ethics, healthcare, law, poor judgment, tragedies, true crime

The right to “bear arms”, versus the right to “bare arms”…

Special thanks to a witty commenter on The Washington Post for the inspiration for this post’s title… and special thanks to Wikipedia user Cimmerian pastor for use of today’s featured photo– a woman with “bare arms” enjoying her right to “bear arms” in the Czech Republic.

I actually started to write this post yesterday morning, just after I posted my rerun blog about Gene Wilder, but a friend came up from Stuttgart and wanted to visit the Christmas market in Wiesbaden, so I never got around to finishing. Now that it’s Monday, I can go back to my regularly scheduled programming… 😉

On this peaceful morning, I’m sitting here thinking about items from the news. There have been a few interesting stories this week. Of course, in the United States, there are several high profile legal proceedings going on involving Josh Duggar and Ghislaine Maxwell, and now, Michigan parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, who bought their fifteen year old son, Ethan, a pistol for Christmas.

Ethan won’t get another chance to play with his new Christmas toy… This is a screenshot of Ethan’s Instagram page before it was deleted.

On November 26, Ethan Crumbley posted a picture of the gun on Instagram. He captioned the photo with “Just got my new beauty today. SIG SAUER 9mm”, finishing with a heart-eyes emoji. Ethan’s mother, Jennifer Crumbley, also posted about the gun, and took him to a shooting range last weekend.

One week ago, a teacher at Oxford High School, in Oxford, Michigan, where Ethan is a sophomore student, noticed Ethan searching on his phone for ammunition for his new weapon. The teacher reported the discovery to school officials, who then notified Jennifer Crumbley about her son’s strange Web searches. Crumbley didn’t respond to the call from school officials, but she did send Ethan a text that read, “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught…”

On Tuesday of last week, the day of the school shooting, another teacher noticed Ethan had a drawing that showed a semiautomatic handgun pointing at the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” There was another drawing of a bullet with the words “Blood Everywhere” written above it, and a “laughing” emoji below it. Also found on the note is the statement, “My life is useless” and “The world is dead.”

School officials contacted Ethan’s parents again, but they declined to take him out of school. For some reason, Ethan was instead allowed to go back to class. Later on Tuesday, Ethan then proceeded to use his new Christmas present to perpetrate the latest school shooting.

Ethan Crumbley is now a suspected school shooter, allegedly responsible for the deaths of four students. His parents have also been arrested; James and Jennifer Crumbley are now in jail, each with $500,000 bonds. They were apprehended after a manhunt, and were found hiding in a building in Detroit, Michigan. According to CNN, all three of the Crumbleys are on suicide watch, even though none have indicated that they plan to harm themselves.

My friend Alex wrote about the Crumbleys crumbling Christmas season on his blog. Alex wrote:

When I read in various articles that Jennifer Crumbley had written an open letter to then-President Donald Trump in her now-deleted blog thanking him for protecting Americans’ Second Amendment rights a few years ago, I was not surprised. The Crumbleys embody everything that is wrong with the American right: a mixture of anger, victimhood, entitlement, and disregard for laws and public safety.

As I read Alex’s comment about how the Crumbleys praised Trump for “protecting Americans’ Second Amendment rights”, I was suddenly reminded of another story I read last week… that of an unnamed man in Italy who used a fake arm when he went to get his COVID vaccine. The nurse noticed that the skin was a different color and texture, even though it looked pretty lifelike. The guy, who is in his 50s, was unsuccessful in his plan to get the shot injected in a fake arm, thus sparing himself the vaccine. He is supposedly a dentist in Italy who has been suspended from his job, as all healthcare workers in Italy are required to be vaccinated.

In Italy, vaccine mandates are making it a lot harder to work or otherwise live a “normal” life. People are getting creative in their ploys to avoid getting “jabbed”, yet they still want to live as if they had done their civic duty. Germany, like Italy, and a lot of other European nations, is also making it harder to live normally without getting vaccinated. I think it won’t be long before COVID unvaccinated people find themselves deprived of liberty, much like recalcitrant tuberculosis patients are.

