By RICK WAGNER

If last week was anything, it was at least educational. Also terrible, and sad. As a consequence, we’ve had some things demonstrated that are worth examining.

First and most obvious: gather enough people in one place and a percentage of them are bound to be idiots and criminals. If organizers don’t have some plan in place to short-circuit these people, then something is almost certain to happen to undermine the message of the demonstration.

We learned that the well-being and workplaces of our elected representatives appears to be more important and precious than those of regular folks and their places of business or homes.

We know this because throughout months of rioting in major cities across the United States — where hundreds of millions of dollars in damage took place, lives lost, family businesses destroyed, and courthouses and police buildings attacked — many of our representatives felt it was often excusable conduct; because they supported or were supported by the political position of those involved.

It was not excusable conduct. Neither was the assault on the Capitol building. The notion that damage and terror inflicted on their workplace has greater import than someone’s pizza parlor being burned to the ground in Minneapolis is disturbing.

This thinking is a growing problem. Our representatives in Washington seem to have drifted into the idea that they are a class apart and above those who placed them in those positions. This does not seem to be the province of only one party. Comments both by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi both contained more than a little wounded nobility that exceeded their concern for the common folk in similar situations.

This should not be the case in the United States. If it has become that, then our experiment in representative government is at an end but we have yet to realize it.

Then there is a lesson that remains unlearned. What needs to be done about the concerns of all those protesters at the Capitol who did nothing wrong?

Although it remains underreported, there would look to be nearly 400,000 to 500,000 people in Washington that day expressing concern over the outcome of the last election cycle who had nothing to do with the 1,500 or so criminal element breaking into the building. There appears to have been nothing done to alleviate their concerns but there have been many to increase them.

There has been, however, a terrifying rush toward criminalizing the president, which now seems to include everyone in his administration, surrogates, voters, and anyone even vaguely related to a group connected to his election or ideas associated with him.

The tech companies that rule our digital world have leapt on board with a vengeance, seeing this as an opportunity to definitively signal their virtue and consolidate their control over the nation’s discourse by denying those listed above from having a voice in our wired universe.

This did not prove as easy as they anticipated. Users denied some platforms began to migrate to others, more open to free discourse. This caused the tech titans to pursue conservatives and Trump voters across the cybernetic universe and try to destroy these other outlets’ ability to operate.

This incredibly unattractive action is an unusual mix of spite and a monopolistic attempt to cure what became apparent to be a bad business decision. As millions left Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, the value of those businesses fell, which was bad enough, but to allow that action to benefit growing competition was not acceptable.

Conservative voices are the first to cry out, but I believe a few more thoughtful liberal ones are beginning to understand that if the odd kings of Silicon Valley can begin to choose winners and losers in politics, what might happen in their own primaries? What if they run against a Silicon Valley favorite who can simply ask their masters to tweak an algorithm and send search results for their opposition down the rabbit hole and their own into the sky?

This all is a terrifically bad idea. Lately progressives like to quote the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who in 1967 said, “In the final analysis, the riot is the language of the unheard. What is it that America has failed to hear?”

If they truly believe that there are millions in this country who feel unheard – listening to them is the best and perhaps only solution.

Rick Wagner is a Grand Junction attorney. Email him at rickwagner@columnist.com. His weekly political talk show airs on KNZZ 1100 AM/92.7 FM on Saturdays at noon.

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