Kyle Rittenhouse and the Coming Liberal Split
Part Two: COURT (first half free to read)
The liberal value of tolerance corresponds with other liberal values: Tolerance allows space for free speech. Together, tolerance and free speech create a safe space for scary ideas, uncomfortable facts, unpleasant news, and offensive speech. They allow new ideas, new theories, and controversial views to be aired and shared without punishment, so people can discuss and debate things as liberals do, so the marketplace of ideas can work, so we can figure out the best ways.
Our society’s presumption of innocence works in harmony with the liberal virtues of tolerance and individualism. We honor an accused person’s value as an indiviual by presuming that she is innocent until proven guilty, no matter who she is. We keep our minds open, tolerant, and curious enough to see evidence and hear testimony for and against that accused person, so we can make the most fair judgment we can make.
This values the individual over the culture of a tribe, and over the emotions of a mob.
We protect the minority against oppressive majority rule, in this country. The way we do that is with rules that assume each individual is important and sovereign, because that’s the surest way to protect people who are outnumbered in some way.
That’s part of why we rule by law rather than by some king with a powerful personality or by some religion or by whatever is popular today. Individualism protects a person from the oppression of her destiny being ruled by how other people feel about her, or by what the local public is feeling that year because of some war or some pandemic, or by what some clerics decide would be best for the community.
(e.g. Her physical movement is distracting to the boys around here, and bad for their focus on their schoolwork, so she should be punished anyway, regardless of whether she asked for this incident to happen. We will be kind and just banish her.)
Communities in America are spontaneous, not curated. We have always been the nation of associations. It’s one of the many things the French writers who came over here to study the early United States admired about us.
American associations are formed with strong roots, because freedom of association allows each individual to choose his associations freely, so each association has a membership composed of individuals who want to be part of it, and are not punished for being part of this association or not being part of that association.
So communities, real communites—not the vague communities you hear Social Justice mention—have a natural strength: members each have their own personal motivation to be a member. If and when they do not have that personal motivation, or that motivation is not strong enough for them anymore, or they’re too busy, or they are more interested in other associations now, or for whatever reason, they can leave.
(I think this is part of why it’s harder to get Americans to commit treason. It’s also probably why members of other nations are more likely to commit treason for us.)
(Individualism works. People like it.)
Once a person grasp a couple of these liberal values, like invidualism and freedom of speech, or rule of law and freedom of association, the other values of our system can be intuited. That means people can figure out all of our society’s values just from knowing some of them, which is pretty cool, and something you will not find in most the world.
That means liberal values support each other. It also means those values are steady, because the American experiment, as it is often called, is still here. If it’s still an “experiment,” it’s one that has proven self-governance not only possible but highly successful for a quarter millenium. Maybe it’s because we have good values, ones that allow us to adapt to new times, ones that let us correct and improve ourselves.
Can you imagine living in a totalitarian society, where the rules keep changing and everyone lies because lying and pretending are necessary to survive? Can you imagine being forced to kill your babies if you have more than one, and then not even a generation later being urged by your government to have three?
Can you imagine getting let off for murder in a region of the country where it’s okay to murder members of a certain religion? Or getting different sentences for the same crime, depending on which Islamic jurist is deciding your fate, and depending on what he (always he) thinks of you, and depending on the politics of the day?
Do I convict someone, in a court or in my mind, because she smells like curry? No, that would not be tolerant, nor would it presume her innocence, nor would it respect her individuality. I should judge her actions and intentions, regardless of background or diet. To convict her for anything else, even in my own mind, would be illiberal.
If we cannot tolerate certain individuals—or speech from certain kinds of individuals—we might not give that individual a chance to defend himself. We might not even listen to his story. Maybe we expect him to say something that would hurt our feelings, or something that would disrupt our comfort or our ideology, so we treat his speech as tho it is a crime. We say things like, “This is unacceptable.” Or we just know, we know, that we don’t have to listen to his side of the story.
Then we rule by our feelings, because we cannot tolerate discomfort or a challenge to the way we see the world. We don’t want challenge, so we say we don’t need it. We don’t need to hear the story, the view, the evidence, the facts, the argument.
(You know, that’s something one of my oldest friends said to me recently, before we stopped speaking, “I don’t need to hear Turaj’s theory.” That might be why I’m staying on this point so long.)
Therefore, the belief that speech can be violence is an illiberal belief. Also, it is an excuse not to listen, an excuse for succumbing to your fear, or your petty emotions, or your tribal prejudice. You cannot believe speech is as harmful to us as censoring speech is and call yourself a liberal. And you know this.
I do not believe the image of an armed person who happens to be male, or happens to be white, is violence. I do not believe pointing out the apparent motivations of the people who attacked that person is partisan speech, or hate speech, or violence.
We should not make rules based on protecting us from images or speech that make some people uncomfortable, except in spaces where everyone participating in that space has agreed, voluntarily, to those rules. We should never make laws based on that principle. A free society does not need to keep people safe from things that do not really threaten their safety.
History shows that the moment you create illiberal laws to keep people safe from things that are not violence—things that do not harm them physically or materially or financially—you make room for authoritarianism in the name of kindness, or God.
