The verdict is in. After a very strange and highly-publicized trial, a jury of twelve has found the now-adult Kyle Rittenhouse NOT GUILTY of all charges. The jury deliberated for several days, and now it has spoken. Yes, Rittenhouse killed two men and wounded a third, but in self-defense.
So… it should be over, right? In America’s best legal traditions and constitutional practice, the case has been decided. Rittenhouse walks now as a free man. The issue is resolved.
Most commentators are looking at the trial and the response – people far more capable of doing so and expressing themselves well than those of us here at The Price of Liberty. So let us talk instead about some other issues.
The verdict in the court in Kenosha was “not guilty.” But in the “Court of Public Opinion” we have a hung jury. And the effects are and will spreading nationwide.
Both sides are bearing down hard on the same things they wrote, said (or screamed) during the trial itself. Both sides? The “pro-Kyle” so-called conservative “right-wing” and the “anti-Rittenhouse” so-called progressive, “left-wing” of social justice warriors, media influencers, and the like. Including the current regimes not just in DC but in many States, including apparently nearby Illinois (Rittenhouse’s home State).
(I honestly am not sure which side most Libertarians, libertarians, self-governors, and lovers of liberty are in. I suspect that the great majority see this as a rare modern court victory for individual, God-given rights of self-defense and free association. But I will not be surprised if there are those who call themselves Libertarians who are anti-Rittenhouse.)
What little I have read of the mainstream media makes it clear: not just in opinion pieces but in the news stories themselves, The writers and editors condemn Rittenhouse, judge and jury – as well as prosecution, defense, and the entire system.
The rhetoric used by government officials and media and activists during the trial continues: white supremacy/supremist, racialization and racial bias, vigilante, paranoia, and more.
But there is more: the entire idea of a jury system and elected judges is questioned and condemned. The idea is trashed that Justice should be blind – ignoring color and race, wealth and fame. (Yes, we know and acknowledge that often times law enforcement and the court system DO wrongly play favorites based on these very factors. Such is wrong: antithetical to liberty and justice.) Do I understand correctly? Are many of these activists and government officials pushing the idea that justice MUST be biased in favor of preferred race or color? (As long as that race is not Anglo or European, and that color is not white.)
And Rittenhouse is hailed by those who hate him and what he did as being typical of almost all so-called privileged white people in the States – if not around the world.
While the so-called conservative side takes heart that sometimes (in their view, at least) justice CAN be served, their opponents want to sidestep that and “reform” what has been the English and Western ideal of justice for centuries – if not millennia. Of course, too many “right-wing” DO NOT understand. While this court and jury have done what they hoped for, the very next court case could do the opposite. And like their opponents, they fail to take into account the context in which Rittenhouse did what he did.
What was the context? A policeman shot and seriously wounded a black man, wanted on multiple warrants, in the midst of a domestic disturbance. Protests and riots because of the shooting erupted within hours, quickly including burning and looting of businesses. Rittenhouse was among the many who responded to help business owners defend themselves. Ultimately the man shot plea-bargained his charges of sexual assault and domestic violence down to misdemeanors for disorderly conduct, in effect (in the eyes of at least some) denying justice to his alleged victim. (The police officer claimed, among other things, that the man shot was in the processes of kidnapping the alleged victim’s child and stealing her car – for which no charges were ever filed.) I don’t think there were any protests or riots after that plea bargain was announced.
To put it another way, the disease of uncivil behavior, division, and conflict is already widespread: the Rittenhouse verdict is just spawning a variant.
The venom spewed at Rittenhouse before and during the trial will continue and increase. And will inevitably splatter on many others like him. Like Sandmann before him (remember the January 2019 confrontation in DC), he will be ever more vilified. Although so far protests and riots have been relatively limited across the Fifty States – at least as compared to the destruction and mayhem seen in many cities in 2020 and earlier this year – they HAVE happened. And more certainly should be expected. (As usual, protestors expend their hatred on private businesses, vehicles, and other property as much or more than they do on government property (including police). But the governments that they are attacking have nothing to do with the verdict or previous events!)
The divisions within the States are growing. We cannot predict the outcome.
Of concern to some, prominent national leaders are ignoring the facts of the Rittenhouse case as determined by judge and jury. Federal intervention is demanded, despite such intervention being unconstitutional. Of course we know that such intervention is unlikely, and virtually certain to result in nothing concrete (except continued waste of taxpayer money). But the purpose is to motivate their base.
Indeed, the jury’s verdict, like the trial testimony and antics, is being used by BOTH sides to encourage and further enflame their bases. And whatever the outcome, whichever side wins (if they do), our freedoms and liberties are unlikely to prosper.
What do we do? Innoculate ourselves and our communities with truth, stay calm, and be prepared. And pray.