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The Men Rittenhouse Shot Can’t be Called ‘Victims’?

Rex Huppke, Tribune Content Agency on

The judge in Kyle Rittenhouse’s upcoming murder trial has laid out some early ground rules for attorneys, and they make perfect sense, as long as you’re a member of one of the militias or neo-fascist groups that support the 18-year-old defendant.

On Monday, Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder ruled that the two men Rittenhouse shot and killed and the one man he shot and wounded during protests over a Wisconsin police shooting last year can’t be called “victims” during the trial. They can, however, be called “arsonists,” “looters” or “rioters.”

The two nonvictims who are dead because Rittenhouse shot them could not be reached for comment.

The judge’s argument is that the word “victim” is too prejudicial. That seems reasonable, but on what planet does calling someone an arsonist or looter not impact how others view that person?

You don’t generally hear someone say, “Hey, I’d like you all to meet Bob, we’ve been friends since high school. He enjoys light looting and setting buildings on fire. Shall we head to lunch?”

The judge said defense attorneys can use the rather judgmental terms during closing arguments if there’s evidence the victim-esque people on the receiving end of Rittenhouse’s bullets actually engaged in looting, arson or rioting. But again, two of those three bullet recipients will be unable to defend their character due to their current state of nonaliveness, which came courtesy of Rittenhouse and his large gun.

 

The judge said the defense attorney can “demonize” the three men who were shot “if he thinks it will win points with the jury.”

Super. Nothing like a judge who’s pro-demonization and all-in on winning points.

Since the August 2020 night in Kenosha when Rittenhouse shot and killed Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz in the wake of protests and rioting over a white police officer’s shooting of a Black man, the then-17-year-old has become a hero among far-right folks who wish they too could shoot some people.

While out on bail in January, Rittenhouse was photographed at a bar flashing the white supremacist “OK” symbol with folks who sang him a song that has become the anthem of the neo-fascist Proud Boys. That led the judge to bar Rittenhouse from associating with known white supremacists, which doesn’t sound like a mark in the defendant’s favor.

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