PAUSE: I should clarify why I list material and financial harm along with physical, especially because so many people are educated today to believe property rights or financial concerns are immoral or just greedy (because they’ve never had any). Harming someone material, such as taking away their property or evicting them from their shelter or restricting their access to certain goods, is a form of physical harm. So is financial harm, because money is required to take care of basic physical needs, and because, for most of us, taking our money is taking chunks of our lifetimes.
authoritarianism: the enforcement or advocacy of strict obedience to authority, by a state or by state-approved mob rule, at the expense of individual rights and freedoms.
Alongside freedom of speech, which does not exist in authoritarian or totalitarian states, the liberal value of tolerance allows a wider range of enriching and liberating developments, like cultural exchange, marriage rights for all adults, greater spiritual wisdom for those to whom that is important, greater perspectives, and better art.
By the time the trial started, Kyle Rittenhouse was already guilty of murder in the minds of most Americans who call themselves liberals, and many acted like he was guilty of racism too. GoFundMe, which kept lying to me last year, telling me the $500 rent supplementation they promised would appear in my bank account “in the coming weeks” (that’s the phrase their agents used the second and third times I asked them where the money was), had shut down Rittenhouse’s funding campaign for his legal fees, without explanation.
Money poured in through other fundraising, coming from people who thought Rittenhouse had been attacked, or that he was being treated unfairly. Rittenhouse had got rid of his original defense team and found good representation, and his case was strong.
If you were watching most news programs, or reading most major newspapers however, it seemed like the whole country had already decided he was the cause of whatever happened in Kenosha, and “the problem.” (I couldn’t tell you exactly what “the problem” was, but some said he was an example of “white supremacy.”)
I have seen injustice several times in a court of law, usually because someone in court lied, and some tired judge or overworked public defendant didn’t do anything about it. Sometimes the injustice was a plea deal had that, in my view, prevented real justice.
I feared injustice would happen again in the Rittenhouse case—feared, because that would mean a kid who had defended himself on the street and had video proof of it could have his life ruined anyway. I was watching him be destroyed by mob opinion for doing nothing at all except escaping being destroyed by a literal mob.
Even if Rittenhouse won, I realized, he would not be able to show his face in public without risking harassment or assault, and already his name would be the name of a murderer, to millions, forever.
As you probably already guess, I realized I could be Rittenhouse. I bet you think I felt that because we’re close to the same color, and not because I can see myself in any innocent person hurt by lies. I’ve experienced it before and I know what it looks like. It looks like a bunch of people who can’t or won’t recognize a person of decent character, talking. I guess it’s not something racial minorities understand, because I didn’t hear any speak in his defense, or even call for patience as the facts came out.
It couldn’t be that there is tremendous social pressure to vilify whites, and a mob waiting to punish any nonwhite person who says anything in defense of a white.
Not in a white supremacist society like ours.
Joesph Rosenbaum, the first person Rittenhouse shot, was a child rapist who had just been released from a mental facility. He had spent the early part of that night, August 25th, 2020, threatening people with violence and yelling the n-word. Did you know that, or did you just hear about how much of a victim he was?
Gaige Grosskreutz, the third person shot, who survived but was severely injured in his right elbow, was at the protest with several of his fellow affiliates of an Antifa-style group, The People’s Revolution, who believe in disruption of the American system by all means available. He was armed with a handgun.
I don’t believe either was there because Kenoshan police had shot Jacob Blake two days earlier. I don’t believe either was there to defend black lives.
Anthony Huber, the second person shot and the other one killed, is said to have regularly threatened his own family with murder, and allegedly assault them more than once, but I don’t believe any of that because I don’t see it proven by any evidence I can view, and I know sometimes people bear false witness about other people. Maybe if he had a list of such charges proven in more than one court I would believe it, but all I’m comfortable saying is it is possible Huber had a violent streak.
Huber was also armed with a pistol, but I am not convinced of reports that he was touching it when he struck Rittenhouse with a skateboard, which makes no sense to me, nor any evidence that Rittenhouse was even aware of Huber’s gun in the brief moment Rittenhouse had to respond to Huber’s approach. I suspect some unnecessary and unhelpful right-wing rumormilling there.
What I can say in defense of Huber’s intentions that night is that he might have been innocent when he assaulted Rittenhouse: he might been trying to do a good deed by taking down an active shooter. It’s hard to believe tho, because Rittenhouse was obviously not shooting anyone at the time. Instead, Rittenhouse was running, and toward the police.
It’s very hard to believe that’s Gaige Grosskreutz was trying to do stop a threat when he approached Rittenhouse, because videos suggest that he knew Rittenhouse was trying to get the police. But it is possible Anthony Huber was a brave but troubled soul who heard the crowd saying Rittenhouse was a shooter and then risked his own life to knock out someone he thought was a murderer fleeing the scene. He struck Rittenhouse over the head with a skateboard, just before Rittenhouse shot him in the chest, killing him.
The usual legal justification for using a deadly weapon in self-defense is reasonable fear of being killed or suffering “great bodily harm.” In the courtroom, the prosecution tried to say being struck by a skateboard wasn’t a reason to fear death or great bodily harm. I think if a titanium truck of a skateboard struck the prosecutors’ heads, they’d think differently.
When I was a skater, our skateboards were our self-defense. We knew exactly how to use them as weapons. If I were surrounded by skaters and even one attacked me with his board, I would reasonably fear death or great bodily harm.
