I’m no fan of Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. But excluding him from the committee to investigate Jan. 6 was a mistake.

We all saw what we saw Jan. 6, and it was deeply disturbing. The halls of Congress belong to the peoples’ chamber, but that does not make them a public house. Bum-rushing security, defiling the place by smashing stuff up and chasing down members, and attempting to obstruct a lawful, indeed sacred ritual of democracy can’t and won’t be whitewashed.

There were reportedly calls to lynch the vice president.

But as Gen. Mark Milley rightly said when he testified before Jordan’s pal, Matt Gaetz, he wants to understand “white rage.” It was suggested that “white rage” was behind Jan. 6, and since it has, whether or not it actually was to be studied. So, too, do the origins of the incident and the organizers.

There is a lot we need to understand to process the events.

Anyone looking forward to congressional hearings or investigations revealing what really happened or lighting the way to new, useful answers is usually bound to be disappointed. As we’ve seen far too often, these proceedings can degenerate into bad theater. So goes Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s official rationale for barring Jordan and Jim Banks, another Republican, from the special panel.

Unfortunately, that opens the door to one-sided theater.

As a Republican, I believe Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) will better represent me than Jordan would. But it’s important for the whole country to see Jordan’s antics too, because they might very well be relevant to the proceedings. He was one of 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the election results. That establishes at least a parallel with the narrative that drove many of the rioters or, as the mass media puts it, insurrectionists.

It’s always better to hear something from the horse’s mouth. Defining someone in the abstract dilutes the person, and one of the things wrong with our country today is a tendency to talk about “the other” in the abstract — as opposed to talking to the other. Sure, we already know Jordan won’t wear a jacket. He’ll ape about some more. He’ll antagonize some witnesses, as Gaetz did Milley. In that process, though, we can learn something.

“Have you no decency?” Defense counsel Joe Welch asked Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the hearings in 1954, over allegations of communists in the Army. McCarthy’s staff aide was none other than Roy Cohn, an innately dark figure who later defended mob bosses and became a mentor to the publicity-seeking New York real estate baron, Donald Trump.

If this probe comes to that, there should be an opportunity to challenge opposing views openly. I don’t see anyone on the Hill today who could stand up the same way Welch, our late Sen. Margaret Chase Smith or Missouri’s Stuart Symington did. But let’s not short-sheet the current crew; the optimist in me thinks we deserve the chance to see if anything redeeming can come out of this exercise.

Half of America assumes these hearings will just put the final touches on a whitewash job, while the other half believes they’re rigged and will be just another witch-hunt. That’s a huge problem for their credibility at the very outset. One side shouldn’t get to decide who their loyal opposition is, unless of course you’re in a monarchy or authoritarian regime. At least on reality television, you get voted off the island.

Anyway, the die is now cast. If this  show’s purpose is to find out what happened near the start of this year, let’s hope someone asks good questions of witnesses qualified to shed real light on things. If the purpose is to find ways to prevent this from happening again, let’s hope for some real ideas.

But if the purpose is to polarize and vilify, the hearings will do no good, and probably exacerbate one of the underlying problems: There is a growing sense in America that the gulf between the governed and the governors is widening. When Pelosi gets to decide what is “unproductive” — as she projected Jordan’s contributions would be — the whole thing starts to look stage-managed.

The biggest problem with the democratization of speech that technology has delivered is the new campaign by officialdom to police it. There are always reasons to curb dangerous speech, sure, but these can quickly becomes simply pretexts. I felt chilled when White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki blithely admitted they are alerting companies like Facebook to what they consider “disinformation.” Yes, it was chilling the way only someone who’s sees freedoms erode elsewhere can feel.

Now we’re talking about who gets to call and question witnesses, and there are probably other curbs on “unproductive” talk in the works as well. We’ve all heard plenty of stupid speech in recent years, but that doesn’t mean America is so fed up we’re ready to let someone regulate it. Censorship tends to backfire.

Pelosi made a mistake in barring two Republican reps from the panel, but the only way not to now turn them into heroes is by holding a productive and informative inquiry.

I’m less optimistic about that, but hope dies last.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.