Disagreeing Without Being Disagreeable: The Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict

W.J. Astore

Disagreements are part of life. And indeed my friends, and readers of this blog, have been known to disagree with me. And thank goodness for that! Who’d want obsequious toadies for friends? And, if I’m writing articles that are truly “bracing,” obviously I should expect disagreements. And I do, which is one of the best aspects of this site. We learn from people who disagree with us, that is, when they have reasons well supported by facts, or wisdom learned from their own life experiences, and so on.

America is highly polarized today, and it seems as if people can no longer disagree without being disagreeable. Discussions quickly become arguments, which turn into shouting matches, with lots of name-calling and attacks on people and their alleged motives and leanings.

There’s nothing wrong with impassioned disagreement. But too many people start from there and quickly descend to being disagreeable, even violently so. The end result is that no common ground is discovered, nothing is learned, and any kind of concerted action to effect meaningful change is sabotaged.

Take the case of Kyle Rittenhouse. He was recently acquitted of murder after shooting three people during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, that turned violent. The jury found that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt. I’ve watched video from the protests, and it appears to me that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. Other people may watch this video evidence and watch the trial and reach a different conclusion, and that’s OK. We should be able to discuss this reasonably and rationally, while putting some faith in the verdict reached by the jury.


Scanning my Facebook feed, however, I see polarization and vituperation about the verdict. It seems like if you agree with the verdict of “not guilty,” you’re obviously a white supremacist, a gun enthusiast, and a Trump supporter. On the other hand, if you disagree with the verdict, you’re obviously a libtard who hates guns and wants to defund the police. It’s a disagreeable mess with no common ground except mutual suspicion, even hate.

Even as I wrote those words, I got an email with an article on the verdict:

Kyle Rittenhouse, white supremacy, and the privilege of self-defense

Rittenhouse has the benefit of boyhood — white boyhood

By Jeneé Osterheldt

In this article, Osterheldt writes that the three white victims of Rittenhouse were “perceived to be fighting for Black lives to matter,” so their lives were “also up for grabs.” But Rittenhouse, also white, was supported by the system because he “believ[ed] in the authority of whiteness.” His life was apparently never “up for grabs.”

This author then authoritatively declares that: “Had he [Rittenhouse] been white and protecting Black lives in Kenosha instead of purportedly protecting cars, he’d be in prison. Or maybe cops would have pepper-sprayed him instead of giving him gratitude and water. Rittenhouse has the privilege of white power.”

Again, based on the video evidence and the trial, I don’t see this verdict as being driven by “white power” and privilege. Rittenhouse’s first victim was a man who chased him, threatened him, and tried to take his gun from him. The second victim was beating Rittenhouse with a skateboard. The third victim (wounded in the arm) was pointing a gun at Rittenhouse, as he himself admitted during the trial. The jury watched the videos, heard the testimony, and decided Rittenhouse’s actions did not constitute murder or attempted murder. From what I’ve seen and heard, I agree with the jury.

Now, it shouldn’t matter, but all three of Rittenhouse’s victims were white. Two of the three were attacking him before they were shot (the two he killed), and the other pointed a handgun at him (the one he wounded). The first man he shot was mentally unbalanced; video at the scene shows him shouting racial obscenities, including the N-word, at Blacks, daring them to shoot him.

So, I disagree that Rittenhouse’s acquittal is an example of white privilege and power. I shouldn’t have to say this, but I’ll add that I support the Black Lives Matter movement, that I’m not a “gun enthusiast,” and that I’ve never voted for Trump and never will. (I’m not a fan of Biden either.)

We can disagree based on evidence, reason, facts. We can disagree without being disagreeable. Can’t we?

53 thoughts on “Disagreeing Without Being Disagreeable: The Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict

  1. When court cases become causes célèbres and transcend the facts of the case, faith in the ability of the courts to adjudicate fairly is undermined, much like many now believe the voting/balloting system to be corrupted beyond reliability. Results can no longer be trusted. The OJ Simpson verdict was such a failure. Journalists whipping the public into a froth over racial issues, whether earnest or cynical, are not helping matters.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yes WJA, you have a point. I agree with almost all of your posts (great blog!!) but I don’t consider myself an obsequious toadie ;-0

    Another ”wider” point is as follows… why are people allowed to wander around with guns – automatic rifles – assault weapons? In most developed countries, we rely on the rule of law and law enforcement officials for safety and security. Macho vigilantism and the wild-west mentality have no place in an advanced society. Had Mr Rittenhouse not had a gun, there probably would not have been two deaths and I doubt the second victim would have taken to slamming him with a skateboard.