Rittenhouse was surrounded by people, some of whom were running at him to assault him. That was his a good reason to fear death or great bodily harm, whether anyone attacking him had any weapon at all. It is necessary in most self-defense cases to show that you legitimately feared the level of physical danger to justify the level of force you used in defense. Getting mobbed, even if that mob is unarmed, would make me for fear my life, my ability to walk, my ability to think clearly ever again.
I think I’m pressing this point only because this was the most justifiable use of a weapon I have ever seen or heard of. I’m not a lawyer, but I do have the ability to watch a few short clips of video. All of the moments of Rittenhouse’s self-defense were on video, with several seconds before for context. It’s all there, and all looks like if Rittenhouse didn’t shoot, he’d be hurt, and then maybe be hurt some more. How did this case become so controversial?
Earlier in the case, Assistant DA Thomas Binger claimed that Rittenhouse had chased the first person he shot, Joseph Rosenbaum.
I cannot imagine any way Binger could have believed that is what happened. He had access to all the videos, and somehow the video of the encounter between Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum got reversed in his mind. It is as tho he knew it was false but chose to say that Rittenhouse was the one chasing anyway, to create ammunition for the culture war going on outside the courtroom (in the court of public opinion).
It was around that time that Ana Kasparian, a commentator on the progressive news commentary show, The Young Turks, had been convinced that Rittenhouse had chased Rosenbaum. She later apologized to her audience for reporting that… lie. This display of integrity, her self-correction, violated the mainstream mob’s now complete disregard for the liberal presumption of fallibility.
Liberals believe humans can and do make mistakes. We are therefore open to considering information that contradicts our current views and understandings. Liberals are open to being corrected, and quick to self-correct. Without this humility, we cannot claim to value the truth above other values such as Being Right, Not Embarrassing Ourselves, Group Loyalty, and Fanatical Adherence to Cultish Beliefs.
For this reason, arrogant, cowardly, incurious, and immature personalities are unlikely to be able to be good liberals.
Kasparian must have been struck by the boldness of that widespread lie, so opposite to reality and so meaningfully misframing as it was, to say that Rittenhouse was chasing his assailant instead of the other way around. I suspect Kasparian noted more than just that one lie, told by supposed journalists about Rittenhouse’s story. Why?
Her apology was a rare liberal moment on an otherwise progressive show. It also stood out, sharply, from the conformity of progressive (and “liberal media”) commentary on the Rittenhouse case. I remember no other commentators on the political Left correcting their misreporting.
Progressives are not liberals, but share liberals’ psychological difficulty recognizing when moral boundaries have been crossed, being generally more openminded and tolerant in their moral character.
Progressives are especially infected by the mental cancer that has eaten the Left—progs have almost universally adopted the currently popular social and political causes advanced by Far Left academics and the suddenly socially activist corporate world. Progs are also more likely to openly advocate for such causes, and vociferously parrot very recently popular social views.
Liberals are likely to give these causes some lip service, but more likely to be silent— condoning with that silence the new authoritarianism and mobbing behavior that has taken over the Left, making them complicit in the illiberal views and behaviors we have seen sweep the country—complicity that has allowed liberals to be characterized as insane, hypocritical, and tyrannical.
It is as tho someone has taken advantage of our psychological leanings.
Kasparian’s display of genuinely liberal values indicates she values her own individual thought and morality above whichever of the many possible motivations currently impel to signal agreement with the current mob thinking on events like Rittenhouse’s shooting—events involving terrible white supremacist values like self-defense and free movement. Don’t be surprised if she has a moral breakdown and leaves The Young Turks.
(You may be a liberal, Ana. Split.)
Let’s run down the rest of the list of strange claims made in the case, and then dismissed or disproven during the trial, because your news source did not make you aware of all of them:
The prosecution never charged Rittenhouse with transporting an illegal weapon across a state line, because the rifle Rittenhouse had that night was already there in Wisconsin when he got there. (So why did you keep hearing that he crossed a state line with an illegal weapon?) Instead, they alleged that the weapon he had was illegal for him to carry in Wisconsin.
The judge threw that charge out—unlawful possession as a minor—because it didn’t apply to the rifle Rittenhouse was carrying, because the only clear language in that law that would apply to a 17-year-old has a specific exception for 17-year-olds: that they can carry a rifle or a shotgun. It suggests that whoever bought that gun for Rittenhouse knew the law, and knew that getting it for Rittenhouse was legal. How could the prosecution not have known the same thing: that the gun, which they had access to as physical evidence, was of legal length for Rittenhouse to carry?
Most of American broadcast media portrayed Rittenhouse’s gun as illegal, and when the judge threw out that possession charge, anchors and legal experts in the same media said the judge was biased for doing so. There was no way that charge would applied to Rittenhouse even if the judge let it be entered.
So now you believe the judge was biased and that Rittenhouse should at least have been convicted of a possession charge—as some commentators complained. That’s how justice works in some people’s minds: Rittenhouse should at least be guilty of something. According to criminal defense attorney Danny Cevallos, the only mistake the judge made was not throwing out that charge at the very start of the trial. Was the prosecution as ignorant of the language of that law as the judge was till that point?
Why would the prosecution make a charge based on a law they hadn’t read?
Watching footage of the trial as it went, I got the impression that the judge was becoming gradually more convinced that the prosecution was up to shenanigans. By halfway through the trial, it sure did seem to me like he was on Rittenhouse’s side, but not because of his personal politics or any secret or unconscious racism. It seemed to me it was because he had become increasingly suspicious of the prosecution, who was regularly breaking rules and stating falsehoods.