And then it occurred to me… the Crumbleys have abused the “right to bear arms” in the United States. And the unnamed guy in Italy who tried to use a fake arm to fool the health workers, abused the “right to bare arms” in Italy. Isn’t that clever?

I suspect Jennifer and James Crumbley are in deep legal shit right now, in part, because Kyle Rittenhouse just got acquitted of murder. Many people felt Rittenhouse’s mother should have been prosecuted for her son’s role in killing two people and wounding another man at a demonstration. Of course, it appears that the Crumbleys were even more negligent in keeping their minor son away from deadly weapons than Kyle Rittenhouse’s mom was.

I have a feeling that the Rittenhouse verdict is going to cause new laws to be passed, making parents responsible if their minor children get ahold of weapons and and kill or injure others. I do think that if that does become the case, though, the minors involved should be tried as minors, rather than adults. If parents are going to be held responsible for not protecting the public from their minor children, then it doesn’t seem right to me that the “child” would also be tried as an adult. On the other hand, it does appear to me that there’s something very wrong with Ethan Crumbley, and he probably needs mental health treatment. That could be true for his parents, too, but it does appear to me that they were very negligent. And now, it looks like they’re going to be headed to prison on the family plan, much like Travis and Greg McMichael are.

As for the guy in Italy with the fake silicone arm, I think he, and most of his anti-vaxxer sympathizers, ought to be ashamed of themselves. We’re not going to get past COVID-19 until people start thinking of others and get the vaccine. Aside from that, if you’re not going to get vaccinated, have some fucking integrity and don’t try to pull a fast one on already exhausted fellow healthcare workers. They’ve been through enough since this plague began last year. Have the decency to stay home. Oh… and grow the fuck up, too!

I will probably get my booster after the New Year. Bill got me an appointment for January 5th. But maybe I’ll be able to get one even sooner than that. I don’t look forward to the achy fallout, but I will be glad to be boosted, because I am so tired of the COVID rigamarole. This shit needs to end, already.

I will probably write yet another rant, at some point soon, about how Republicans are now trying to ban abortions… but they sure do like their guns. And I haven’t seen a whole lot of “good guys with guns” showing up to save students who just want to get educated so they can enjoy life… you know, that thing that Republican “pro-lifers” are so hellbent on protecting? As George Carlin famously said of Republicans, “If you’re pre-born, you’re fine. If you’re pre-school, you’re fucked!”

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law, racism, true crime

Chasing and finally catching justice for Ahmaud Arbery…

I remember being horrified as I first read about Ahmaud Arbery’s last moments on this planet. The 25 year old Black man was out running in Brunswick, Georgia on February 23, 2020. He was unarmed, and made the unfortunate decision to pass through Satilla Shores, where he would eventually encounter the three White men who ended his life. Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, chased Arbery in their vehicles. Unlike Arbery, two of his pursuers were armed. The two McMichaels had weapons and rode in a vehicle together as they chased the young man who was out for a run. Bryan brought his camera, which he used to video the confrontation. In light of what happened yesterday, I’m sure Bryan wishes he’d left the camera at home.

Gregory McMichael, a former police officer in Brunswick, had initiated the chase when he saw Ahmaud Arbery run past his house. He had wrongly suspected Arbery of burglary or theft in Satilla Shores and decided to take it upon himself to make a “citizen’s arrest”, bringing along a .357 Magnum pistol revolver. Travis joined his father, toting a shotgun. Bryan inexplicably decided independently to join in the chase, but hadn’t known if Arbery had done anything illegal.

Although Arbery had, on several occasions, entered an under-construction house with no doors in the neighborhood, there was never any evidence of theft, according to security camera footage. Travis McMichael had made a call to 911 about a week and a half before Arbery’s final run. He reported that Arbery was breaking into the unfinished house. Moreover, according to The Toronto Star, Arbery’s relatives were known to local law enforcement.

