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CSotD: Our Way of Life, Alas

Ann Telnaes offers a good reflection on what we may have just seen happen.

I hadn’t expected either a full conviction on all charges or a full exoneration, so I’m a little gobsmacked at the moment, but I think the Rittenhouse verdict falls in somewhere among the acquittals of OJ Simpson on charges of murdering his ex and her friend and that of George Zimmerman on charges of killing Tayvon Martin.

It’s not a runaway jury like the one that deliberately ignored evidence of OJ’s guilt, but Rittenhouse didn’t have a firm stand-your-ground law to shelter behind, either.

OJ’s jury was less subtle in their refusal to convict, though I highly doubt anyone in that jury room said “I don’t care if he did it or not.”

But, in both cases, it’s hard not to feel they were responding to their own emotional take rather than the actual evidence in the case.

So people are correct, I think, to say that, if a BLM sympathizer had shot three people at a supremacist rally, there would have been a conviction. But, again, it wouldn’t involve people saying, “I don’t care if he did it.”

They’d simply view the evidence through the lens of their experience and their unconscious prejudices and vote in favor of preserving their way of life, without realizing they’d done so.

Our justice system misfunctions every day, though it’s more apt to fill the jails with people who shouldn’t be there than to fill the streets with people who belong in jail.

I was on a jury in a case of assault with a deadly weapon, and we voted for acquittal on the first ballot, but there were times during the trial when, hearing testimony and seeing evidence, I thought we might have to convict based on the law rather than view it as self-defense.

A month later, when the ban on contact had expired, I called the public defender, an old-school storefront fighter who had mounted a brilliant defense.

He said a lot of such cases are plea-bargained into lesser charges despite the defendant being innocent: He takes a lesser charge because he doesn’t have the resources to mount a full defense and take his chances, the police and DA having assured him he will be convicted.

These people never face a jury because they’ve been intimidated and under-represented.

No such problem in this case. Rittenhouse had nearly half a million dollars for his defense.

 

Greg Kearney builds on Telnaes’s point, because the issue isn’t about Kyle Rittenhouse himself so much as it is about that wider message, expressed by Telnaes in blood-stained picket signs but stated directly by Kearney.

America has always had an us-against-them element, but it’s at a fever pitch at the moment, and preserving “our” way of life is coming down to shutting down troublemakers at any cost.

This isn’t “Bloody Kansas” yet. We don’t have midnight massacres and righteous reprisals happening yet.

But, as Kearney suggests, we’ve certainly laid them on the table with this verdict, which goes far beyond little Kyle Rittenhouse and his adolescent yearnings.

One message being sent is an answer to that question someone asked Charlie Kirk, “When do we get to use the guns?” Kirk tried to divert the matter, but it has spawned a thousand op-eds and the fact is, when you stir people up, they ask things like that.

When you say “Blue Lives Matter” but make an exception for Capitol Police, and defend an attempted coup, you’re whipping up a Bloody Kansas mood in the country.

Not only does it encourage vigilantes, as Kearney says, but it discourages “regular people” from coming to the streets to protest peacefully.

But, hey, that’s our way of life.

 

As for “trusting the system,” Steve Sack points out the folly of rejoicing over the fact that the Justice Department has charged Steve Bannon for contempt for failing to honor a congressional subpoena.

We cannot tolerate his defiance, and I doubt he’ll be able to take the Fifth on every question. But, then, I also doubt that we’ll see him either in a witness chair or a jail cell for very long. He doesn’t suffer from a lack of defense funds and he isn’t going to be intimidated.

Mind you, I predicted roughly the same thing before Judge John Sirica dropped his gavel on Richard Nixon, and I’d love to be proven wrong again.

I guess we’ll see.

But in the Watergate days, we didn’t have Fox and Newsmax and OAN reinforcing the idea that breaking into the Democratic Headquarters was a patriotic, heroic venture.

(Though Gordon Liddy did become a rightwing folk hero for his courageous defense of our way of life and his refusal to spill his guts to investigators.)

 

Still we have some common values, and Steve Kelley (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) takes Merrick Garland to task, apparently over his having told Congress that people who threaten school board members are not classified as terrorists, even though the FBI is keeping an eye on them in case they step over that line and carry out their threats.

He’s right — it’s easy to become unpopular by pointing out those who do wrong.

Though there are people who not only like liars and bullies but support them.

 

In fact, I know a cartoonist who wrote a book about it. You can buy a signed copy of it here.

 

 

 

 

Community Comments

#1 Name Withheld
November/20/2021
@ 1:32 pm

“So people are correct, I think, to say that, if a BLM sympathizer had shot three people at a supremacist rally, there would have been a conviction.”

In Portland, OR a death by shooting occurred during one of the innumerable protests. The suspect was a white leftie. The authorities put together a posse, tracked him down very quickly in Washington state and shot him dead rather than take him into custody.

The Proud Boys make armed forays into the city regularly, create mayhem (shooting paint balls at pedestrians downtown from their cars and trucks, for instance) and head back across the river to Washington without the slightest reprimand.

Justice is willfully deaf, dumb, and blind. Kenosha is just the latest example.

#2 John Stringer
November/20/2021
@ 6:34 pm

You know, I’ve always wanted to visit the USA, but I never will. Too dangerous.

#3 Greg Olson
November/20/2021
@ 8:50 pm

In Portland, OR Sean Kealiher, a leftist, was killed and the police appear to be uninterested in solving the murder. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-fault-line-dying-for-a-fight/id1531812209#episodeGuid=a91ac674-efb0-4e81-9beb-03090e5b6e7c

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