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"Thoughts of the Free" - a new blog by yours truly!


HawkbitAlpha
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Yep, here we go! I've had this site on standby for months now, but nothing to write for it until now. So, here it is: "Thoughts of the Free", a mainly-political blog by yours truly. I don't know how often I'll be updating it, nor when I'm gonna get around to actually building the rest of the site, but to start off, I thought I'd mirror the first post here for all of you to see and, hopefully, enjoy. This one's a summation of my thoughts on the whole discourse around Kyle Rittenhouse, and what I see in it.

Let's go!

 

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Kyle Rittenhouse as a symptom, not a cause

Alright, overly long Steam break over. Let’s get the ball rolling on this blog.

Ever since I first heard the Kyle Rittenhouse trial was underway, I’ve been going out of my way to laboriously avoid any of the discourse surrounding it. That includes the fact that I also haven’t watched the trial at all. Now, why is this? Because, right after the Rittenhouse case first hit the news, I looked into the details of the killings, and figured that he had a strong enough case for self-defense to get off from at least those charges – I knew the outcome of this trial would, more or less, be a foregone conclusion. He ended up getting off on all of them, of course, but my overall take on him remains unchanged. This is for one simple reason:

The legal part of this case is a discussion I find to be extremely uninteresting. Whether Rittenhouse was too young to legally own a gun, broke state crossing laws, or met the legal threshold for self-defense, I don’t care. So, for everyone on both sides of the discourse who apparently went to law school and passed the bar exam in the last year since his killings, save your opinions about the court case for someone who actually gives a damn. (I will just stonewall you if you try to go there anyway.)

No, folks, the ideological part of this discourse is what really clicks with me. What happens to one Kyle Rittenhouse is effectively irrelevant to me, but since he’s the center of attention, let’s use him as the symbol of a larger issue, and dig in.

To start off, let’s get one very clear, but often-ignored fact out of the way: 93% of the BLM protests, by all measurements, have been peaceful. The fact that this known statistic has been out there for more than a year now, while the “common knowledge” of the right-wing mythology remains that “BLM and Antifa” are “burning American cities to the ground” as we speak, is a testament to how detached from reality one already has to be to think traveling to another city to “defend property” with armed force is a solid idea. There has never been a mass protest movement in the entire history of the world that didn’t involve some degree of violence (see: the 60s Civil Rights Movement and the many race riots associated with it, a la the “long, hot summer” of 1967; or, for analogues to Antifa: the Black Panthers or Deacons for Defense & Justice), meaning that anyone willing to give justification to armed opposition to BLM will also have to explain why they would justify brandishing guns against those civil rights protesters of days past. If you actually do want to be the one to defend the anti-protest actions of both Kyle Rittenhouse and the Klan in the same argument, though, be my guest.

Anyway, let’s keep riding this train of thought. What have we heard from Kyle Rittenhouse’s fans ever since he had his episode in Kenosha? That the people he killed deserved to die anyway, that “angels guided his bullets” (yes, that’s an actual quote from The Hake Report), that he’s a precious boy who deserves to be shielded from the media, that this case is so clear-cut that it shouldn’t even have gone to trial (that’s not how the legal system works), and so on. In more blunt words, for putting himself in a position to harm members of the political group that they don’t like, the American right-wing is celebrating this kid as a national hero, just as they have before with, among others, convicted killer Derek Chauvin (who, might I remind everyone at home, was so unambiguously in the wrong that he was a cop who managed to be convicted of murder) and the many rioters who attempted to overthrow the government at the Capitol at the start of this year.

Now, really, tell it to me straight: what does this all-consuming bloodlust say about the state of affairs of the Republican Party and company? Because I can tell you the message it broadcasts to me.

The common mantra about political discussions is that it’s alright to have disagreements of opinions as long as you both agree on what’s true, but here, we face another problem entirely: the American right-wing disagrees with the facts, and reality itself. What’s true, let alone what’s a correct belief, is only secondary to crushing what the divisive media has told them is their opposition (“owning the libs”, as it were in internet parlance), even if they have to spin a narrative to create the opposition themselves. So, naturally, if you take it all the way and kill your political opponents, who cares, as long as you’re convinced that you’ve just done good in the process?

The easiest way to get more Kyle Rittenhouses is to stay locked in this perpetual cycle of consuming rage piece after rage piece. For years, my dad would tell me to never listen to the media, because they’re out to divide us… and yet, he lets them do it. So many people, just like him, say they believe in looking beyond the media to the truth, only to gladly let their favorite TV host, online/alt media personality, Facebook influencer, or what-have-you get them stuck in a confirmation bias-laden, one-sided information silo.

So, to bring this meandering piece to a close, I want to ask a direct question to Kyle Rittenhouse’s fans: why, exactly, are you defending him? Is it on your own initiative, or is it because you’ve been told by your favorite source of confirmation that it’s the righteous thing to do? Once you’ve answered, I want you to ask yourself the same question about any other topic you may be focused on at the moment. Vaccines/COVID might be a good one to start. Be honest with yourself when you do.

This message goes for everyone reading as well. When you find yourself making a point, try to ask yourself the big question: “How did I learn this?” I know from experience that it can be hard to apply this rule to yourself on a regular basis, but trust me, it’ll make for a much healthier participation in politics, a field that’s already diseased enough as it is, both figuratively and literally.

…Oof, it’s now 2:25AM. I think that’s my cue to end this here. That’s all from me here.

 

PS: If you think Rittenhouse and his family are going to be able to launch an entire legal counter-campaign against the media for “slander”, I advise you to look into how hard it is to actually prove slander under the law.

PPS: Rittenhouse’s verdict wasn’t the only one that came out today. A disgraced Kansas City cop was also convicted today for the blatantly-unjust 2019 killing of Cameron Lamb. Just a little positive news on which to end this post of exasperation.

 

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