How (Not) to Respond to a Celebrated Trial Verdict

 

Call me an outlier, but I’m not one of those cheering or condemning the verdict from the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

That’s because judicial trials, especially jury trials, are not political campaigns. Or, they shouldn’t be. We should only cheer for justice based on the preponderance of evidence courtesy of a jury of peers fairly selected and a trial well-administered by a seasoned judge.

We honor, trust, and respect, not celebrate or condemn, the verdict. Either way. That’s the way it is supposed to work. Whether we may agree or not.

But it doesn’t anymore, especially in the cesspool of social media and the swamps of mainstream media. Where all things are political. Today’s celebrated trials are no different from football games, where we show up in our jerseys, seating ourselves on the right side of the field, and cheering for our team to win while trashing the referees and challenging the outcomes. We are beginning to resemble the fall of the Roman Empire.

That’s not how the legal system is supposed to work – you know, “justice”. Yet how many of you – us – were cheering for a specific verdict based on the narratives we’d bought into? What happened with waiting for the system to actually, you know, work?

The Rittenhouse trial is tragic on so many levels. A young man – a teenager – without a father at home will never be allowed to have an everyday life. He will be forever known as, well, Kyle Rittenhouse of Kenosha fame, or infamy, depending on your predetermined political biases.

Two men, both without fathers and with criminal records – one a convicted pedophile – are dead. Another young man, also possibly sans a father and a lengthy rap sheet, was seriously wounded.

Spot a trend here? Maybe that’s where our focus should be.

A presidential candidate, Joe Biden, and scores of media personalities smeared and possibly defamed a teenager as a “white supremacist.” And worse, without a shred of evidence. But it was politically convenient. We do have anti-defamation laws, but they are hard if not impossible to prosecute, especially for a teenager against powerful, entrenched politicians. But Kyle does have precedent, courtesy of Nicholas Sandmann. Do I need to remind you of his story? The Washington Post and others settled a defamation suit out of court. Sandmann is financially set for life as a result.

And Kyle Rittenhouse, in fairness, probably has a stronger case against both media outlets (looking at you, Joy Reid) and even presidential candidate now sitting in the White House. Lawyer up, dudes, because he might have a case.

Call me old-fashioned and naive, but what happened to respect for our institutions and especially our system of justice? They’re not perfect, of course, but at least our third branch of government mostly still works. Under duress.

Those who smeared Rittenhouse as a “white supremacist” or a “vigilante” were clearly proven wrong if not malicious during the trial. Just as with George Zimmerman (Trayvon Martin) and so many others who were falsely accused and even deemed guilty in social media when it was convenient for political purposes. And that was the point, wasn’t it? The narrative rules, no matter how wrong it obviously was.

The Rittenhouse trial and verdict prove that our system of justice still works, if tenuously. The prosecutors brought their case. The evidence was presented, if inartfully and incompetently. The judge presided cautiously and prudently, if not colorfully. And the carefully-sequestered jury decided after nearly three days of careful deliberation. Apparent efforts to intimidate the jury were not successful. Thank God.

The verdict was unanimous. We should respect and accept it, and move on. Forget “Build Back Better.” Give me, “Bring Back America.” And give Kyle and everyone else a chance to rebuild their shattered lives.

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There are 23 comments.

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  1. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    I appreciate the point you’re making, Kelly. At the same time, I will defend celebration in light of this jury decision. For those of us who were convinced by the available evidence that Mr. Rittenhouse acted in legitimate self-defense and was grotesquely misrepresented by a corrupt press, his conviction would have prompted us to believe that justice was being subverted for political reasons. Prevailing in court was a victory worth celebrating — not just for Mr. Rittenhouse, but for due process itself.

    • #1
  2. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    That’s not how the legal system is supposed to work – you know, “justice”. Yet how many of you – us – were cheering for a specific verdict based on the narratives we’d bought into?

    The cheering isn’t for the verdict, it’s for Justice having prevailed against a biased system; against a media that lied about every single of the case, prevailed against the demands of the crazed mob, prevailed against all the forces darkness could muster.