    I know … 2nd Amendment can of worms!! But that can of worms will be in the stew that will cook the USA to misery.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes, we are a gun-happy society. And guns are about killing, even if it’s couched in terms of self-defense.

      A common bumper sticker sums it up: “God, guns and guts made America great.”

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Exactly, Paul. Rittenhouse was underage and illegally took a gun across state lines to get involved in a chaotic, by-definition confrontational situation. The only explanation for those actions was that he was looking for trouble, out of some sense of macho vigilante-ism. I think he has no excuse for the outcome.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I strongly agree DD, and I see this sordid trial as basically a gun-control issue that highlights the descent of Wisconsin to a proving-ground for right-wing ALEC policies. (Which is sad for a lifelong resident of WI like myself, since I can recall when it was relatively progressive back in the late 60’s/early 70’s) While I can see how the defense team in the trial could successfully (unfortunately) strip-away the context of the situation and narrow the focus to a specific action, it requires ignoring the fact that Rittenhouse made a conscious decision to take a highly-lethal, illegally possessed weapon into the already chaotic and sometimes violent protests that were going on, of which he had no stake in, and thus should bear a significant responsibility for the violent events that transpired. I get it that he was/is a naive, dumb kid who probably had romantic notions of being a protector of some kind (reportedly he wanted to guard a car lot that had been vandalized nights before), but we can’t have ARMED vigilantes roaming our streets, and to let him off without even an illegal weapons conviction was a miscarriage of justice and will only embolden the right wing militia forces in this country. I believe he should have at least been convicted on manslaughter and illegal possession of a firearm. And while his victims share some of the blame for trying to disarm him, he could have dropped or surrendered his weapon at any time and the attacks would’ve stopped, but people don’t think rationally in those instances, which is why SANE societies prohibit private ownership of semi-automatic weapons, much less public brandishing of them.
        Also, the police presence in this episode was ‘remote’ and even encouraging to Rittenhouse, and they’re now being sued by one of the victim’s parents. Even as a progressive, at the time I lamented the lack of something like the national guard at these sometimes violent protests, to maintain some kind of order, minimize property damage, and prevent armed yahoos like Rittenhouse walking around provoking armed conflicts.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. rittenhouse fancied himself unassailable, set out to prove his invincibility w/ lethal weaponry, was never thwarted, will now roam the neocon halls of power, and will be invited to climb the stage above trump-besotted crowds to speechify at 200,000$-a-pop. .

          Liked by 1 person

            1. a noteworthy and admirable solution for the deluded fellow, wja. however, kyle is likely on his merry way to banking more lucre in a week than he could ever manage in a year as a buck private. the repug-nants are already arriving on his front stoop w/ their pots full of fiscal and ill-begotten subventions.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. From the videos I’ve seen, it does not appear that the police on site had the slightest interest in apprehending the young boy who had just wounded and killed some other persons with his automatic weapon, whatever the facts of the altercation. Usually the cops arrest (or beat or kill) protesters first and only bother to ask questions later.

    Oh, well. To me it looks like yet another case here of Boobie Sub-Cognitive Symbolic Stimulus-Response.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Aside: I find it interesting how so many people will condemn a court verdict who have not sat in the jury box of the trial themselves, or any jury box for that matter.

    What makes people unable to disagree without being disagreeable is “conclusion-based thinking.” That is the process of having a conclusion and sticking to it while actively rejecting any observations that contradict the conclusion.

    The antidote is “observation-based thinking.” That is the process of actively seeking out observations that may contradict with the conclusion in order to come up with a more accurate and more effective conclusion.

    Conclusion-based thinking feels good, but is not helpful in solving problems. It leads to doing the same action over and over expecting a different response.

    Observation-based thinking makes us uneasy, but leads to more effective solutions.

