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Consequences: Insurrectionists could use some soul-searching

Folks who have been keeping an eye on the consequences for those found guilty of crimes during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection now have some idea how those rioters will be treated by the courts. Monday, Judge Randolph Moss sentenced a Florida man to 8 months in prison for breaching the U.S. Senate chamber carrying a Trump campaign flag.

“If I had any idea that the protest … would escalate (the way) it did … I would never have ventured farther than the sidewalk of Pennsylvania Avenue,” Paul Allard Hodgkins told the judge. “This was a foolish decision on my part.”

Foolish is an understatement, and Hodgkins is fortunate the judge did not follow prosecutors’ recommendation that he serve 18 months for his crimes.

They say riots are the language of the unheard. But, despite that phrase being applied to riots all over the country last year, some of the same people who participated in the Capitol insurrection were among those who complained previous rioters should have found a more civil way to express their grievances.

For them, it seems, they believed there should be a double standard. That idea is made all the more distasteful when one considers that these folks HAD been heard. They were so loud it was impossible to ignore. But they were wrong. No evidence has been found to support the excuse they used for storming the Capitol.

Prosecutors said Hodgkins, “like each rioter, contributed to the collective threat to democracy.”

On that point, Moss agreed.

“That was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a protest,” the judge said. “It was … an assault on democracy. … It left a stain that will remain on us … on the country for years to come.”

Hodgkins’ attorney said the shame of what he has done will be attached to Hodgkins for the rest of his life. The attorney also noted that on that day Hodgkins had “made a fateful decision to follow the crowd.”

Now he will pay for it by spending eight months in prison. Given the precedent set, perhaps others will also be spending time behind bars for their crimes. And perhaps listening to the defenses given by those others will make a few who did not participate (or, at least, get arrested for participating) that day think for a moment about what in the world went into THEIR decision to “follow the crowd.”

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