Kyle Rittenhouse, Judge Bruce Schroeder
An acquittal in the Rittenhouse trial will be a license to kill for MAGA militias across the US. Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0) See complete attribution below.

Here is a controversial opinion: It almost doesn’t matter whether a jury finds Kyle Rittenhouse guilty of killing two protesters and injuring another because the damage has already been done. 

Not just the irreversible damage to his victims (who were not allowed to be called “victims” in the courtroom since that might make the jury less sympathetic toward the young white supremacist who senselessly ended their lives), but the damage to come, as a result of the signal the trial and events surrounding it have already sent to people like the killer.

That message is pretty clear: “If you want to take matters into your own hands and ‘own the libs’ in a more direct way, then the law — as applied by a judicial system tilted in your favor — may let you get away with murder.”

That’s bad enough, but it gets worse. The second lesson is: “There is not only a good chance that you can avoid punishment, but also a virtual certainty that you will be hailed as a hero and showered with attention and money.” 

That is a very alluring message to send to the stereotypical perpetrators of mass shootings: young white males with access to military-style weapons who, for some reason and in spite of their massive privilege, feel aggrieved and compelled to unleash violence onto others. 

In the past, they primarily turned to shooting up schools or the occasional church, movie theater, night club, concert, or Walmart

All of these massacres had a few things in common: The killers were men who were roundly condemned, the victims (who were allowed to be called victims in these cases) got lots of thoughts and prayers, and the perpetrators either were killed by law enforcement, committed suicide, or will spend their lives in prison. If the cases did go to trial, they certainly got no favorable treatment from the legal system.

Nobody was defending the killers. Sure, there might have been the odd wacko who claimed the massacres didn’t happen (looking at you, Alex Jones), but, generally, the reactions ranged from “He was troubled” to “We didn’t see this coming.”

Now let’s compare that to Rittenhouse. Granted, it wasn’t a traditional mass shooting, but he still took it upon himself to bring a gun, which he was not allowed to own, to a volatile situation in order to “protect” businesses from people he previously professed he wanted to shoot

The fact that the video in which he made that statement was not admitted at trial shows another major difference: Rittenhouse seems to be getting some favorable rulings from a judge who has raised eyebrows with his own behavior, such as asking the jury to applaud a defense witness for his military service.

In addition, Rittenhouse didn’t have to await his trial in jail. Instead, he had a legal defense fund that raised at least the $2 million needed for his bail. 

The reason this was possible may be the most crucial difference of all: Instead of having been universally condemned for something that was, at the very least, stupid and irresponsible, Rittenhouse has been celebrated by many on the right  — including Donald Trump — for killing the protesters. 

Whether that is because the protest in question was related to yet another police shooting of a Black man or because there is an increasingly militant wing of the GOP that is itching for a fight (like this guy asking “When do we get to use the guns?”), it certainly appears as though Rittenhouse did the thing that lots of people like him are secretly (or not-so-secretly) fantasizing about: killing the opposition.

We are not just talking about some fringe voices, although, to be fair, most of the GOP has strayed onto the fringe and beyond. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that Rittenhouse even has supporters in Congress.

And, of course, a hero of white supremacists and other Trump supporters will always have an ally in Fox News. Tucker Carlson was quick to defend Rittenhouse even before it was chic to do so, and Sean Hannity just interviewed his mother a couple of days ago. 

So, what do you get when you combine the profile of mass shooters with the royal treatment Rittenhouse has been receiving? An extremely dangerous and troubling mix of violence waiting to happen. 

Because we are not just talking about a couple of mass shooters every year. For every one of them who goes through with it, there are probably hundreds who feel just as aggrieved, hate the “others,” think they are unappreciated, and dream about going out with a bang. 

To all of them, the Rittenhouse experience must seem incredibly tempting — certainly better than shooting up a high school. 

Now they know there is a better option than going out in a blaze of infamy: They can act out their violent fantasies, escape accountability, receive the recognition they crave — and possibly get rich in the process. 


The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Kyle Rittenhouse caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), body 1 (Fibonacci Blue / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), Judge Bruce Schroeder caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), body 2 (US Supreme Court), and courthouse (Kenneth C. Zirkel / Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 4.0).

2.1 65 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

25 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Victorious Yankee
Victorious Yankee
7 days ago

How many times do you think those racist Wisconsin cops would have shot Rittenhouse had he not been a fellow white supremacist?

Victorious Yankee
Victorious Yankee
7 days ago

Wisconsin’s message to liberal tourists everywhere: Stay Out Or We’ll Shoot You With Assault Rifles!

Message Received!

Flying over Wisconsin is better for liberals’ survival.

Victorious Yankee
Victorious Yankee
7 days ago

Hey judge bruce schroeder, white supremacists from coast to coast are hailing you as their newest whitest hero!

Let that sink in !

Victorious Yankee
Victorious Yankee
7 days ago

I know a lot of gun fetishists.
The one thing I know about them is that if they buy a gun (aka their surrogate penises) they never let it out if their possession.
It’s like a security blanket or a woobie for the InCels.
He drove that gun over state lines.
Of course he did.
Only uneducated rural rubes would believe otherwise.

No.
He kept it at his friends house just in case he needed self defense after a ride in a car.

Not all of us are as gullible as racist rural juries I guess.

Victorious Yankee
Victorious Yankee
7 days ago

It’s funny that stupid people think this verdict will divide America.

That boat sailed way back on January 6th boys n’ girls.

The only thing this verdict did was to announce to liberal tourists everywhere to steer clear of Wisconsin.

Message received.

We’ll just keep flying our blue state vacation dollars over your open air shooting gallery.

Boy, you sure showed us.

Score!