    Humans have a strong tendency to think and act in order to reduce unease even when that makes their lives more difficult. A clear design flaw in the species.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes.., I was trained to protect life and property in both the Air Force when I Enlisted and trained as a Air Police and then also upon being a Appointed Trained Public Servant Professional City Firefighter/ Medic. Unfortunately I can’t see into the heart or soul of a man plus what drives a man in his beliefs and actions in this Case, but as a Fire, Police albeit Mil., and Medic. I also believe this kid of Seventeen acted in Self Defense. He’ll have to live with it with all the associated P.T.S.D. that I believe he’ll be experiencing. I don’t envy his time left on Earth either because he has to live with what he did!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As I read about this and watched the videos, a couple of lines from The Rolling Stones popped into my head: And I went down to the demonstration/ To get my fair share of abuse.

      It seems quite a few people went to the demonstration seeking a “fair share of abuse.” Combine that with lots of guns …

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I heard this was this Kid’s hometown maybe like DiNiro’s Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver” he finally had enough and Snapped…!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. On the other hand, in regard to living with it, Rittenhouse has already made a statement that there is nothing wrong with defending yourself. That’s true, but I fear that this kid is going to become the poster boy for gun advocates and that the pay for him appearing and making a speech, though not as much of an income as Hillary derived from the banksters, could provide a career for someone who had been at a loss on that before now.

      Liked by 2 people

    When America’s youth answer the call of duty and gorge themselves on feasts that feature the indoctrination of war implementation so elegantly laden with side dishes of blood, guts, and gore, to the point of overflowing; most assuredly one can expect to meet minds that have been mismanaged with great skill, and trained in the best psy-ops to maim and kill. Moms, like John Brown’s, driving their sons across borders, dressed to kill in their uniforms,and proud to know they’ve got a gun so that American capitalist interests can be protected. I lie awake now and wonder how Vietnamese, Afghani, and Iraqi, citizens will fare inside the American judicial system when they use the “defense” defense???
    Does our justice apply to them; when our belligerent youth burst into their cities intent on turning the businesses they support into piles of ruble. How many of US will return to them the verdict Not Guilty for defending their property; when they use the “defense” defense strategy? Maybe our laws become fluid once they cross borders; like the water down the board that tortures the throat and lungs; and removes the last breath of truth from the dying man’s wishes for normalcy inside this blinding reality. The thought process inside the mind of a young Wisconsin skateboarder was horribly silenced! That silence speaks volumes! The masters of war are well satisfied that they can make men out of boys! And fools out of the rest of us for believing that adults should send their children to do the bidding of America’s Political Class!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. John Brown went off to war to fight on a foreign shore
      His mama sure was proud of him
      He stood straight and tall in his uniform and all
      His mama’s face broke out all in a grin

      “Oh son, you look so fine, I’m glad you’re a son of mine
      You make me proud to know you hold a gun
      Do what the captain says, lots of medals you will get
      And we’ll put them on the wall when you come home”

      As that old train pulled out, John’s ma began to shout
      Tellin’ ev’ryone in the neighborhood
      “That’s my son that’s about to go, he’s a soldier now, you know”
      She made well sure her neighbors understood

      She got a letter once in a while and her face broke into a smile
      As she showed them to the people from next door
      And she bragged about her son with his uniform and gun
      And these things you called a good old-fashioned war

      Oh, good old-fashioned war!

      Then the letters ceased to come, for a long time they did not come
      They ceased to come for about ten months or more
      Then a letter finally came saying, “Go down and meet the train
      Your son’s a-coming home from the war”

      She smiled and went right down, she looked everywhere around
      But she could not see her soldier son in sight
      But as all the people passed, she saw her son at last
      When she did she could hardly believe her eyes

      Oh his face was all shot up and his hand was all blown off
      And he wore a metal brace around his waist
      He whispered kind of slow, in a voice she did not know
      While she couldn’t even recognize his face!

      Oh, lord, not even recognize his face!

      “Oh tell me, my darling son, pray tell me what they done
      How is it you come to be this way?”
      He tried his best to talk but his mouth could hardly move
      And the mother had to turn her face away

      “Don’t you remember, ma, when I went off to war
      You thought it was the best thing I could do?
      I was on the battleground, you were home acting proud
      You wasn’t there standing in my shoes”

      “Oh, and I thought when I was there, God, what am I doing here?
      I’m a-tryin’ to kill somebody or die tryin’
      But the thing that scared me most was when my enemy came close
      And I saw that his face looked just like mine”

      Oh, lord, just like mine!

