfully in attempt to prevent it from ever happening again if we are not allowed the details? As uncomfortable as a reporter’s job can be, we can’t back down.”