Gregory McMichael did have a past with Arbery, as McMichael had been an investigator for Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office from 1995 until his retirement in May 2019. When he was in high school, Arbery was sentenced to five years probation as a first offender on charges of carrying a weapon on campus and several counts of obstructing a law enforcement officer. He was convicted of probation violation in 2018 after he was charged with shoplifting. McMichael had been involved with the case, and was instrumental in getting Arbery’s probation revoked.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, had asked that the Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney, Roger Barnhill, recuse himself from the case. This was because Barnhill’s son was a prosecutor who had worked with Gregory McMichael in a previous court case involving Ahmaud Arbery. It was very fortunate that Cooper Jones had made that request, particularly since she hadn’t known that McMichael and Barnhill had any ties to her son’s legal past. She simply hadn’t wanted Barnhill on the case because his son worked for the Brunswick district attorney’s office. If Barnhill hadn’t recused himself, Cooper Jones’s lawyer, Lee Merritt, said, “the case would’ve been no billed to a grand jury and the McMichaels would’ve gotten away with murder.”

Barnhill had written in his letter of recusal that Arbery and his family had been in trouble with the law in Brunswick, and that his older brother was incarcerated. One of Arbery’s cousins also had a past with the police department. To those revelations, attorney Lee Merritt said:

“This speaks to the wider issue of mass incarceration. If Black people have any kind of criminal record, somehow that justifies their murder.”

But talk to some people in the community, and they will swear up and down that a person with a rap sheet deserves to be killed if they’re caught doing something illegal. Especially if the person with a rap sheet is not White. Sure enough, it took 74 days before the three men who were responsible for killing Ahmaud Arbery were finally arrested and charged with murder. The local prosecutor was friends with Gregory McMichael and did not want to bring charges against the men. So yes, the men were brought to justice, but it could have easily gone the other way.

Justice is served.

The trial took place in Brunswick, but every Brunswick Judicial Circuit Judge recused themselves from the case. Consequently, Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley presided over the trial. Yesterday, I watched as Judge Walmsley read the verdicts for the three men who claimed “self-defense” when they decided to pursue and kill Ahmaud Arbery. I’m not sure why these guys thought Arbery didn’t have the right to defend himself when he was confronted by three men, two of whom had weapons.

Travis McMichael was pronounced guilty of all charges. Gregory McMichael was pronounced guilty of all but one charge of malice murder. William “Roddie” Bryan was pronounced guilty of felony murder (3 counts), aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony (1 count each). These were just the charges brought against them by the state of Georgia. There are still federal charges pending against the three men.

Not a happy day for these guys. They will probably not see the light of day as free men again. Bryan looks like he’s about to burst into tears as the judge announces the verdict.

I am impressed by Judge Walmsley. He handled this case very soberly, professionally, and fairly. I think his conduct starkly contrasts that of Judge Bruce Schroeder, who was reportedly more brash and quirky in the way he ran Kyle Rittenhouse’s recent trial in Wisconsin. The result of Rittenhouse’s trial was much less lauded by the public, as Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges. Of course, these two cases have to do with race relations, but they aren’t really that similar. It still surprised me that Ahmaud Arbery’s case in Georgia seemed to end much more fairly than Kyle Rittenhouse’s case did in Wisconsin. Personally, I think Rittenhouse was acquitted because the prosecutor was too ambitious about the level of charges against Rittenhouse. I do think Rittenhouse should have gotten some prison time.

Today is Thanksgiving, and I have no doubt that Ahmaud Arbery’s family is giving thanks that the men who were responsible for killing Ahmaud will have to pay for their crimes. Ahmaud Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, let out a celebratory whoop when the first guilty verdict was read. He now says that he and his family can move forward. Maybe this is a sign of some progress in our country.

This video was key evidence that got three men convicted. It was recorded by William “Roddie” Bryan, who probably wishes he’d minded his own business on that February day last year.

I don’t take any delight in seeing people locked up in prison, but I do think prison is necessary and just for violent crimes, especially those done out of hate. There is no excuse for the way these men hunted down Arbery and killed him. I do have some compassion for the loved ones of the incarcerated, even though I do think they belong in prison. Prison is tough on families, and Gregory McMichael’s wife is going to see her husband and her son go away, probably for the rest of their lives. I’m sure that is heartbreaking for her. But I also think that justice is finally being done. The McMichaels and Mr. Bryan should not have taken the law into their own hands.

