Thoughts better left unsaid

It’s never a good idea to refer to someone as a Nazi, especially when it’s a fellow member of the North Dakota Legislature.

Rep. Jessica Haak, D-Jamestown, last week apologized for referring to Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, as a Nazi on Twitter.

Haak was tweeting during the floor discussion on funding for private schools when Carlson, the House majority leader, told her that tweeting during session was not allowed. Haak then posted a tweet that included Carlson’s no-tweeting instructions, and ended with the hashtag “Nazi.”

Carlson asked Haak for a formal apology, which she did in a prepared statement to the full House before the beginning of work the next morning. Carlson also spoke, and said it was “a lesson to be learned” and that he held no ill-will toward Haak.

A lesson learned, indeed, in the rules of the Legislature but also in the reality of the technology age we live in, where thoughts can be immediately transmitted to the cyberworld through Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. The problem is that too often those thoughts are inappropriate and shouldn’t be shared with anyone. That’s certainly the case with Haak’s comment. Perhaps the thought of Carlson’s reminder that tweeting isn’t allowed during session annoyed Haak, but the thought should have ended there. Once you hit “send,” it’s impossible to get that thought back, and that perhaps is the biggest lesson of all to learn in this incident.