“… I don’t what you’re up to…”
That was the judge, after admonishing the prosecutors for one of their several breaches of court procedure. He made that comment after the Assistant DA spoke an opinion out loud about Rittenhouse’s decision to testify altho he had not planned to testify when the trial started. That’s considered biasing the jury against Rittenhouse, because our 5th Amendment says we can testify or not testify regarding ourselves—as we see fit, when we see fit. So the prosecution violated one of Rittenhouse’s Constitutional protections in a courtroom.
Was the Assistant DA’s comment about Rittenhouse’s decision to testify meant for the camera recording the trial—to be heard in the court of public opinion? Maybe, because maybe it was the only court the prosecution knew they could make a case in. How fortunate for them then that most television media was picking and choosing excerpts of the trial, and framing those excerpts in the worst possible light regarding Rittenhouse’s character or the judge’s attitude.
When people who have neither character nor a case know they cannot win an argument, they attack the other side’s character instead. I bet you if you look for that tactic now, you’ll see it being used by people who believe in Social Justice values, all the time. It doesn’t matter what is being discussed, the SJ believer will tell the challenger she can’t possibly know what’s up, cannot see the truth because she isn’t woke enough, is a bad person, is a racist, is a sexist, is a homophobe or transphobe, is only upset because she’s being defense, is guilty of being on of the lost ones or sellouts, is too ignorant even to talk to—anything except making an actual argument.
Here is an example of Assistant DA Binger’s argument:
“You lose the right to self-defense when you’re the one who brought a gun.”
What a strange thing for a criminal attorney to say. This wasn’t even one of Binger’s disappearing talking points—one of the statements he just stop trying to make as his case fell apart throughout the trial. It remained, all the way to his closing argument.
It isn’t true of course. You can’t just be the guilty person in a physical conflict because you were armed. The guilty party is the assailant, the instigator, the violent criminal. Even if bringing a gun to an event did somehow magically cost you your right to defend yourself—that’s the logic, America—the footage played in court showed that multiple racial justice protestors were carrying guns that night. So Binger doesn’t believe they have the right to self-defense either.
It is an especially strange thing for the prosecution in this case to say because, again, they must have already reviewed that footage. It is even more especially super extra strange for them to say because they knew that one of their witnesses, Gaige Grosskreutz, was recorded trying to get closer to Rittenhouse with his own gun.
So, what was the point of saying it?
Grosskreutz, meanwhile, was claiming to have been scared of Rittenhouse. Maybe he didn’t remember trying to get as close to Rittenhouse as he could before suddenly drawing his handgun. Or maybe he’s tactical liar, because lying to media and authorities is Antifa’s most common tactic. (Every major claim in Grosskreutz’s testimony would change during the course of the trial.)
Another criticism you may have heard of the judge was that he showed bias by preaching like a grumpy grandpa at the prosecutors from time to time, but the news anchors and commentators who said the judge was biased would only show video of the judge pointing his pen at them, or looking angry at them—they would not play the audio. It’s like they didn’t think you needed to hear why the judge was upset with them.
FOX News Channel did. It sounded to me like the judge was right to pause the proceedings each time, to criticize and warn the prosecutors. They were regularly violating criminal court protocol, to the degree many people who know trial law suspected that they knew exactly what they were doing, knew they didn’t have any real case against Rittenhouse, and were trying to get a mistrial. I suspect something worse.
FOX’s timing of when they broadcast specific clips of the judge, with the audio, looked like FOX was responding directly to when my old news sources played those same clips, muted. It seemed they were airing those clips with audio to disprove my media’s claims that the judge was biased.
It was as tho FOX knew the way I had just seen the judge’s behavior portrayed, and knew how to reveal to me that I had just had something misframed for me. By being muted, those clips didn’t share the sense of what the judge was saying at the moment, and I didn’t hear what laws the prosecutors were violating. I had to believe how what the voiceover was telling me was happening, which was always that the judge was showing his bias against the prosecutors, because the judge was biased—toward Rittenhouse, toward whites, toward white male privilege, and toward Trump.
Another early criticism of the trial was that the jury was biased too. Why? Because altho Rittenhouse had shot three white people, the eleven white members of the jury must have had racial bias against whites who protest the police.
Mm-kay. And why should we believe the jury was biased toward a white who shot three whites because those three whites’ politics weren’t really White white? Because the jury had only one nonwhite person on it. That’s the only explanation I heard. Did you hear any other explanation of why the jury was biased?
The jury was selected by both the prosecution and the defense, because that’s how juries are selected, one of the balances in our system. Each side’s attorneys are given chances to veto, in this case meaning disqualify, candidates for jury selection.
Those veto checks are called peremptory challenges. They are not in the Constitution, but a practice that became much later—a practice that seems to have resulted in fewer biased juries, contrary to my media’s sudden and shared opinion about them.
This means if eleven of the final twelve jurors end up white, each of those whites was allowed to be a candidate by both the prosecution and the defense. And yet, Social Justice-affirming voices criticized the number of whites on Rittenhouse’s jury, the same people who were criticizing the fact there were eleven white jurors in the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers, which was happening at about the same time.
Not mentioned, in any media, was Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissal of a jury candidate who made a joke about the shooting of Jacob Blake. The candidate said the joke had nothing to do with Rittenhouse, which is probably true, but the judge was concerned about maintaining the public’s trust in the trial, and used his power to prevent bias to disqualify him from the jury.