      “And I couldn’t help but think, through the thunder rolling and stink
      That I was just a puppet in a play
      And through the roar and smoke, this string is finally broke
      And a cannonball blew my eyes away”

      As he turned away to walk, his ma was still in shock
      At seein’ the metal brace that helped him stand
      But as he turned to go, he called his mother close
      And he dropped his medals down into her hand

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Medals only turn to Rust in the end, but I wonder what Words his Comrades in Arms had to say about his Sacrifice, and to me that’s all that would matter not Medals..!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Rust never sleeps. Neither does the subtle sowing of seed from our MIC; the message is everywhere I look in the USofA. They created the network and gaming systems that helps our youth grow up to admire High-tech weaponry. They are pacified by the normalcy of reaching conclusions through the implementation of a dispute resolution process that chooses military grade hardware to dot the exclamation point at the end of their stated judgments. Adults allowed a 17 year old, extremely inexperienced, child the “freedom” to follow his misguided dreams of adventure. Who is now haunted by the foggy PTSD dreams that are coupled to the implementation of such a violent defense strategy. Mr. Rittenhouse wasn’t armed with the language of reason and understanding; that would allow him to disagree with his fellow citizens in the spirit of mutual understanding. There was no white flag tied to the barrel of his fascination of choice. There was no elder in his life that taught him how to exchange ideas between each other with a dignity that learns to function peacefully amongst the difference. It must not have been a priority of his chosen peers to help him navigate between these opposites.
          The mother in Dylan’s, John Brown saga leapt out at me the first time I ever heard it. That character still haunts me as the driving force behind her Johnny’s interest in the science of war. I would like to know who was the driving force behind Mr. Rittenhouse’s interest in warlike solutions of armed exchanges, instead of verbal attempts at understanding and tolerance. Caught up inside this culture of contest. A preponderance of military dominant prompts from inside and the outside are causing foolish behavior and no matter how much one of our elected officials wants to believe this was a medal worthy occasion. I’m not down with tagging this a Medal of Honor performance.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Indeed the kid was only following a Warrior wannabe discipline. He’s fortunate to still be in one piece.
            A Kid only physically thinking he was a true Patriot battling bravely against insurmountable odds like they all are! That is the challenge of life trying to sustain a warrior spirit in the 9 to 5 dry, dull, boring, world. The young want that Crusade!

            Liked by 2 people

            1. There’s a test tube of sadness dribbled into that beaker of truth. When the crusading games that youth insert themselves into without, proper guidance, start to mimic the violent dash of a 17 year old through the street legal protest; the lines of reality are blurred and so is our understanding. There’s no way that the fantasy crusader behind the joystick can honestly claim that the real life version of such orchestrated mayhem provides the same thrill of victory. When I watch the videos of Mr. Rittenhouse’s dangerous dash through the mean streets of Kenosha, i can let my imagination wander into the “fantasy” and accept the perspective that this is just a computer geeks creation for fun and entertainment.
              Having lived through a “day job” career I have developed the mindset that makes one believe that it takes so much more strength to value that commitment to excellence where there is no “heroic” reward; than to live the life of a crusader, either in real time or vicariously. But at 17 I knew so little that I’m sure the fate of a day to day hourly career produced a significant fear for the mundane. Excitement in many forms is what we were looking for back in the day; and I am thankful for the correction my elders applied to save me from myself.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. one’s youth-addled angst over the dearth of adventure, or the mundane and banausic trivialization of life’s daily dictates and importunings that you have so palpably described, utejack, could be leavened by requiring every single medically-fit american and canadian 17~18-year old, male and femme, to spend one year in a 3rd/4th-world village, peace corps/CUSO style, before being allowed to return to his/her country of citizenship… i.e. quondam to his/her entering the workplace or an institution of higher education.

                such programs could be funded by the respective govt’s reducing its military budget and redirecting the requisite funds to apolitical practical programs that concentrate their goals on solving practical problems, whether quotidian or quintessential, w/in each village to which s/he is assigned… such as building a bus shelter, digging wells, elutriating water supplies, or providing sanitary toilet facilities for the villagers.

