WORDS: 1,247 — Everyone has an opinion on this trial and the end result. But I tend to think that this is less about any opinion for or against the verdict, and far more about the ramifications of loosening gun laws and the impact on society in general. This is not about some Second Amendment interpretation of “freedom”, but rather a violation of our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without the intimidating trigger finger of an openly armed, unregulated, populace.
Let’s face it… the entire Rittenhouse affair is all about open carry. It’s legal in Wisconsin and the video supports Rittenhouse’;s defense of using self-defense against his three victims, of which two are deceased. I see no shock & awe in the verdict, but that by no means suggests I can’t assign some moral responsibility.. to all players in this tragedy. It also doesn’t mean I am anywhere near being in favor of open carry of long guns. With the inspiration of a couple fellow blogmeisters I thought I would make a followup post to my first “Rickenhouse” post from four days ago. Following the verdict I ended up spending a fair amount of time commenting on four Conservative blogs with members trying to celebrate the victory for armed self-defense. Needless to say I was about as welcome as another pandemic with my… alternate gun opinion.
To be clear… my faith in the Constitution includes all laws created using the processes therein, whether the laws.. suck.. or are great. I believe if we want to change bad laws then we do it according to the Constitution, which includes exercising our vote to elect supportive lawmakers. A construct of any democracy is that it’s always a work in progress… and is NEVER perfect, because humans run the show. I came across an article in The Atlantic by David French, that eloquently describes my own “Rittenhouse” opinion in my last post and this one. Rather than belabor in my own words I’ll cite using the author’s own words. If you want to read his entire article go HERE.
When Kyle Rittenhouse walked the streets of Kenosha in the midst of urban unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake holding a rifle in the “patrol carry” or “low ready” position, similar to the positions used by soldiers walking in towns and villages in war zones, without any meaningful training, he was engaged in remarkably dangerous and provocative conduct. But that dangerous and provocative conduct did not eliminate his right of self-defense, and that self-defense claim is the key issue of his trial, not the wisdom of his vigilante presence.
As seen in Kenosha, in anti-lockdown protests in Washington State, and in the riot in Charlottesville, one of the symbols of the American hard right is the “patriot” openly carrying an AR-15 or similar weapon. The “gun picture” is a common pose for populist politicians. Mark and Patricia McCloskey leveraged their clumsy and dangerous brandishing of weapons at Black Lives Matter protesters into an appearance at the Republican National Convention. Rittenhouse is the next step in that progression. He’s the “patriot” who didn’t just carry his rifle; he used it.
But there is also an immense difference between quiet concealed carry and vigilante open carry, including in ham-handed and amateurish attempts to accomplish one of the most difficult tasks in all of policing—imposing order in the face of civil unrest. And there is a dramatic difference between the use of weapons as a last resort, when your life or the lives of others are in immediate danger, and the open carrying of weapons as an intimidation tactic or as an intentionally disconcerting display of political identity and defiance.
Most of the right-wing leaders voicing their admiration for Rittenhouse are simply adopting a pose. On Twitter, talk radio, and Fox News, hosts and right-wing personalities express admiration for Rittenhouse but know he was being foolish. They would never hand a rifle to their own children and tell them to walk into a riot. They would never do it themselves.
He didn’t impose order. He didn’t stop a riot. He left a trail of bodies on the ground, and two of the people he shot were acting on the belief that Rittenhouse himself was an active shooter. He had, after all, just killed a man.
So What Becomes Of Kyle Now That He’s Been Acquitted?
I am quite sure this young man, still a teenager, will lead a troubled life as time for him moves on. He will be taken advantage of, he will fall victim to others wanting to take advantage of him for money and fame and to promote various agendas. He’s already being sucked up by Tucker as some gun-totting self-defense hero in exchange for some financial assistance in his legal defense. I’m being reminded of those TV commercials for Disney years ago where Disney signed on a prospective winner of some popular sporting event prior to their winning, to accept their trophy and answer the agreed question for the camera… “John Doe… you’ve won the [insert sport here] what are you going to do now?” And the response, seemingly spontaneous, is always, “I’m going to Disneyland!”. Actually, I think a trip to Disneyland wouldn’t hurt Kyle about now, because everything that follows his acquittal will be nothing resembling a fun trip to the Magic Kingdom.
His name alone, like O.J. Simpson, will be easily remembered for what he did as he applies for various things like college, his training to be an EMT, obviously his trying to get any sort of employment. To be sure, in all that he will indeed find allies who support what he did and give him favor for that… but whatever environment he is in.. there will be people who will resent what he did, and hate what he has come to represent. Between his act on that day.. the stress of the trial itself… and the subsequent confusing mix of supporters and haters as he goes through life… the boy will likely suffer his own version of PTSD… and very likely become a risk to himself years from now. This was a kid inserted into a world of adult decisions, permitted by law to act, but limited by lack of experience to understand how to act. Completely unaware himself of the effects of his own actions, in spite of his proclivity to think he was helping. He is going to be used and abused. Being Kyle Rittenhouse will be no picnic going forward. Should it matter? After all he killed two people and permanently injured another. It matters because he will end up being part of this tragedy. He was not an evil person. Misguided, yes. Inexperienced in life.. yes. Himself a victim of our permissive society for the sake of politics surrounding the Second Amendment. He is not “free”.
If the jury acquits Rittenhouse [Note: It did.], it will not be a miscarriage of justice. The law gives even foolish men the right to defend their lives. But an acquittal does not make a foolish man a hero. A political movement that turns a deadly and ineffective vigilante into a role model is a movement that is courting more violence and encouraging more young men to recklessly brandish weapons in dangerous places, and that will spill more blood in America’s streets.
Exactly what I’ve been saying… and sadly, exactly what will likely not be heard before more people die.