Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal is an indictment of all the media sources that maliciously distorted and obfuscated the truth—and they are legion. But the jury’s decision only finalizes the legal process; it’s a mere way point in a battle of cultural narratives that will continue with increasing fury.
If you followed the mainstream media’s reporting of the Kenosha shootings, you might have gotten the impression that a 17 year-old, trigger-happy white supremacist was driven across state lines by his mother, carrying an illegally owned AR-15. He went to a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in a community he had no connection with, looking for trouble, and wantonly “unloaded” 60 rounds, murdering two innocent people and wounding a third.
Virtually all of that is a blatant fabrication.
Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother didn’t drive him to Kenosha, he was already there. He was employed as a lifeguard in Kenosha, and his father lived there, as did his best friend; he had many connections to the community. The gun was never transported across state lines; since its purchase, until that night, it had been stored in a gun safe inaccessible to Rittenhouse. Although initially it appeared his age would have made his possession of the gun illegal, that misdemeanor charge was dropped; it was technically legal. The events did not occur during a peaceful protest, but rather during riots that had been ongoing for three nights. There was no evidence that Rittenhouse was a white supremacist, nor that he intended to murder anyone. And, no, he didn’t fire 60 rounds. The number was 8.
In addition to the outright falsehoods there was also deception by omission. The individuals who were killed and injured had all initiated attacks against Rittenhouse prior to being shot. That’s a critical detail that many stories left out. They were white, not black as some people assumed. They all had criminal records, some quite serious. At least two had been engaged in criminal activity prior to the shootings. One was armed.
Moreover, most of those facts and factual omissions were readily apparent and easily verified in the immediate aftermath of the shootings. There were multiple videos from different angles, there were eyewitness accounts; and after the police investigation, there was even the prosecutor’s initial charging statement which paradoxically included details that would justify a claim of self-defense.
People who bothered to look at the evidence, read the relevant Wisconsin laws and reason for themselves knew from the start that the media were engaging in a disinformation campaign. There is no other way to describe it. An error this egregious and this pervasive cannot be ascribed to collective incompetence.
But while the media is responsible for having deliberately misinformed the nation about what happened in Kenosha, that doesn’t excuse the individuals who fell for it. Despite the widespread availability of multiple first person accounts and video evidence, many on the left obediently swallowed everything the media fed them, instead of evaluating the evidence themselves.
Every individual who propagated misinformation is partly responsible. If you were one of them, shame on you.
Here’s a particularly flagrant example from The Intercept. How many people actually believed this “correct narrative”? Let’s be clear, this is not an article that seeks to inform the reader. Quite the opposite.
... the armed, pro-Trump fanatic who traveled across state lines during last year’s Black liberation uprisings and shot dead two anti-racist protesters.
The correct narrative is one of state-sanctioned white supremacist vigilantism at a time of powerful Black uprisings. The story that threatens to win the day, however, turns this white backlash into a heroic force.
— Natasha Lennard, The Intercept
The disinformation wasn’t confined to the media. Many politicians climbed on the disinformation bandwagon. Here’s a Twitter post from Rep. Ayanna Pressley just after the shootings.
Even candidate Joe Biden suggested, again without evidence, that Rittenhouse was a white supremacist.
Not that Rittenhouse was a hero, as trumpeted in the right’s propaganda. He was more of a naive, well-intentioned kid who made some bad decisions and got in over his head.
In contrast to the distortions introduced by the media, and amplified on Twitter and Facebook, the judicial system has a formal process for determining the truth. Just as Trump’s fantasy of a stolen election was eventually terminated by its string of over 60 losses in court, the fantasy that Rittenhouse was a racist “active shooter” was always headed for a reckoning with reality.
And yet, do true believers ever abandon their cause? The Rittenhouse acquittal isn’t going to be a sobering moment of reflection on the dangers of propaganda. They are already finding ways of justifying their false narrative. The judge was biased, they say, the jurors were racist. And they will claim it is simply more proof that the judicial system is shot through with systemic racism...
Well, that didn’t take long:
The instructions the judge read to the jury included the admonishment to weigh the evidence in light of what a “reasonable person” would do under the circumstances. All twelve jurors, having weighed the evidence, agreed that it was reasonable for Rittenhouse to defend himself with lethal force.
The legal right of self-defense has a history stretching back to 50 B.C., but more than that, it is a natural right rooted in the instinctual urge for self-preservation found in every living organism. We all carry that instinct within us.
I’m not quite sure what to say at this point, since so many people are still in raptures of outrage over the media fantasy they’ve mistaken for reality. Though I hope no one reading this ever finds themselves in a situation where they are forced to make that kind of a decision, I fervently hope that all would have the wherewithal to defend themselves by pulling the trigger. I want to believe that the people around me are reasonable, because, frankly, the alternative is rather frightening.