                JFK tried to implement the peace corps program on a volunteer basis, whereas, it should have been implemented on a conscript basis, post high school, as in the military. instead of kids’ being repatriated to their home countries suffering from PTSD and suicidal proclivities, they would return transformed by their experiences. their ‘watersheds’ would be an epiphanic dynamic rather than a transmogrified dynamic, as is the case w/ a multitude of repatriated combat troops.

                Liked by 3 people

                1. That’s a solid educational experience that would insert the powerfully potent presence of gratitude into the hearts of impressionable wide eyed youth. I have felt that time spent doing mentoring service with the local special needs population would awaken a wholistic sense of awareness for the young participants that would inform their daily interactions throughout their later years. Service out of ones comfort zones changes everything.

                  Liked by 1 person

                2. w/ certitude, utejack… tho’ it seems as if we are tilting at windmills in the expectation such a chimera could become reality in the US.

                  and tnx, wja, for initiating this discussion, inspired by your captivating but controversial exegesis. also for providing this forum for exchanging ideas and opinions.

                  Liked by 1 person

  7. Sadly, I agree also, though I thought they might find some lesser included offense to hang on him. I doubt we’ve seen the last of Rittenhouse, I suspect he is just beginning his career as an a–hole and I suspect he’ll be involved in another deadly altercation someday.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Entirely agree with you Jeanie, there should be some sort of service year for all American youth. Seems that the only rite of passage for an American male is to go to some one else’s country and kill them. There is plenty of adventure in doing constructive things and helping make the world better instead of blowing it up.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “rite of passage”… a condign phrase, wjscott2… and as you suggest, that passage leading toward adulthood should be constructive, not destructive, a ‘service’ year on behalf of humanity, not a ‘service’ year on behalf of the pentagon, generals’ pantheon of medals, the MIC and its complicit congress or parliaments.

        if the israelis can do it, so can the US, UK, australia, and canada [where such humanitarian services are strictly voluntary ‘gap’ years]. during our years in nepal’s himal [1992~’97], we often met young israelis who were conscripted, but whose govt offered them the choice of serving their 2 years of state-mandated military service in a humanitarian capacity instead, whence they would be involved in programs similar to our CUSO and US peace corps programs. we should go one step beyond the israelis and require conscripted services in developing countries ONLY on behalf of humanitarian endeavours… i.e. no choice in the matter betwixt military or eleemosynary ‘service’.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m so sick of media narratives that make it almost impossible to understand ‘what REALLY happened’ in almost all but the most mundane instances. Kyle is a hero/Antifa is destroying America vs. Kyle is a white supremacist/All BLM protests are mostly peaceful. Neither of these polar opposites paints a truthful picture, which is why I welcomed Freddie DeBoer’s post on these issues: “When You Condone Chaos [the less-than-peaceful Kenosha protests] You Condone the Consequences of Chaos [the Rittenhouse shootings]. I’m both a liberal and a Liberal, but I’m sick to death of ‘my side’ excusing excesses of ‘our tribe’ and then going batsh*t crazy by any infraction by the other side. As you suggest, I soooo wish that we could discuss these events as reasonable people ….


    Liked by 2 people

  9. Kyle Rittenhouse shot three people.
    The first served 14 years in prison for raping a child and then for dozens of in-prison disciplinary violations. He was a registered sex offender and was found guilty of assault, arson and narcotics crimes. He was wanted at the time of the shooting for bail-jumping and domestic abuse, and had been released from a hospital for a suicide attempt a few hours before the shooting. He was chasing Rittenhouse when Rittenhouse turned around and shot him.

    The second had been convicted of domestic abuse and served time in 2012 for choking his brother. He was swinging his skateboard at Rittenhouse, avidly, at the time Rittenhouse shot him.

    The third, who survived, was armed with a handgun for which he had a concealed weapons permit – which was expired. He testified and the video shows that he pointed the gun at Rittenhouse before Rittenhouse shot him.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I agree WJA, and applaud your courage in defending the truth even if it is a sordid case to which it applies. I also agree that this person’s karma is going to be bad for a long time, and that may be punishment enough for him. By karma I do not mean the Buddhist sort but rather the here and now sort.

    It is the case that most humans do ‘conclusion based’ reasoning. This is exactly what the lawyers do, so it does not say much for our justice system which is really a legal system most of the time.

