The Union Democrat

Politics and justice


To the Editor:

The trial of Kyle Rittenhous­e raises several important questions. From a legal standpoint, it was a question of murder or self-defense. It appears the verdict was appropriat­e based on the evidence. Unfortunat­ely, discussion of Rittenhous­e's alleged politics and affiliatio­ns was raised, though they were irrelevant to the case. To clarify, let us engage in a thought experiment. Suppose Kyle Rittenhous­e was a 17-year-old Black kid, living in Illinois with a father and friends in Kenosha where he stored a gun. He takes his rifle to the demonstrat­ion protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake. He is attacked, and kills two people. We can imagine that those on the right would condemn him as a “wanton murderer” who came to Kenosha to kill right-wingers. Left-leaning people would defend him for having acted in self-defense. If the assessment of a case can depend on the ethnicity and politics of those involved, then justice is no longer blind.

Our legal system is also corrupted by excessive and discrimina­tory pre-trial detention and questionab­le sentences for Jan. 6 rioters guilty of non-violent misdemeano­rs.

Don't misunderst­and me. I do not support (but I can understand) the actions of the Capitol rioters. And I believe Rittenhous­e is at best immature and misguided, at worst a sociopathi­c scumbag who while awaiting trial celebrated with Proud Boys, blithely disregardi­ng the fact that his irresponsi­ble actions had resulted in the death of two people. However, if we claim to live according to the “rule of law,” we must base our legal judgments and actions on relevant law and facts, not politics and emotion.

One conclusion, however, to me is certain: Firearms should be prohibited at demonstrat­ions.

Phil Nichols


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