How We Know When It’s Serious

The list of federal law enforcement searches on Wednesday, most of which came to light during yesterday’s blockbuster Jan 6th testimony, should remind us of a critical point. The exercise of the law is not simply a matter of finding crimes and prosecuting criminals. It also has a profound signaling effect. It is how society speaks to itself about what is and is not acceptable behavior. Even now I find even myself a bit surprised seeing this drama escalate to morning FBI raids, seizure of electronic devices and more. But of course that’s what happens when people commit serious crimes. In key ways that is how we are conditioned to know what is serious and what is not, what we collectively as a society view as a grave offense. When that doesn’t happen, especially for those not following the details, we assume – and not unreasonably – that it is just politics.

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