    It seems to be hard wired into the human brain to do conclusion based reasoning. The real issue is how to fix that so people can make logical decisions instead of emotional or opinionated ones. By emotional I mean the negative emotions such as fear, anger and greed.

    It seems that opinions are the cause of much illogic. People do not ever want to have their opinion shown to be wrong. Most people identify with their opinion as part of themselves and attacking the opinion is attacking them. Unfortunately this is also the belief system of those making the attack. This leads to a vicious circle that can not be broken.

    I would like to say that courses in logic in high school should be a requirement, but that is idealistic thinking. Most students wouldn’t get it and revert to opinions and ego gratification.

    The older I get, the more sense Plato makes in defining the state as being run by the Guardians; those persons who have since childhood shown the virtues needed to make sound decisions. Let the people have their opinions, but the Guardians will make the decisions. This begs the question: Who watches the Guardians? This gets into some pretty heavy political philosophy so I will leave it at that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. A sad and tragic case. Two men dead, another wounded, and one who has to live with having killed two people, even if it was in self-defense.

      There’s nothing to be celebrated here.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. There are a couple of skills that are helpful in reducing conclusion based thinking. I have written up material on this that is being used for a couple of courses but those are not publicly available. I did create a summary and put it on my blog. In the post I referred to conclusion based thinking as rumination and observation based thinking as contemplation. The post is a little dated and I have changed the vocabulary at bit but I think this may be helpful.

      Contemplation vs Rumination – Overview

      A follow up post on discernment vs judgment applied these ideas to relationship and social issues and is probably relevant.

      Discerning not Judging

      Our physiology has a strong influence on which type of thinking we can perform. High levels of sympathetic activation that is not balanced by other autonomic processes, largely parasympathetic in nature tend to get us stuck in conclusion based thinking. Taking a deep breath and calming ourselves can help us broaden our attention and start exploring and describing which are core processes of contemplation (observation based thinking).

      Liked by 1 person

  11. As I talk to more people and read more articles, it becomes clearer to me that these points should be made:

    1. Kyle should not be made into a vigilante hero.
    2. Kyle should not be made into a white terrorist monster.
    3. Kyle should not be made to pay for the sins of a white-male-dominated justice system that historically has inflicted injustices on Blacks, other peoples of color, women, and so on.

    I see arguments that begin: If Kyle had been Black … and then it’s fill-in-the-blank. Black Kyle would have been arrested. The police would have shot him. He’d have been found guilty. And so on.

    Perhaps so, but Kyle is simply Kyle. Focus on the young man before you and the evidence.

    We know our justice system needs major reforms. People should be angry about injustices visited upon the marginalized and the vulnerable. Yet those who argue that Kyle “got away with murder” simply because he was white and male are saying in essence that he was guilty despite the evidence and the verdict, which to me is just another form of injustice. Injustice does not balance injustice.

    The way to reform our system is to ensure Black Kyle is treated the same as white Kyle. It begins with a society dedicated to fairness and decency and justice for all. We’re a long way from that, but perpetrating injustice against Kyle gets us further from the goal, not closer.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Justice has been served blind as she may be… As my dad used to say “want to get in a fight– go to a Peace Protest/ Rally, but I digress. Tragic all the way. Opinions as that part of the anatomy we all have usually stink!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m not sure what to say about this article: white reasoning? https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/nov/19/kyle-rittenhouse-conviction-america-white-privilege

    The article concludes this way: “The Rittenhouse verdict is proof that it is reasonable to believe that the fear of Black people can absolve a white person of any crime.”

    But Rittenhouse shot three white men who by the video evidence either attacked him or pointed a gun at him.

    This article, like others I’ve seen, also says the jury was entirely white when it wasn’t.

    So, is this article claiming Rittenhouse shot three white men who were in his grill because he feared Blacks? And then was absolved by an all-white jury that wasn’t?


  14. With respect to an earlier commentator , the histories of the victims is irrelevant, Rittenhouse had no idea of their backgrounds.

    As someone who lived in Belfast through most of the Troubles the idea that any random civilian (on either side of a protest) could turn up with an assault rifle (and, yes, an AR-15 is an assault rifle for all practical purposes) and the police just go ‘whatever, dude’ just beggers belief. Also, if the third guy had shot Rittenhouse first, in self defence, do you really think the cops would have treated him the same – based on how cops were reacting to BLM protesters of any colour I doubt it.

