The absolute savaging that a group of Catholic high school teenagers were subjected to over the weekend was a disturbing turn in a culture war that shows no signs of slowing down. From a digital lynching over a one-minute video to real word consequences of death threats made to teenagers and their families, no one is cloaked in glory. And our society further slides into decay.

The miscarriage of justice, and feeding frenzy that ensnared even these students’ local diocese and school, was an abject lesson of why our founders counseled against the whims of democracy. And, to top it off, the outrage mob named the wrong person in the video initially, casting blame on someone not even at the march, causing an avalanche of hatred and harassment for his entire family during his brother’s wedding.

The group of boys, students at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, were in Washington, D.C. for the March for Life, which the school attends each year. The students were in the process of meeting up at the Lincoln Memorial to catch their bus home when this transpired. Unfortunately, what progressed from there was every bit “D.C.” during a large protest.

From what can be discerned from the hours of video that have been pieced together after the initial rush to judgment, the students did not approach the Native American marchers, nor did they espouse hateful rhetoric. There were no chants of “build the wall.”

The students were called horrible names by a hate group that was protesting outside the memorial, and were then approached by these Indigenous March protesters after the kids started chanting school cheers to drown out the positively vile things being said by this first group.

Adults all, with cameras out, hoping to cause a situation by targeting teenagers.

And the moral justification for this mob attack? The reason these kids have had their lives upended, school canceled due to threats, their college admissions threatened and angry calls for their parents to lose jobs, for their lives to be completely destroyed? They had the absolute temerity to wear a MAGA baseball cap, on a trip to the nation’s capital.

Of course, it is a magical hat. It has superpowers, apparently. It has the ability to cause otherwise rational humans to lose their minds, triggering a response so outside the norms of decency that grown adults attack children. And then attempt to justify their actions, because apparently the hat is racist.

Excuse me? I am absolutely flabbergasted that so-called adults think this is a valid point from which to argue. It is a baseball cap.

The cynic in me wonders if the indigenous group was hoping for a viral moment for their gain. If that is the case, I hope it backfires on them spectacularly.

But the disservice done to these teens by the media outdoes even what these protesters did. The rush to judgment, incitement of threats of violence, and the real-life actions taken by a vitriolic mob can be laid at the feet of those who know better. A media that used to promise they would fact-check claims of their own mother could not be bothered to verify the sources and evaluate the context of a video clip that originated from left wing activists for reasons that are still beyond me.

Not left wing media, or right wing media, all media.

We continue the slide towards ideologies that aim to control your thoughts and actions. Ideologies that punish “wrong think,” that squash discussion, that celebrate and promote the destruction of the very basic freedoms that make our country special.

This is more than an attack on kids with red hats. It’s an attack on political speech.

And we all will suffer for it.

Staff columnist Toni Butero can be reached at tbutero@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 862-2222.