Friday, November 19, 2021

Grim on Rittenhouse

Read Grim's Hall every day.  I do, for good reasons.  He's extremely well-versed in the Western intellectual tradition and its religious-moral tenets.  He's also a warrior, spending time in the sandbox and other places.  We've met; I'm not sure that his taste in pizza is best, but......

Here he takes on the ninny-nannies who claim that Kyle 'shouldn't have gone there', like e.g., Jay Weber.

Tex gets at a big problem for the Rittenhouse defense in her comment to the post below. In discussions with people who want to see him convicted of something, I run into the same intuition over and over. "He shouldn't have been there," they say, "and he definitely shouldn't have brought a rifle." (Especially, I suspect, a scary rifle like the AR-15 they've been taught to fear.)

There's definitely a longstanding concern, expressed in the Johnny Cash song that heads this post, about young men taking guns to town. It's definitely a risk, given that young men have not fully grown into maturity of judgment and are still driven by hot pride and hormones. The fact is that this particular young man exercised exceptional judgment with his firearm. The facts show that he did not fire first, that he fired fewer shots than his attackers, that they had more guns and assaulted him in multiple ways, yet he constantly retreated from conflict and fired only when absolutely necessary. Yet the intuition, which is a moral feeling, is stronger than the facts.

It is also stronger than the law. The law is that 16 and 17 year-olds may carry rifles and shotguns in that state. A citizen, even a youth, has a legal right to be in public places (the claim that he was violating curfew was unsubstantiated and abandoned by the prosecution). He has a right to travel freely, without being stopped or assaulted or fired upon. Stopping to render aid to the wounded is permitted of citizens even if they are not government employees, and in fact often required by law: in many states, if you come upon an accident you are legally required to render aid and assistance if capable. There is no reason citizen volunteers should not put out fires in the streets even if the fire department has not shown up yet. 

Everything he was doing was legal, in other words, but it is felt to have been a provocation that should void his other legal rights -- up to and including his right to defend himself from assault, battery, theft of property such as that rifle, and so forth. 

Would he have been harmed if he had been unarmed, without the rifle as provocation? Maybe! Also in those riots an elderly man with a fire extinguisher was beaten by similar thugs just for trying to stop the fires they were starting. Just because he had a fire extinguisher in his hands, was that a provocation that voids his right to self-defense? The older man was trying to prevent arson of a fraternal organization, the Danish Lodge, which was destroyed in the fire after his beating.

Ultimately self-defense is not the right place to hang the defense of Rittenhouse. What he was engaged in was good citizenship. Citizens have a moral right to defend their community from lawless violence, even with rifles, even if they constitute themselves as a militia for the purpose of doing so. Yes, even if the government chooses to abandon its duty to protect the community from such lawless violence -- especially if they do. 

That he was defending himself is true, and a legal reason not to prosecute him. The moral feeling that he was doing something wrong is misplaced. He was doing something right. We should all respond so well in the face of danger, of arson, of mobs. We have the moral right and we have the legal right. So did he.


Jewel said...

Welp. Will MSDNC rouse enough of the rabble to get even with the judge? Film at hopes.

Grim said...

My taste in pizza is excellent, but I have a few new favorite places if you ever find yourself in Western NC.

Dad29 said...

De gustibus non disputandum est.