    As W. J. Astore intimates, public carry of weapons and loose self defence laws do not bode well for peaceful protest in America and, unlike in Europe, when your protests get out of hand and the scene is awash with self righteous vigilantes armed with automatic rifles you are looking at the potential for a bloodbath.

    Consider this:

    One of the most notorious incidents of the Troubles was Bloody Sunday in Derry where British soldiers shot 13 protesters in a matter of minutes and their rifle, the SLR, was a semi-automatic version of the FN-FAL, so this was with aimed, semi-automatic, fire, not letting rip with Hollywood bursts in full-auto. The varous private militias that turn up to oppose BLM and other marches carry semi-automatic rifles with combat optics and plate carriers replete with Magpul 30 round magazines and are glad handed by the local cops.

    Please, do not tell me this is a sign of a healthy political society.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes. I’ve said it before at this site: No one, but no one, has a need to carry a military-style assault rifle. Even the police should rarely carry them.

      They are designed for war — to kill many people rapidly. How they came to be accepted as legal and desirable in America is a sad story of profit-making at the cost of life-taking.

      Tragically, we will see more deaths because America is awash in these weapons.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Thanks for making the comment on past behaviors. I’m glad historical misadventures aren’t targets for open season AR-15 Justice. I too, depending on the jurist ,could or should be 6 feet out of sight. I’ve been inside of the penal system teaching those who are intent on creating course corrections for their future experience. Not everyone with a
      “past” is still actively living out that “past” in the present. So many of the incarcerated have learned to stand upright and live strong….I have probably corrected more faults than most; so I know there’s plenty of hope!


  15. given we have no clue who parented or provided cynosure-ship for kyle rittenhouse, a simple but controversial solution, from this ‘homo sapiens sapiens’ pyrronhist suffering from the laze-factor and who feels dysphoric over her species’ antagonisms against kin and their other consociate life forms IS: sterilize every birthling at the moment s/he emerges from her/his mother’s cervical canal.

    however, understanding how arrantly our species suffers from arrogance, a sense of entitlement, and outré hubris, philoprogenitive mums will find a work-around and birth their bairns in caves or on remote islands, not in hospitals. their progeny will then proceed to pollute and decimate their ambits w/ their own pullulations [breeding].

    i apologize to the equipollent spirits that i myself am guilty of pullulating our beleaguered planet w/ 7 of our species. despite all 7’s being perfervid environmentalists, in both their professions and personal lives, it is not enough. the conservationist, anti-war, anti-capitalist, socialist, peacenik, animal-rights advocacy zeitgeist is wailing its schieivermai into the scattering winds that whimper across our shores toward silence, defeasance, and dystopic desuetude.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Back in the mid-1990’s I joined a group (Lefty Type) that conducted Peaceful Marches, Demonstrations and Petitioned the Local and State Governments. We had all sorts, most wanted to work with the system. There were some that were more aggressive and some were delusional (FBI and various police type forces were tailing them and tapping phones, etc. Sometimes we encountered people who were convinced we were Communists or some grim threat to America.

