I resisted writing on this topic for weeks, but the sheer volume of nonsense overwhelmed me.
The commentary I see in the media, social media, and particularly on Medium in the wake of the Rittenhouse trial is (incredibly) even more unhinged than it was during the runup.
The easiest item to debunk is “white supremacy.” Race had nothing to do with this. No evidence was presented at the trial of any sort of racial motive. The comments by Biden about Rittenhouse being a member of some white supremacist group appear to be a complete fabrication. Rittenhouse is white, the people shot were white. This is a non-starter with absolutely no corroborating evidence.
Another easily debunked narrative runs along the line of “If it wasn’t illegal, it should have been.” Fine, write your legislators. This sort of “thinking” has no place in any courtroom.
To be fair, there are some things about the incident I find troubling. I would not have gone into that environment the way Rittenhouse did for a few reasons and would have counseled him against it.
First, had I contemplated showing up in that place and that time armed, I would have talked myself out of it almost certainly. My thought process would have been “Sure as hell there will be some tough-guy asshole there that will come at me and force me to shoot him.” I don’t need to spend months in jail pending a trial, losing my job, and all the misery that would accompany that. It turns out, not surprisingly, that very asshole showed up that night – Joseph Rosenbaum.
Second would be Kyle’s age. I would not have suggested anyone attend armed that was not at least 21. I was a bit surprised the judge threw out the underage possession charge – but given the convoluted state law, it is understandable. Being under 18 can expose your parents to criminal and civil liability as well.
Third, and it is not at all clear to me how this happened exactly, Kyle ended up alone – separated from friends and allies. Not good. If you are going to head into something like this, you really should be part of a group – with a plan and some way to communicate – and no matter what, stick together.
To be clear, however, not a single one of these concerns of mine are in any way relevant to the charges Rittenhouse faced or to the question at trial as to whether or not he was defending himself. You do not lose the right to defend yourself because you are under 18.
I’ll save someone the time here and counter my first concern. The decision to show up that night, armed or otherwise, is an individual one – a personal cost/benefit question. People do have the right to defend themselves and their families and property. It has been repeatedly stated that this is/was the job of the police. True. But the police didn’t do it. Police all over the country were ordered to stand down in the face of these riots. It can be expected then that citizens will arm and defend themselves. Many of the voices so upset about this incident are the same voices wanting to defund the police. There are really only two choices here. If you want trained professionals handling riots and looting, give the police the resources and support they need to do it. If not, expect ordinary citizens to do it. If you think there is a third option, you live in a fantasy world.
“Why he was there” is irrelevant (as the trial showed). “He had no right to be there” is nonsense, he had much right to be there as anyone else.
I’ve also read a good deal of commentary along the line of “the gun changes everything” or that people carrying guns somehow think doing so “confers some authority”. The prosecutor in the case attempted this as well, arguing that one should “not bring a gun to a fistfight.” All of which is also irrelevant to the case.
No one I know that carries a gun thinks it “confers some authority.” It confers added responsibility – and it is damned uncomfortable. People writing this, I am certain, have never carried a gun.
“The gun changes everything” argument is in essence that the mere possession of the firearm is somehow a threat or provocation. I regularly see armed citizens in the convenience store where I’ve stopped of coffee on the way to work every morning for 10 years. They are not a threat or a provocation. They usually carry concealed (but not so well concealed that I can’t tell they are armed). Just the other morning, the guy in front of me in line was clearly carrying a sidearm under his work shirt. I didn’t view him as a threat, neither did the uniformed police officer standing behind me.
As for bringing a gun to a fistfight, I can’t think of a more ridiculous line for the prosecutor to pursue. The dumbshits chasing Rittenhouse clearly knew he was armed. They brought fists to a gunfight (except for the one now missing part of his arm). And for those that might wonder, the normal outcome (if not the point) of a gunfight is that someone gets killed. No one is likely to take the time to take careful aim and try for a shot in the leg (sorry Joe), they are going to aim for center mass if they aim at all – right through the boiler room – which is likely to be fatal.
No one is obliged to let anyone attack them in the street. No one is obliged to let someone beat them with their fists, or with a skateboard, or to hit them in the head with a brick or a bottle full of concrete. No one is obliged to stand idly by and watch criminals burn down their towns or neighborhoods. No one is obliged to let anyone disarm them.
People arming themselves in response to potential riots has happened all over the country. It happened in a small town near where I live in the summer of 2020. There were no riots, no incidents, nothing. People like Rittenhouse were not showing up in response to protests. No one gives a damn if you want to protest – get your signs, sing your chants – don’t care. People like Rittenhouse were showing up in response to riots, arson, and looting.
The fact that Rosenbaum was killed, and how it happened, should surprise no one. If you run around beating people – attacking people – plan on getting killed someday. Sooner or later you will run into the wrong person (hopefully sooner – fewer victims that way). Usually, people like Rosenbaum (Antifa for example) prefer to do their nasty bullshit in liberal cities like Portland (where the police have been held back and the odds of running into an armed citizen are lower). But if these people all took to the streets with the knowledge that attacking someone was likely to get them killed, we might have protests that are actually peaceful. Don’t want to get killed? Don’t attack people.