Marcus
9 days ago

Its a good thing this article starts off saying its an Opinion piece because the story deviates from WhoWhatWhy’s mission that embodies a form of investigative reporting that is rigorous, relentless, and scientific. Author needs to dig a little further into all those involved. One of the earlier commenters to this story had more facts and evidence than the original story.

Last edited 9 days ago by Marcus
Polly
Polly
10 days ago

Kyle should have laid his gun on the ground (or given it to one of the many onlookers for safekeeping) and fought the three like a man. One on one, just fists and muscle. Then all of his problems now would not have started, the media would not care, and he would not be a white supremacist anymore.

Victorious Yankee
Victorious Yankee
7 days ago
Reply to  Polly

Ha.
Good one.

Without their guns, the rural tough guys break down and whine like Rittenhouse and all those Insurrectionist momma’s boys did in court.

But we liberals got the message loud and clear: Do Not Plan A Vacation To Wisconsin Or We’ll Mow You Down With Machine Guns While Our Wisconsin Police Do Nothing!

Cynde Wall
Cynde Wall
13 days ago

Yep that is how it was looking to me too. I just don’t get why they are so afraid. Real men having nothing to be afraid of.

Jeff davis
Jeff davis
13 days ago

That is just a bunch of crap to compare someone who was being attacked by three people and defended himself to mass murderers. When you attack someone you give up your right to claim to be the victim because you are the one being the aggressor.

Chris Bystroff
Chris Bystroff
13 days ago

He was just a troubled kid who wanted to be a hero. The writer should target the white supremicist and Qanon lawyers who used him for their purposes. The list of uglies now includes Marjorie Three-Names.

Kevin
Kevin
13 days ago

Some long and sleepless nights await you young man…

Tamanela Wainwright
Tamanela Wainwright
13 days ago

I totally agree with this article. This young boy shouldn’t have had a gun to begin with. After he was released from jail he was on social media at a bar bragging about what happened and his release from jail. Look at his age I thought you had to be 21 to get in a bar. If he were black him being under age committing these crimes alone would be a charge and he would have life on top of life for taking someones life.

Dennis Winkler
Dennis Winkler
14 days ago

This is one of the dumbest things that I have read lately.

Kyle
Kyle
13 days ago
Reply to  Dennis Winkler

I’ve read so many of these “articles” lately that do nothing but stoke a fire of division. This fantasy that this case will form a get out of jail card for murderers is insane. This kid shouldn’t have been there, but he acted in self defense and killed 2 attackers and wounded another that pointed a gun. It’s not rocket science…

Reba
Reba
13 days ago
Reply to  Dennis Winkler

But it’s true

Rob
Rob
13 days ago
Reply to  Dennis Winkler

The title alone already summarizes what the article is about, so why did you read it? It’s actually a decent article, unless of course you’re a Trump supporter

M Orndorff
M Orndorff
14 days ago

LOL, this article is a one sided look from some very rose tinted glasses. Let’s not add the facts here.
Each time Rittenhouse shot someone it a reaction to them attacking him.
Rosenbaum, the first one shot, was chasing and lunged at Rittenhouse and grabbed his gun.
The second person hit Rittenhouse in the head with a skateboard and the third one confessed on the stand that he pointed his own gun at Rittenhouse and that’s when he was shot.
Let’s forget the fact that Rittenhouse did not own the AR15 and he is allowed to carry it with adult supervision. Rittenhouse strayed too far and wasn’t allowed to return to the place he was at, so at worse case he’s guilty of a misdemeanor.
Rittenhouse was allowed to defend himself and that’s what he did. There is video evidence everywhere that he did nothing but defend himself.
My response has more facts than this crappy one-sided opinion piece

Kirk
Kirk
14 days ago

See the low article rating?
Maybe because MOST people understand that your title to the article with your commentary is more racist and absurd than what you are attempting to describe in your twisted view of reality.
Thank God we have a Justice system and laws where Real White Supremists and racists like you do not decide the course for our Republic.

Joe Torres
Joe Torres
14 days ago

As soon as the judge played his cell song. I knew Kyle was going to be set free.

Shikyo Kira
Shikyo Kira
12 days ago
Reply to  Joe Torres

Can you elaborate? I don’t understand how is a song equate to Kyle being free. Didn’t the judge say that the jury will decide the case and not the judge?

Timothy Durham
Timothy Durham
14 days ago

They used to hang killers. If he wants to be a vigilante he should accept his punishment.in the end , he took two human lives. His mother drove him there. The entire event was premeditated.

Mimi Joys
Mimi Joys
14 days ago

Whoever wrote this, is a complete lunatic! Rittenhouse was about to be killed, so he defended himself. I guess this writer, if placed in the same circumstance, would have just laid there and allowed the assailants to kill them, without even putting up a struggle, and then expected pay those who attacked him, for compensation of hurting themselves when they crushed in his empty skull with their bare fists.

Henry Bishop
Henry Bishop
14 days ago

The only people he hurt were white, he was attacked repeatedly by several people and was on the ground, in the middle of a violent crowd. There will be more of this to come, this is only the beginning, if you think mob violence and looting is acceptable you will learn what self-defense is from the other side that is being attacked, cuz at the end of the day somebody had to pay for what you broke stole or killed and they pay for it in Blood Sweat and Tears and so much more. You are going to fail as a news company.

Jtorres
Jtorres
14 days ago

If you watched any of the case instead of just reading headlines you would see the prosecutions case is less than flimsy. Shut up about race and white supremacists. That word has lost all meaning. I’m Latino by the way. Before anyone accuses me of being a “RaYciST.”

Subscribe to the Daily WhoWhatWhy

Relevant, in-depth journalism delivered to you.
Name(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.