    What was missing at that time, were the firearms. Today we have the Rambo Types and others with firearms, who think they are some form of justice enforcers. The police are overwhelmed with a plethora of open carry laws.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. I think the media, and some bloggers, like to say this is polarizing. That’s a technique. We, who love our country and freedom know what’s what. That’s it.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I am sorry WJ, but my personal opinion is that you have misread this one.
    I do agree that KR probably should not have been convicted of First Degree Murder. I doubt he went to Kenosha intending to kill someone. I blame the prosecution for bringing charges that were too high a bar, and probably justifiably so. That said, my quibble with your position is that Kyle was not guilty due to self defense, and it wasn’t a race charged verdict.
    He approached the rioters with an AR 15. I would argue that the rioters who chased him were acting in self defense. Why is it that only people who have implicit support of the police are entitled to ‘stand their ground’? The moment he took a threatening position against anyone should cancel any claim of self defense.
    The second point I wish to mention is there is strong circumstantial evidence that he was treated with kid gloves that night and all through the process partly because he was white, but mainly because he was seen as being against blacks, black lives matter, antifa, and generally a bulwark against chaos. Hence lethal violence is acceptable (with the usual regrets stated afterwards).
    The only example I have of the tables being reversed is in Oregon last year where an alleged violent right winger got killed in an altercation with an alleged antifa person. A few days later the antifa man was shot dead by a US Marshall. He was unarmed. His killing had been called for by the President of the United States. I have yet to read of any investigation. On the surface it has the appearance of an execution. Acceptable because he was on the ‘wrong side’.
    So yes, I believe that Rittenhouse was treated different because he was attacking the group perceived as ‘pro-black’. The violence was perceived as ‘black violence’. The race of the 3 men actually shot was a subset of the perceptions. They were not defending white people or white property. They were defending Blacks and rioters. Their lives by default didn’t matter as much.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Don’t know if Rittenhouse went to Kenosha specifically intending to kill someone, but his taking an assault rifle into a violent, unstable situation certainly indicates that he didn’t discount the possibility. He set up circumstances under which he very well might use his gun, and when he was confronted, did indeed shoot people. A self-defense claim, then, to me, simply doesn’t hold water. Not to mention the fact that, two months prior to his trip to Kenosha, he’d posted video of people looting a CVS, and commented he wished he’d been there with his gun.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. your edges may have been ‘worn smooth’ by life-shaping experiences, but your polemics, wornsmooth, are scalpel-carved incisions that have prickled many wja readers’ neuronal networks. thank you for your argute contentions and well-reasoned insights… which is precisely what wja’s article endeavoured to engender, no matter how perfervidly argued the disputations. our being able to “disagree w/out being disagreeable” is the most efficacious path through the rocky rubble and exposed roots toward civilized behaviour and potential concinnity.

      one would not find it supervenient, should it be made public, that 18-year old kyle was bullied throughout childhood and adolescence… or was ego-diminished by his parents, guardians, or teachers. the psychological damage can be redoubtable, nay devastating, if not redressed w/ precipitate interventions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t mean it to come across as a strident polemic. Hopefully it wasn’t taken as more than an ‘agreeable difference of conclusions’.
        By the way, you did get me to look up argute. Thank you.


        1. i expressed myself inadequately, wornsmooth; never did i intend to suggest a soupçon of “strident polemics” from your comment. my communication skills are in need of redress. in fact, mine are nakedly UNskilled communication attempts, as is the case w/ most sesquipedalian chunter-ers like myself. hemingway would be appalled, if not scandalized, by all the lexical detritus i scatter to the zephyrs.


  19. We can disagree without being disagreeable. Can’t we?

    Kudos, Mr. Astore, for raising the most important issue of all: Civilized discussion is essential to American Democracy.

    A quick review of feedback for this article shows that out of 41 comments to date, only 3 folks (~7%) actually addressed your excellent core question (well said Katie, JPA, and WJScott2).

    JPA’s thoughts on conclusion-based thinking are really good. I wonder if the % of folks that practice observation-based thinking (vs. the former) is close to the same % of folks that actually responded to your core question.

    Most of your audience just tried to extend their own narrative, essentially saying: “I choose not to have discourse on the importance of civilized discourse. Instead, hear my opinion on Rittenhouse.” Res Ipsa Loquitur.
    I posit that if you put the same question to a more “conservative” audience, you would have had far more than a 7% response rate to your core question. That reflects a fundamental difference in values.

    Until we have alignment on fundamental values, we can’t and won’t disagree without being disagreeable. Tolerance and respect are some of those values.

    Submitted respectfully (with no intent to be disagreeable).

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Absolutely wrong on every count. Every citizen has a constitutional right, and it’s also necessary that people are able to protect themselves. There are people, everywhere, with concealed carry weapons, and in many states, open carry, and many carry for both protection and sports, not to mention it’s just plain our right.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Dear All,

    I would like to add that Rittenhouse is likely to face further trials at the civil and/or federal courts. In any case, the bar of proving a defendant guilty beyond any reasonable doubt is very high in the criminal court, as opposed to that in the civil court. Furthermore, once the defence team was successful in limiting or focussing the case to one of self-defence, it was destined to be very difficult for the prosecution team, who could no longer bring many other matters into consideration. In addition, Caucasians have a much better advantage and are much more likely to receive positive outcomes whereas non-Caucasians or people of colour have been statistically far more likely to be convicted and also sentenced far more heavily.

    Yours sincerely,

    Liked by 2 people

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