    Victories are rare for the forces of light these days; so, yeah, when we get one, we celebrate.

    • #2
  3. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    That’s not how the legal system is supposed to work – you know, “justice”. Yet how many of you – us – were cheering for a specific verdict based on the narratives we’d bought into?

    The cheering isn’t for the verdict, it’s for Justice having prevailed against a biased system; against a media that lied about every single of the case, prevailed against the demands of the crazed mob, prevailed against all the forces darkness could muster.

    Victories are rare for the forces of light these days; so, yeah, when we get one, we celebrate.

    When Rittenhouse collapsed after the fifth verdict was read, was that for justice, or for the getting his life partially back?  I am glad that the court system worked in this case, but I’m more glad that for Rittenhouse justice was partially restored.  :)

    • #3
  4. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    Your “he might have a case” link keeps going to “install app” scams. 

    • #4
  5. Kevin Schulte Member
    Kevin Schulte
    @KevinSchulte

    Sorry.

    We live in a time when injustice is the order of the day decade. When justice on a political charge occurs in a long list of injustices completely weighted to one side of the isle . celebration is appropriate. If the mob would have won in this case , despair would have been appropriate too. 

    Our liberties are at stake for God’s sake. 

    • #5
  6. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Kelly D Johnston:

    That’s because judicial trials, especially jury trials, are not political campaigns. Or, they shouldn’t be. We should only cheer for justice based on the preponderance of evidence courtesy of a jury of peers fairly selected and a trial well-administered by a seasoned judge.

    We honor, trust, and respect, not celebrate or condemn, the verdict. Either way. That’s the way it is supposed to work. Whether we may agree or not.

    Who are you?  Scrolling past.

    • #6
  7. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    We are beginning to resemble the fall of the Roman Empire.

    Yes and no and maybe and nah,  and all the other words. That said, Roman trials were dodgy long before the fall, with lots of theatrics and corruption. 

    As for the other point, trials have been political events for a very long time in our Republic. 

    • #7
  8. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    We are beginning to resemble the fall of the Roman Empire.

    Yes and no and maybe and nah, and all the other words. That said, Roman trials were dodgy long before the fall, with lots of theatrics and corruption.

    As for the other point, trials have been political events for a very long time in our Republic.

    Some trials, definitely.  But it’s been getting more and more prevalent.

    • #8
  9. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    Roman trials were dodgy long before the fall, with lots of theatrics and corruption. 

    That is a good description of the prosecution of this trial.

    • #9
  10. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    Roman trials were dodgy long before the fall, with lots of theatrics and corruption.

    That is a good description of the prosecution of this trial.

    In Roman times, the accused would often show up in rags, looking depressed, presenting a pitiful sight to work the jury’s sympathy. The jurors dropped guilty / not-guilty tokens into a vase, but a canny court official could palm the proper tokens when announcing the verdict. Better sometimes to have a superior orator on your side than the facts – but too bad for you if a Cicero came along and blew your lawyer out of the courtroom with a new style of oratory that made your lawyer look like a bloviating theatrical Greek!

    (That said, Verres was guilty, and Hortensius was probably past his prime.)

    • #10
  11. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Kelly D Johnston: a jury of peers fairly selected

    This was key.  They could have easily said, “We don’t want to see Kenosha burn, so let’s throw this guy to the wolves and go home.”

    They didn’t, and that takes guts . . .

    • #11
  12. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    That’s not how the legal system is supposed to work – you know, “justice”. Yet how many of you – us – were cheering for a specific verdict based on the narratives we’d bought into?

    The cheering isn’t for the verdict, it’s for Justice having prevailed against a biased system; against a media that lied about every single of the case, prevailed against the demands of the crazed mob, prevailed against all the forces darkness could muster.

    Victories are rare for the forces of light these days; so, yeah, when we get one, we celebrate.

    I feel less celebration than overwhelming relief.

    • #12
  13. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Kelly D Johnston:

    We honor, trust, and respect, not celebrate or condemn, the verdict. Either way. That’s the way it is supposed to work. Whether we may agree or not.

