Just Watch the Tapes

By: Elijah Parish

Take the blue pill, and you don’t leave your echo chamber. You continue to be deceived and think Rittenhouse being found innocent is yet another example of the evils of the American legal system. Take the red pill, and you realize this is one of the most obvious cases of self defense in the history of the inalienable right to self-defense. Luckily for those who are busy with finals, all you have to do to take the red pill is watch a few minutes of footage. Sure, you could be like me and watch hours and hours of court proceedings, but that is quite unnecessary unless you want to understand every little detail. This link will take you to a two minute video of Kyle Rittenhouse shooting Gage Grosskreutz and Anthony Huber. Be warned: the footage is graphic. I’d also recommend watching it at half speed.

For those of you who didn’t watch the footage, allow me to break down what happened. After shooting Joseph Rosenbaum, a crowd began to chase Rittenhouse — this is where the video begins. Rittenhouse falls to the ground. One man (unidentified and known as jump kick man) kicks Rittenhouse then runs away. Huber hits Rittenhouse in the head with a skateboard and grabs the barrel of Rittenhouse’s gun. Rittenhouse then shoots Huber once and Huber falls over. Grosskreutz puts his hands up and then Kyle puts his gun down. Then Grosskreutz grabs his pistol and lunges at Rittenhouse (as Grosskreutz confirmed in cross-examination) before Rittenhouse shoots him in the arm. Rittenhouse then gets up, runs away, and attempts to turn himself into the police.

Perhaps, you say, Rittenhouse was acting in self defense when he shot Huber and Grosskreutz, but maybe they attacked him justifiably after Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum. Over the course of the night, Rosenbaum had threatened to kill Rittenhouse twice. While it has no bearing on Rittenhouse’s self defense, it is worth noting that the morning of the incident, Rosenbaum had been released from a mental health facility after a history of drug use and sexual abuse of children — perhaps these facts can help explain why Rosenbaum repeatedly threatened to murder strangers among other seemingly unreasonable behaviors. (Note: Rosenbaum r*ping children does not justify him being extrajudicially killed, it may, however, help explain his otherwise unintelligible and violent behavior). Rosenbaum begins chasing after Rittenhouse. According to witness testimony, Rosenbaum lunges for Rittenhouse’s gun and Rittenhouse shoots him at the last moment. This link leads to the best available footage of the Rosenbaum shooting.
If the few minutes of footage didn’t convince you that Rittenhouse is innocent, please go watch hours of the trial; go read dozens of legal analyses. All of the evidence supports Rittenhouse, and if you don’t believe me, feel more than welcome to examine the evidence yourself. And if, after examining all available evidence, you still believe Rittenhouse is guilty, then that’s your prerogative. I’d much prefer you to be informed and wrong rather than proudly ignorant.

Usually correct verdicts aren’t a big deal. Incorrect verdicts are signs of wrongdoing and the ones of national concern. But before I get into the importance of this case and its relevance to the post-fact political era, I’d like to debunk a few myths about the case. Unfortunately, There are more myths and lies about Rittenhouse than can fit in one essay, but I’ll pick a few of the most dangerous.

“Rittenhouse is innocent but he shouldn’t have been there that night” is a perfectly reasonable position to hold. In fact, that’s the position Rittenhouse himself holds. But what was Kyle doing there? Kyle has family and a job in Kenosha. He lives with his mom only 20 miles away. He wanted to be either a first responder or a nurse when he grows up. He had some medical training and went to serve as a medic, carrying a first aid kit with him for the night. He was planning to go to college at Arizona State to become a nurse. The people he helped that night were all protestors. Rittenhouse was not a white supremacist vigilante. He wanted to protect his community. He agreed to stand guard to ensure that a local small business owner didn’t have his car dealership burned down.

“Okay, okay, maybe Kyle was acting in self-defense, but didn’t he illegally carry a gun across state lines?” No. The gun was purchased in Wisconsin by Rittenhouse’s friend, Dominic Black, using Rittenhouse’s money. Black agreed to hold onto the gun until Rittenhouse turned 18. Although an 18 year old is not allowed to purchase a gun in Wisconsin, Rittenhouse, as a 17 year old, was allowed to possess long rifles.

The racial narrative surrounding Rittenhouse is kind of strange. He provided medical support to BLM protestors. In an interview Rittenhouse claimed to support the goals of the BLM movement. The people he shot were white. Perhaps, you may argue, that Rittenhouse was only allowed to claim self-defense because he is white, but this doesn’t make much sense considering that 73% of people who shoot someone else in justified self-defense are black. All and all, the attempt to turn Rittenhouse’s innocence into a racial narrative is nothing but straw-grasping and hole cloth.

Great so, an obviously innocent young man isn’t going to jail. The correct verdict was reached. Why does any of this matter? It matters because, even after the jury announced the verdict, millions of Americans continued to think that Rittenhouse was guilty, contrary to all available evidence.

All of the footage (except for the drone footage which was oddly withheld until the trial) and most of the facts of the case were widely available mere days after the shooting. Nevertheless, millions of Americans believed Rittenhouse to be a murderer. A YouGov poll found that just five days before Rittenhouse was acquitted on all accounts, a plurality of Americans, 45%, believed Rittenhouse should be found guilty. An astonishing 50% of people who claimed to be well informed on the case believed Rittenhouse to be guilty. I’m willing to venture that the vast majority of these people watched none of the footage from the night of the incident and nothing more than highlights of the trial provided by their preferred news-spinners. That is to say, a plurality of Americans were just a few minutes of film away from having a lie easily, obviously, and irrevocably shattered. Anecdotes are not data, but at the very least, all of my friends who thought Rittenhouse was guilty admitted that they never watched film of the shootings.

The Rittenhouse story truly belongs in the false narrative hall of fame up there with Covington Catholic, Russian Collusion, Jussie Smollett, and QAnon. It is a prime example of the full power of echo chambers. We all think we understand the danger of echo chambers and misinformation, but it becomes more shocking when digging into an individual story. For over a year, nearly half of all Americans believed an obviously false narrative, when the truth was readily and easily available. Unfortunately, overtly fake stories are a dime a dozen. However, that doesn’t mean that reasonable people from either side can’t call conspiracy theories what they are, no matter the source. I have no problem saying that the climate is changing, or that tragedies such as the George Floyd murder or the Stoneman Douglass shooting weren’t “false flag operations,” or that Bill Gates doesn’t want to inject me with 5G (although with my cell service, I probably wouldn’t mind).

Man is a social animal. I understand that breaking from the tribe can be scary. All I’m asking is that, for the sake of the national social fabric and the sake of the truth, you watch three minutes of video footage before falsely labeling a young man as a murdering white supremacist, and maybe call out your friends when they start spewing total nonsense. I promise I’ll do my best to do the same.

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