The prevalence of ad hominem commentary during this trial should have activated any educated liberal’s spidey sense. I kept watching it not, even among my college-educated friends, who I knew knew better. Real liberals know to suspect arguments based entirely on presumption about people’s intentions, rather than actions.
On Nov. 12th, before Rittenhouse’s jury’s deliberation, CNN’s Don Lemon said Rittenhouse crossed state lines with an AR-15 because he thought it looked cool. Actually, Lemon gave that misinformation an even more misleading frame:
“because, he said, he thought it looked cool.”
No, he didn’t. Rittenhouse did not cross any state line with any firearm, nor did he say that he did anything like that because he thought it looked cool. CNN was even claiming motivations for the other side… I just realized that assumed CNN takes sides, like they have a cultural enemy… It made perfect sense to everyone reading, didn’t it?
And the prosecution kept acting like they knew those media narratives were continuing outside the courtroom. They referred to Rittenhouse as an “active shooter.” The implied mental association, of the term “active shooter” with school shooters and other mass shooters, may have been intentional. Cameras got to hear Rittenhouse be referred to as an “active shooter” tho the video shown to the jury proved he was not just running around “shooting up people,” as the prosecution said he was.
What is the purpose of describing Rittenhouse as an active shooter, or of saying he was shooting up people, when everyone in the courtroom is going to know that those are misrepresentations?
I kept switching to independent journalists on YouTube, because there was much less biased commentary and much more accurate analysis than anything the major networks’ legal experts were providing. I also kept coming back to the footage being shown on FOX News, of the courtroom and of the night in Kenosha. By itself, that footage explained away each one of Rittenhouse’s charges, enough for me anyway. But on other TV news channels, I was seeing muted courtroom footage, vague accusations of white supremacy, and curious soundbites from lead prosecutor Binger:
“Why do you get to immediately just start shooting?”
Immediately? I understand these words were part of a sense the prosecutors were trying to create for the jury, that Rittenhouse was presenting himself as a threat so the “heroes”—as Binger called the people who surrounded Rittenhouse—could be seen as innocent men just trying to stop an “active shooter,” but the jury saw video that proved Rittenhouse wasn’t just shooting randomly, so for whom were the prosecutors trying to create that sense?
Video shown in the courtroom, and not on the news stations known to be watched by Left-leaning viewers, showed Rittenhouse trying to return to help Rosenbaum after he shot him, showed Rittenhouse being violently stopped from reaching the police, and showed his being struck from behind at least once as he ran and not responding to that strike with violence—just continuing to run. More video not shown on news our tribe is known to watch showed that he always fired in self-defense, and that he exhibited behavior that appeared to be motivated by good intention.
How could the prosecution have thought the jury was going to believe Rittenhouse immediately just started shooting?
I still couldn’t get some my friends who call themselves liberal to watch the footage, not of the courtroom and not of that night in Kenosha. None were interested, tho they’d been interested enough to condemn him. “What do you condemn him for, exactly?” I would ask them. They either wouldn’t answer or would act like “exactly” wasn’t the right way to ask. The crime was systemic, vague, invisible. It was wrong that a white boy had a gun like that and ended up shooting anyone with it. That was the crime: the image of the event, the thought of it.
I didn’t even want them to see evidence that Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense anymore. I wanted them to realize a greater wrong was taking place: They were being lied to, by leaders and experts and lawyers and news networks. Was it too big a wrong for them to face, even tho it was them who was being wronged?
And is that how the racism and sexism of Social Justice survives? Is it just too big a wrong to wrap our heads around? Can Americans not fathom great wrongs?
In the first deadly encounter, Rosenbaum was chasing Rittenhouse, and not the other way around. The first shot fired that night was during that chase, up into the air from the pistol of an unidentified rioter/demonstrator. (I have to use a slash for Antifa revolutionaries/racial justice protestors. If I pick just one label in those pairs, I’m choosing between seeming biased against them and lying to you about the obvious.)
The prosecution could not prove that Rittenhouse had turned and fired at Rosenbaum because he thought that first gunshot was directed at him. Rittenhouse fired at Rosenbaum after Rosenbaum had caught up to him. Still, on progressive commentary shows and even sometimes in television news commentary, people said that hearing the gunshot is why Rittenhouse turned and fired.
I don’t know why he didn’t respond to the gunshot by firing at Rosenbaum. I think I might have, because I’d be running from a man who had threatened my life, and might assume the gunshot behind me was directed at me. Maybe Rittenhouse was so filled with adrenalin he didn’t register the sound of the gunshot. For whatever reason, it didn’t look like he responded to it. Apparently as unaware of the court proceedings as other commentators on the Left, The Young Turks maintained that the gunshot was why he turned and shot Rosenbaum, a few seconds later.
The prosecution’s main argument against Rittenhouse’s self-defense claim was that Rittenhouse had provoked the attacks by Rosenbaum, Huber, and Grosskreutz, because if Rittenhouse had provoked those violent attacks, he could not claim that responding with a lethal weapon was self-defense. In Wisconsin, the burden of proof is on the side trying to disprove a self-defense claim, so it was the onus of the prosecution (it was on the prosecution) to show that Rittenhouse was not defending himself from attacks but instead somehow instigated those attacks.
