Saturday, November 20, 2021

Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted, and lots of people are very unhappy

You've probably seen Kyle Rittenhouse, the baby-faced teenaged killer of two white protesters in the wake of the police shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin during America's extended period of racial unrest last year. You've probably seen him in tears, scared for his life and liberty, and desperately ruing some of his life decisions.

Well, Kyle Rittenhouse was just acquitted of all counts (intentional homicide, attempted homicide, recklessly endangering safety), and lots of people are not happy (including Joe Biden, although at least he distanced himself from his predecessor by standing by the jury's decision). If Mr. Rittenhouse's victims has been black, which they very well could have been in the circumstances, the whole country would now be riven by angry, potentially violent demonstration and riots.

Rittenhouse had been portrayed by the prosecution as a reckless vigilante who shot some innocent men who were trying to disarm an "active shooter"; the defence portrayed him as a civic-minded young man who had travelled from his home to try and help quell the race riots, a patriot taking a stand against lawlessness, and who only shot in self-defence. Improbably, the defence's version of events prevailed. 

Rittenhouse's attorney commented after the trial that, "He did not start this", despite the fact that he had taken the initiative in going there in the first place, toting his oversized semi-automatic gun; relatives of one of the slain men retorted, "It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street".

Which makes more sense to you?

Hopefully. at the very least, the trial outcome might trigger a serious review of some states' self-defence laws, and America's tradition of politicized elected judges. And would it be too much to expect a review of America's gun laws and their obscure loopholes? What's a 17-year old doing running around with a big-ass gun like that anyway, or ANY gun for that matter?

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