If anything good has come out of this incident, it’s that some very old and bad laws have now been stricken from Georgia’s books. According to The New York Times:

…the trial of [Arbery’s] accused killers also brought up issues of policing — although in this case, it involved questions about private citizens and their rights to detain people who they believe to be breaking the law.

Those rights in Georgia were spelled out in a controversial Civil War-era statute that was significantly weakened by state lawmakers in direct response to the outrage over the Arbery killing. Lawmakers also passed Georgia’s first-ever hate crimes law as a result of the incident.

All of that set up a remarkable kind of trial in which the defendants claimed they were not guilty based in part on an old law that their actions helped to dismantle. At the same time, they were not charged under the new Georgia hate crimes law., though all three have also been indicted under the federal hate crimes statute.

Maybe the new legislation against hate crimes will mean that Ahmaud Arbery’s death won’t be entirely in vain.

Incidentally, Bill and I have been to Brunswick, Georgia. We went there in October 2009 to pick up my car, which was brand new and had just been shipped from Germany. I remember it to be a very weird town, mainly due to the strange taxi driver who picked us up at the tiny airport there. He was an old guy who drove like a maniac and scared the wits out of Bill. Bill ended up complaining about the dude at the hotel where we stayed– an Embassy Suites that was connected to the mall, which apparently didn’t even have an ATM.

The manager of the hotel actually refunded the cost of our stay because Bill noticed that the hotel had a shuttle and it wasn’t mentioned on their Web site. He had If we had known the hotel had a shuttle, we could have been spared the wacko taxi ride with the sketchy guy who had to be paid in cash and drove us to a bank. We never went back to Brunswick, although the beach area was kind of appealing. I think if we ship our cars next time we move to the States, we’ll have them delivered in Charleston. It may cost more, but it’ll be a lot less weird.

Happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate. I think our holiday will mostly be a normal day, albeit with Bill off. He just vacuumed for me, which is a real treat.

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law, money, social media, true crime, YouTube

Catching up on the news, and Fundie Fridays takes on Dave Ramsey…

Hoo boy… there’s so much I could be writing about this morning. Bill got home last night and had a joyous reunion with the dogs. That was seriously adorable, and I got it all on video.

Arran had been waiting patiently in the foyer for Bill every night of his trip. He’d go downstairs at about 5:00, and hang out for a couple of hours, then forlornly come back upstairs and join me. They were finally reunited last night! Noyzi was just as delighted to see Bill as Arran and I were. Notice I have “Foreplay/Long Time” by Boston playing.

I put up all our Christmas stuff a couple of days ago, because I just wanted to get it over with. Thursday is vacuum day, and the Christmas trees always make a mess. I knew I wouldn’t want to have to deal with the trees on Thanksgiving, nor would I want to vacuum twice in a week, because, I hate vacuuming with a passion. Also, as much as I love Bill, he has a tendency to get in the way when I’m decorating. So I decorated on Thursday, and now our house looks all festive and pretty. I know it’s early, but fuck it… it’s my house. I like the lights, and the trees make my living room more full.

Kyle Rittenhouse gets off…

As I predicted, Kyle Rittenhouse got acquitted of all charges he faced regarding his poor decision to bring an AR-15 to a protest. He won’t be going to state prison for killing two men and wounding one. However, I have a strong feeling that his legal woes aren’t over. I’ll bet he gets sued for wrongful death. I heard a rumor that the Department of Justice might decide to try him for crossing state lines with a weapon… although I think I would be surprised if they did that. And, even if his legal problems end, I suspect he and his family will be harassed.

Kyle Rittenhouse is now someone that people either love or hate. There are right wingers who champion him. But there are other people who would like to see his head on a platter. And then there are many other people who are just plain apathetic, and will be glad to see this particular bit of news go stale. I think Kyle will be in the news for awhile, though, because I’ll bet he gets death threats. Even though he scored a victory, of sorts, I would not want to be him for anything.