Ari Melber, a legal analyst or propagandist against law itself, is on YouTube in a clip titled “Murderers: Right-Wing Extremists Indicted by Prosecutors.”
In the charming MSNBC segment, Melber describes Ahmaud Arbery’s killers (without using the word “extremist” tho it was in the clip’s title). He makes the important point that the jury in that murder trial had eleven white jurors. That’s an important point because white people are so racist and we live in a white supremacist country, so mentioning it supports the reality Melber, and MSNBC in general, pretend to inhabit, which is one in which white people are favored by the American justice system.
(Just consider all the evidence! I’ll wait. Take your time. Continue when you’re ready.)
Melber then shows a clip of one of the guys who was there with Rittenhouse, guarding car lots. Melber shows that guy on the witness stand, answering a question about Joseph Rosenbaum during his witness testimony. In that very short clip of his witness testimony, he said he did not consider Rosenbaum a threat, but a babbling idiot instead.
The camera cuts back to Melber pausing with tightlipped disgust on his face, meant to convey a knowing sense he is sharing with me, that Rosenbaum was a “babbling idiot” as the witness described him, and not a potentially mortal threat.
Melber’s implication: Rosenbaum, who rapes nine-year-olds, joined a night protest to yell the n-word at strangers, threatened the lives of people who weren’t actively engaging in property destruction (but instead were committing the Social Crime of protecting property) and chased one of them and tried to grab his gun.
The entirety of Melber’s presentation of Joseph Rosenbaum is those words one of the other civilian guards said in one answer to one question: what his impression of Rosenbaum was when Rosenbaum first confronted them.
According to the rest of that witness account, Rosenbaum was verbally hostile to many people, and threatened to kill Rittenhouse and those with Rittenhouse if he caught any of them alone.
By the way, I think even Rittenhouse himself may not have taken Rosenbaum’s threat seriously at that point, tho at that age I probably would have, and I don’t know. Melber neglects to mention that Rosenbaum did catch Rittenhouse alone later that night, and ambushed him, at which point Rittenhouse’s brain would probably be reassessing how seriously to take Rosenbaum’s murder threat.
Melber knows that Rosenbaum attacked Rittenhouse when Rittenhouse was alone, but sticks with the cherrypicked excerpt of someone saying he didn’t consider Rosenbaum a threat. I’m supposed to think that Rosenbaum was not a threat. Then Melber implies that the real reason Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum was Rosenbaum was a BLM protestor:
“There’s nothing new about this kind of political violence across America. Indeed, what you need to understand is that every time there has been steps [sic] for racial and legal equality, advancing equal rights in America, there has been a rise in violence against black people and those who support civil rights: violence by the state, anti-black terrorism, and violence against people who may not be black but actually stand with black people for their equality, for their human rights.
It happened to the Freedom Riders, in the ‘60s: There was terrorism against those Riders that involved murdering white and black people who were supporting civil rights, just as Rittenhouse is on trial for murdering two white people that supported the idea that black lives matter, which is why he illegally obtained a gun—that’s not in doubt—and showed up at a BLM protest and gunned down two people.”
Let’s look past the blurred-together slush-speak of that paragraph’s structure for a moment, like how smoothly Melber married the political murder of white Freedom Riders to Rittenhouse’s killing of white racial justice protestors in 2020. (What is that blast from sixty years ago for anyway? Context?) I want to know what civil right or human right Melber thinks Rosenbaum and Huber were there to stand up for.
Melber never says. The two white people killed were out there protesting (without any signs or chants, at night) for racial justice, therefore some racial injustice must have happened. Somehow, at some point, Jacob Blake’s civil or human rights had been violated by the Kenosha police. What right, exactly, doesn’t matter.
The reason the weapon was illegal is Rittenhouse’s friend gave it to him, and it is illegal to do that in Wisconsin if the person receiving the gun is a minor, which the purchaser of the weapon, Dominick Black, may or may not have known. According to ABC News, Black was 18 years old when he bought the gun at a hardware store, and this January he pleaded no contest to one charge of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor.
Assistant DA Binger offered that plea deal to him to avoid two felony charges—for purchasing it and for giving it to a minor—possibly because a judge could throw out those felony counts based on that Wisconsin law that has an exception for 17-year-olds. So you can disagree with that exception in Wisconsin law, or with Black’s decision to give what he may have considered a legal rifle to his friend, or with Thomas Binger’s decision to offer a plea deal for the charge, but legally none of that is on Kyle Rittenhouse. Now examine what Melber says:
“… which is why he illegally obtained a gun—that’s not in doubt—and showed up at the BLM protest and gunned down two people.”
Just because Melber sneaks a distracting side note that obtaining an illegal weapon was “not in doubt” into the middle of that sentence doesn’t make me suddenly forget what the entire sentence states about Rittenhouse’s intention. At the end of that sentence, Melber suddenly concludes something unconnected to anything he said about Rittenhouse earlier in the sentence, unless I’m just supposed to be vaguely associating him with killing and terrorism. Look again:
“There was terrorism against those Riders that involved murdering white and black people who were supporting civil rights, just as Rittenhouse is on trial for murdering two white people that supported the idea that black lives matter, which is why he illegally obtained a gun—that’s not in doubt—and showed up at a BLM protest and gunned down two people.”