    But it doesn’t anymore, especially in the cesspool of social media and the swamps of mainstream media. Where all things are political. Today’s celebrated trials are no different from football games, where we show up in our jerseys, seating ourselves on the right side of the field, and cheering for our team to win while trashing the referees and challenging the outcomes. We are beginning to resemble the fall of the Roman Empire.

    I too am uneasy with criminal justice as theater and normally would join you in bemoaning the fall of Western Civilization.  But trials and executions have always attracted morbid attention, as far as I know.  I believe hangings used to be a spectator sport-we only need to go back 100 or so years, not 2000.  But, just like in our frontier times, if the law isn’t there to maintain order, others will step in.   To me, that was the precipitating factor.  https://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/06/weekinreview/the-last-hanging-there-was-a-reason-they-outlawed-public.html

     

    • #13
  14. ToryWarWriter Reagan
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    I applaud the poster for making his primary point about the absence of fathers in childrens lives leading to bad results.

    • #14
  15. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):

    I applaud the poster for making his primary point about the absence of fathers in childrens lives leading to bad results.

    I’m always glad to see this point brought up, as the Left’s war against fatherhood and the nuclear family in general is the most pernicious part of their program. The push for universal government Pre-K in the disgusting BBB bill is a big part of that.

    • #15
  16. Kelly D Johnston Coolidge
    Kelly D Johnston
    @SoupGuy

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I appreciate the point you’re making, Kelly. At the same time, I will defend celebration in light of this jury decision. For those of us who were convinced by the available evidence that Mr. Rittenhouse acted in legitimate self-defense and was grotesquely misrepresented by a corrupt press, his conviction would have prompted us to believe that justice was being subverted for political reasons. Prevailing in court was a victory worth celebrating — not just for Mr. Rittenhouse, but for due process itself.

    I think that is fair. I was very concerned about erosion of the right of self-defense. I was also appalled over attempts to expose and intimidate the jury.

    • #16
  17. Nathanael Ferguson Contributor
    Nathanael Ferguson
    @NathanaelFerguson

    We cheered because Justice prevailed. We cheered because we thought there was a good chance the jury could be intimidated into convicting an obviously innocent young man, and we were deeply relieved when they stood up to the threats and intimidation by handing down a correct verdict based on the law and the facts of the case. We cheered because a young man who was being railroaded by a corrupt and malicious prosecutor won his freedom despite their best efforts to manipulate the jury to lock him up. We cheered because the entire unholy leftwing alliance of big government, big media, and big tech had it out for Kyle Rittenhouse regardless of the facts and the law, and Rittenhouse won anyway. We cheered for Justice and we cheered for Kyle. We will keep cheering for a long time. And we won’t apologize for it. 

    • #17
  18. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):

    I applaud the poster for making his primary point about the absence of fathers in childrens lives leading to bad results.

    The boy’s parents were divorced.  The father was not absent.  He lived/lives in Kenosha.  Kyle worked as a lifeguard in Kenosha, which is at most 20 miles from where mom lives.  He spent time with both parents.  I’m not privy to the family dynamic, but I’d say that despite his parents divorce he has turned out to be a good kid.

    And as for the argument that he had no business being there that night, he had as much right to be there as any other citizen.   However,  he obviously had absolutely no idea the level of evil he would encounter.  He’s a good kid and he and his family have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

    • #18
  19. J Climacus Member
    J Climacus
    @JClimacus

    Kelly D Johnston:

    The Rittenhouse trial is tragic on so many levels. A young man – a teenager – without a father at home will never be allowed to have an everyday life. He will be forever known as, well, Kyle Rittenhouse of Kenosha fame, or infamy, depending on your predetermined political biases.

    Two men, both without fathers and with criminal records – one a convicted pedophile – are dead. Another young man, also possibly sans a father and a lengthy rap sheet, was seriously wounded.

    This is the larger and, to my mind, more important story. So much of what is going on now is due to simple lack of adult supervision and male role-modeling. Young men without fathers are prone to expressing their masculinity in all the wrongs ways; some in criminal gangs, others in violent political movements like Antifa, many just can’t resist the opportunity to engage in mayhem when the opportunity arises.

