If Marty Flynn wants to be taken seriously as a legislator, his skin has to be thicker than his head. 

The Democratic state representative for the 113th District is licking self-inflicted wounds after typing tough on Facebook on Saturday. Jabbed by three apparently Republican business owners, the former boxer and MMA fighter rope-a-doped himself into a corner with this post:    

“Keep talking about how bad we Democrats are and WE will STOP supporting YOUR businesses! You want to make it PERSONAL and we WILL!”

The post would have gone viral even if we weren’t in the middle of an infectious disease pandemic. It spread far and wide with the help of Republican operatives happy to capitalize on a Democrat Behaving Badly. 

Flynn’s critics dug up his reply to an earlier comment in which he threatened to kick the commenter “down the street until you shut your fat mouth.” 

Ugh. This is why politicians should stay away from antisocial media. When you’re a public official, there’s no such thing as a personal Facebook page. Flynn prides himself on being “unfiltered,” but politics punishes unscripted utterances, particularly those made in anger. Calls for Flynn’s resignation began within minutes of the post. He deleted it and posted an apology:   

“Earlier tonight I posted on my personal page a reaction to three business owners that basically shared the same meme about how Democrats are “evil” to which I responded negatively, implying that we shouldn’t support (patronize) them. This was juvenile taking anyone’s political criticism, no matter how low, personal.

“Even though I was venting about three people and my result of offending more people is well deserved. I’m SORRY and I should have been more thoughtful…..”

I called Flynn this morning for his unfiltered take on the backlash to his post. He didn’t have much to say beyond the posted apology. He knows he was wrong and regrets what he said. He explained that the “kick you down the street” comment was clipped from another, older post in which a commenter egged him on with a vulgar comment I can’t share here. 

Flynn said he wasn’t threatening the commenter, but responding in anger to an offensive jab he thought was below the belt. Whatever the instigation, Flynn must learn to resist the urge to punch back, especially when punching down. In the political ring, cheap shots are thrown to draw an overreaction. Flynn walked right into this one. 

In his press conference today, Gov. Tom Wolf was asked to comment on Flynn’s gaffe. Wolf pointed out that Flynn apologized, and said his fellow Democrat has “worked real hard” to keep constituents safe during the pandemic.

“I understand Rep. Flynn’s frustration,” Wolf said. Me too, but there is no excuse for the way Flynn expressed it. If Flynn can’t control his temper, he should stay away from antisocial media. If he can’t take sucker punches on the chin with a stubborn grin, he should leave the public ring.  

Now that Marty has taken his lumps, let’s look at all the pearl-clutching on the Republican side of the divide. Snowflakes who got the vapors over Flynn’s “outrageous,” “offensive” and “over the line” comments in a pair of Facebook posts are the same paragons of virtue that excuse the countless transgressions of the Cyberbully-in-Chief. 

President Trump wields his Twitter account like a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. He bullies, demeans and threatens his political enemies multiple times a day, and his fans don’t bat an eye. Flynn could post offensive comments from today until the sun burns out and never catch up to Trump.

If Flynn was so wrong (he was), why isn’t the president?   

While you ponder that question, I’ll point to the most important difference between Flynn’s gaffe and Trump’s continuing abuse of antisocial media:

Flynn apologized. Trump never has, and never will.

Read Staff Writer Robert Tomkavage’s story on Flynn’s post here, and a lot more in today’s Times-Tribune. Digital monthly subscriptions are $4.95, less than you spent daily on drive-thru coffee before the shutdown. Get a subscription here

The Times-Tribune is still here, and so are you. We will get through this together, one day at a time. Hang in there, hunker down and wash your hands. Keep your chin up, and don’t take cheap shots or fall for sucker punches.