Intercept wildly misinterprets point of Rittenhouse trial

November 19, 2021

By Tim Worstall

In a new piece, The Intercept claims that the issue for the jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial is the character of those who died or were shot. This is, of course, entirely untrue. When a trial depends upon the “self-defense” defense, that’s what the trial is about. Was the defendant just and righteous in defending themselves in this manner? That’s it. 

The article is headlined, “Rittenhouse Jury Has to Decide If the Men Who Tried to Stop Him Were Heroes or Villains.” That has nothing, at all, to do with the issues in that jury room. The dead could have been Joan of Arc with attendant hosts of angels or Hitler himself along with the Waffen SS. All entirely irrelevant to what the jury has to decide upon.

“This praise for the men who tried to stop Rittenhouse before he could kill again contrasted sharply with how they have been vilified in the far-right media,” the piece says.

 Even that’s not right.

This isn’t even a constitutional issue over the right to bear arms. It’s about one of the most basic legal liberties that stretches back at least a thousand years to Anglo Saxon England. If someone is attacking you, there is a right to fight back to stop them. It’s not an unlimited right, it must be proportional. The amount of force being used to defend must be reasonable given the amount being put into the attack.

Which is the issue before the jury here. It’s also the only important pair of issues before that jury. Was Kyle Rittenhouse acting in self defense? If yes, then was the force used commensurate with that being used in the attack? There are no other issues here of any legal importance.

It’s entirely possible to come up with differing answers to those two questions. But to try to insist that the correct answers depend upon the characters of the alleged attackers is simply wrong.

The Intercept was set up as a charitable foundation aimed at breaking the media monopoly, at bringing unheard voices into the mainstream. It gains some 5 million views a month, is in the top 500 media sites. Readers deserve better than this highly culturally partisan reading of the major news story at the present moment.

The Rittenhouse trial is about the righteousness of self-defense – when, under what sort of attack, is it just and righteous to use how much force to defend oneself? That’s the only issue the jury should have considered. Trying to wrap this up into some tale about the good nature of the alleged attackers does the readership no service. In fact, it’s likely an attempt to mislead them.



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