So “why he” both got the gun and went to a BLM protest was to gun down BLM protestors. That’s the statement. Read it again and you’ll see what the reason “which is why he” is supposed to connect back to. You can almost tell it was written by an obfuscation specialist (they normally work for credit card and finance companies, tho recently their writing style can be found on the CDC’s website).
(The suspicion for me starts with the unnecessary double passive verb constructions in the beginning of the sentence, which seem by habit.)
I guess some people will use their voice for anything their masters tell them to use it for.
Anyway, that mind-twisting paragraph quoted above is an example of what I call slush-speak: language that hides propaganda, lies, and frames a conflation of factors as the assumed premise for discussing a topic or makes other subtle suggestions crafted to slide unnoticed into sloppy, slippery sentence constructions.
It isn’t just for online subscription cancellation forms anymore, America. Professionals liars now speak in it, to you. And what slid in to Melber’s was no less vile than a subliminal suggestion that Rittenhouse wanted to kill, and wanted to kill for political motivations. Pay attention.
“That is the context, for the consequences and the climate, where people openly sympathize with vigilante-ism [vigilantism] or even these killers.”
Okay then, yes, this speech is for context. It was the context for some “consequences” and some “climate,” I guess. I can’t even try to figure out what the consequences “where people sympathize with vigilantism or even killers” even means, and unless Melber is saying the historical context of the 1960s is the same as the current climate of race relations, I don’t know how to understand that last sentence at all, so forgive me for not.
Fortunately, I’m told what I “need to understand,” and that’s that Rittenhouse is the same as Ahmaud Arbery’s killers, none of whom Melber calls extremists but whom the segment’s title implies are “extremist killers.” Also, today is the same as the 1960s, so killing of protestors must be for the same motivation as the racist, planned murders of Freedom Riders, because violence against anyone who claims to be protesting for black people’s rights must be motivated by white supremacy.
Then Melber plays clips of widely hated figures on the Right saying Rittenhouse was in danger, and that he was there to “restore order when no one else would.”
Because of that thinking on race, Melber draws the conclusion that our system hasn’t changed much for seventy years, and is obviously racist. (Very, obviously racist:) “We’re showing you the limits of a system…”
Melber then segues to structural racism, saying there are “all these ways” that it happens. I didn’t hear any of those ways in his segment, unless you count his mention of peremptory challenges, which you know both the prosecution and defense use to disqualify candidates for a jury. He never explains how they are a way structural racism happens in our legal system. People who act like they can show you how peremptory challenges cause racial bias have not, and they will not, because they cannot.
The rest of the clip is a circular argument: Kyle Rittenhouse is a white supremacist, because white and black people were murdered in the 1960s for standing up for civil rights and equal justice under the law, which is the same as Kyle Rittenhouse’s killing of two white protestors protesting racial injustice in 2020, because Kyle Rittenhouse is a white supremacist.
NOTE: A few days later on Nov. 9th, CBS News put out an update on the trial that included witness descriptions of Rittenhouse’s first assailant, Joseph Rosenbaum, as “hyper-aggressive” and behaving “belligerently” that night. They also reported that Rosenbaum threatened the lives of several people, including Rittenhouse. But the accusations and misinformation continued on most networks, and in most the press.
“Supporting” Kyle Rittenhouse’s claim of self-defense (meaning supporting people’s right to due process, or the liberal value of the presumption of innocence, or the right to self-defense against assault) meant you support white supremacy. Just before the jury went into deliberations in mid-November, Joy Reid told the nation that Rittenhouse’s murder trial and the murder trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers “will tell us” the state of race relations and of white supremacy today, and most important:
“… whether armed, primarily white men, can continue to take matters into their own hands and serve as judge, jury, and executioner, legally, under the law.”
If Rittenhouse went free, America’s white men would maintain our ability to execute people without consequence, which is an incredible ability. Fantastic, really.
This is another use of Social Justice’s tactic of linking America’s genuinely white-supremacist past with the 21st Century present, and blurring the two as tho this century’s race relations and legal policies even compare with those of centuries before.
Once Reid set the backdrop as a country still plagued by racist murders, committed with impunity by white males (well, “primarily” white males—people of color can “perform” these rituals too, and thus “support white supremacy”), she equated the chasing and shooting to death of Ahmaud Arbery to what Rittenhouse did, tho it is unlikely she was not aware of the basic facts that made these two cases very different.
So in that one sentence above, Reid placed us in pre-Civil Rights America, because that is where Social Justice lives and demands without challenge that we accept is the present, and then blurred the actions of three chasing, provoking killers with those of a single boy who was attacked by multiple people and shot three.
And that’s the frame for the rest of her segment, the frame her viewers are supposed to accept before she proceeds with the rest of her analysis. Later she binds the two cases together even more, again only with her language: She talks to Shaquille Brewster—an MSNBC reporter on the scene, near the courthouse in Kenosha—when she asks him whether people were predicting Rittenhouse would be found guilty and adds,
“because I think in general there’s a lot of cynicism, particularly among African-Americans, but I wonder if the people who were protesting against what Rittenhouse did, did they think that he will be convicted…?”
Brewster answers that they did not, that the protestors there at the courthouse were there to “pressure” the jury into convicting Rittenhouse of murder but did not think he’d be found guilty. Brewster then reports that his crew talked to a local business owner who thought Rittenhouse should not be found guilty either.
So that’s the word from the street: people in Kenosha thought Rittenhouse should be found not guilty, and the visiting protestors thought he would be found not guilty too but were there to pressure the jury toward a different outcome anyway.