    The best of them try to do it positively, and Kyle Rittenhouse falls in this category. He was doing good that day cleaning graffiti, and trying to good that night with his AR-15. That doesn’t mean going out there with a rifle was a wise thing for a high schooler to do. The first reaction both my father and I had on seeing the Rittenhouse videos last year was: What is a 17 year old doing out on the streets with an AR-15 in a riot? Specifically, what father is going to let his high school kid out on the street with an AR-15, under any circumstances? Of course, as it turns out, there wasn’t a father, or a mother, involved in the decision. 

    Kyle Rittenhouse is a good kid, but good 17 year olds still are immature and often show poor judgment. Would any of this be happening if, say, 80% of boys were raised in intact families with fathers? It’s just going to get worse until that changes. 

     

    • #19
  20. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen
    @BrianClendinen

    Sorry but you are just naive. Major Trials have and will always have a political component to them. How to due you think John Adams came to be well known. Patice Henery? A trial of course.

    There has been a long history of the politicization of trials and there always will be its human nature. You just have a utopian viewpoint.

    So our judicial system is breaking down and that will not change until Republicans stop lying grow a par and start to viciously go after sovereign immunity.

    So the Captial Riot Shaman gets 41 months (the guy the police let in). The same day Kyle get off, a none violent silly man making a political point gets his life ruined.

    Plus if it were not for all the publicity this might of turned out very different because Kyle could not afford anything but a public defender. Only if voters and Republican Lawmakers take a lesson on this and start to make laws and check on proctored misconduct (maybe like making withholding evidence a felony that the victim can prosecute).

    However, I doubt that will happen. Because it is the stupid party after all who just talks smack and does not due squat when it comes to aggressively protecting natural rights.

    • #20
  21. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Nathanael Ferguson (View Comment):

    We cheered because Justice prevailed. We cheered because we thought there was a good chance the jury could be intimidated into convicting an obviously innocent young man, and we were deeply relieved when they stood up to the threats and intimidation by handing down a correct verdict based on the law and the facts of the case. We cheered because a young man who was being railroaded by a corrupt and malicious prosecutor won his freedom despite their best efforts to manipulate the jury to lock him up. We cheered because the entire unholy leftwing alliance of big government, big media, and big tech had it out for Kyle Rittenhouse regardless of the facts and the law, and Rittenhouse won anyway. We cheered for Justice and we cheered for Kyle. We will keep cheering for a long time. And we won’t apologize for it.

    Clearly, you don’t know how to respond right.  :)

    • #21
  22. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Brian Clendinen (View Comment):

    Sorry but you are just naive. Major Trials have and will always have a political component to them. How to due you think John Adams came to be well known. Patice Henery? A trial of course.

    There has been a long history of the politicization of trials and there always will be its human nature. You just have a utopian viewpoint.

    So our judicial system is breaking down and that will not change until Republicans stop lying grow a par and start to viciously go after sovereign immunity.

    So the Captial Riot Shaman gets 41 months (the guy the police let in). The same day Kyle get off, a none violent silly man making a political point gets his life ruined.

    Plus if it were not for all the publicity this might of turned out very different because Kyle could not afford anything but a public defender. Only if voters and Republican Lawmakers take a lesson on this and start to make laws and check on proctored misconduct (maybe like making withholding evidence a felony that the victim can prosecute).

    However, I doubt that will happen. Because it is the stupid party after all who just talks smack and does not due squat when it comes to aggressively protecting natural rights.

    Well under 1% of trials in the U.S. have any political significance at all.  It is easy to get overwhelmed into thinking that everything is just like the tiny minority of cases that get publicized by our 24-hour media and Internet.

    • #22
  23. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    Brian Clendinen (View Comment):
    Sorry but you are just naive. Major Trials have and will always have a political component to them. How to due you think John Adams came to be well known. Patice Henery? A trial of course.

    Well, and then there’s Jesus.

    • #23
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