It left me wondering if the protestors thought he’d be found not guilty because of his skin color or because of the facts of the case and indisputable video evidence. Then I wondered if such protestors would ever be honest on camera about why they thought he would be found not guilty, or just say it’s because he’s white because that’s what Social Justice says. Then I wondered if they had bothered to watch the video of Rittenhouse’s actions. Then I wondered if they had watched excerpts of the video, but were not shown the parts that vindicated him.
Later in that MSNBC segment (search: Joy Reid Judge Jury Executioner), one legal commentator is asked about the judge’s unusual procedure for picking the jury, when he let Rittenhouse himself draw one of the names from a lottery tumbler. I think the judge might have been flexing on the prosecutors at that point, if I stand back from it all far enough, or it may be true that he was trying to give a teenager a sense of any control over his own destiny, which the media had deprived him of since the moment Rosenbaum’s death was reported.
I think the judge was convinced that Rittenhouse was innocent and the prosecutors were not. I think that lottery draw the alleged murderer himself participated in sure did seem unnecessary, and showed favoritism. I still think everything the judge said and ruled was fair, and in line with presiding over a court of law. But yeah that tumbler thing showed some bias.
The other legal commentator Reid brings on, who is asian, mentions that she is glad the courtroom broke for pizza that day and not for asian food again. The judge had made some joke at an earlier lunch break about asian food—some in the court were talking about the asian food delivery being late and he said he hoped it wasn’t on one of those ships meaning those that had been waiting off the California coast, held at bay during the container ship backup last year. Because get it? If it’s asian food maybe it’s on one of those ships from asia still waiting to dock.
That was the joke, and someone in the courtroom reported it as a racial incident and now my news outlets were passing around that the judge made an dumb joke playing off the word “asian,” not any joke about asian people.
“I’m glad to hear they had pizza and not asian lunch because I don’t know what the judge would have said about lunch today,” said Katie Phang, hold on… “if it had been asian lunch again.”
“Yeah he’s had thoughts about asian lunch, hasn’t he?,” concurred Joy Reid, “They’ve been very interesting thoughts…”
Have they, Joy Reid? What were those thoughts and why were they interesting?
I don’t know what else we should expect from racial division-reliant MSNBC at this point. They just had a white woman who pronounces “latina” with a sudden and intense accent tell their audience that not asking questions in Spanish when officials were investigating the shooting in Uvalde, Texas is “offensive.”
(That’s all she had to teach us from what she learned, by the way, about Uvalde. I don’t even think she went there. Just needed to tell us that it offends hispanics, living in America, for journalists not to speak Spanish when they call a town in Texas to interview people. She also questioned if the police response to the Uvalde shooting would have been different had most the school children been white. No one else in America has been thinking that but she is an expert in such things.)
Back to things Joy Reid found interesting during the trial MSNBC was covering:
“… That and his phone going off with, like, the song they play at Trump rallies, but we won’t go too deeply into that…”
Of course not, because judges’ phones go off sometimes and sometimes the ringtones are songs, and sometimes common songs are played at political rallies, where many, many songs are licensed to be played. Reid won’t be going “too deeply into that,” or the judge’s asian food “thoughts,” or anything else she speaks about because skimming the surface while framing her subjects in a racialized light is more effective if her audience never knows the details or intentions or context.
Liberals believe strongly in equal justice under the law, also called “equal protection under the law.” That’s why our liberal society considers competent legal representation a right. It’s there where I think our legal system fails, but I think that’s because I’ve seen the effects of incompetent or overburdened representation—usually free attorneys assigned by the court—in my own cases and those of loved ones, and because my mother, after her first deade of pro bono legal work, told me that half the people behind bars today “wouldn’t be there if they had had better representation.”
Even if competent and well rested attorneys seem to be in place, we liberals are still skeptical. Most Americans who themselves liberals are highly aware of the tendency in our legal system for the rich to find justice—or escape it—while the poor hope for sufferable plea bargains (and are pressured toward taking those plea bargains, in ways I will never consider just). If someone activates our tendency to distrust a legal process, particularly in criminal justice, we are open to being convinced that a trial is not fair, or that a jury is biased, and we’ll look for evidence supporting that possibility.
The Rittenhouse trial was suspicious because of our confirmation bias, my bleeding-heart brethren. And that’s because our media was showing us only reinforcement for such suspicions, even making some up as it went, and avoiding all evidence that process was fair.
confirmation bias: the tendency to interpret incoming evidence as confirmation of ones existing beliefs, theories, or suspicions.
Our incorrectly labeled “liberal media” had already been telling America for months that white supremacist Kyle Rittenhouse had “provoked” his attackers, transported an illegal weapon, and gone to a protest to shoot people he disagreed with politically.
As the trial evidence put to rest these and other claims they had made about the defendant, I watched the legal commentators on ABC, NBC, the terrible 24-hour cable news channels, progressive commentators online, and the editorialists in at least a dozen newspapers, pivot their focus from those false reports that were steadily being debunked in court, to the judge, or the race of eleven jurors, or what looked like “oddities” in the courtroom, or to the American legal system itself.
The coverage had gone from denouncing the innocent before he was proven guilty to denouncing the court itself, disqualifying the judge, and calling the jury racist. I noticed that the shared message in all these new criticisms was that we could not trust the verdict to be fair.