I think about all of the adolescent boys I’ve known over the years… they get this surge of machismo, which I’m sure is biological. They want the hot cars, sexy women and, if they’re into guns, they want the biggest and baddest. They have romanticized ideas about how things will play out, and they lack the maturity to understand that life isn’t a movie set. I think the adults in Kyle’s life really failed him. He could have used someone older and wiser– older than his 18 year old buddy, that is– explaining to him why he didn’t need to be in Kenosha with a gun, trying to be an EMT or the police or whatever.

I know my view isn’t popular, especially among liberals, but personally I think the verdict was mostly appropriate. Kyle Rittenhouse certainly had no business being where he was, and he should not have been carrying a weapon. But the evidence showed that the people he killed were not necessarily good actors themselves. I think it could have very easily gone the other way, and Kyle could have been the one who was killed that day. I do think he should have been convicted of at least one of the charges, and gotten a little bit of prison time, but the prosecution was probably too zealous in the seriousness of the charges they levied against him. They wanted to nail him and make him a poster child, and the facts simply didn’t bear up well enough for them to succeed.

Moving on…

Some regular readers might know that I like to watch Fundie Fridays, which is a YouTube channel in which the hosts, Jen and James, make videos about fundie Christians and related topics. Jen often does her makeup while she discusses these things. I like Jen a lot. I think she’s funny, and I am amazed by how good she is at doing her makeup. I’ve always done my makeup the same way, ever since I was a teenager. And that’s when I can be bothered to wear it!

Every once in awhile, though, her boyfriend James tackles a topic. Or, maybe he just joins his girlfriend on one of her videos. I like him, too. They’re both very engaging on camera. I hate being on camera myself, so I admire that they’re so good at what they do, and they’ve managed to marry a compelling subject like whackadoodle fundie Christians with putting on makeup. It’s a great idea, since both subjects seem to be very interesting to other YouTube viewers.

Last night (or maybe just yesterday, since I’m probably several hours ahead of them), Jen was “busy” tending to her island in a video game. James made a video about Dave Ramsey. I thought it was excellent.

I love the fact that Jen and James are willing to wade through all the cringeworthy crap put out by Dave Ramsey and his ilk and put it together in such an entertaining way.

Seriously, I really think this video is well done. I liked the way James broke down how people used to bank. For instance, he mentions that back in the 70s and 80s, a lot of people had “hometown banks” that were independently run, and loan decisions were made by people in the community. I remember doing that myself.

For several years, I banked at locally owned Peninsula Trust Bank, which was a very small chain in my area of Virginia. It was a great bank– very personal and friendly, and I appreciated the local touch! But alas, like so many other small town banks, it eventually got obliterated by one of the humongous chains that have made local banking a thing of the past. Hell, now I bank with PenFed and USAA, and have no personal relationship with my bank at all, other than to lament about how they’re much too quick to lock down my credit cards when I make a (rare) purchase.

In any case, Dave Ramsey’s issues with financial disaster, before he became a wildly successful Christian financial guru, were partly brought on by the fact that small banks used to be popular. According to the Fundie Fridays video, Ramsey’s small town bank got taken over by a much larger, less personal bank. Ramsey, who was very young to be in the real estate business, owed a whole lot of money. The small bankers were willing to trust him, based on his parents’ successful business and their good name. The larger bankers weren’t, and they called in the loan. He couldn’t repay it within 30 days, because the loan was in the millions. That caused Ramsey to go through financial ruin.

Then, like a Christian phoenix, rising from the ashes, Ramsey became “born again”. He started following Biblical principles to get himself out of financial trouble. He claims they worked for him, and now he’s very wealthy and known all around the world. Lots of people love him. Others, like me, think he’s a verbally abusive, hyper-controlling, narcissistic creep. I ranted about him myself some months ago.

You see, Ramsey doesn’t just preach about financial habits to his followers. He also seems to think he has the right to dictate how they live their personal lives. As James from Fundie Fridays points out, Ramsey might even have a point when he says that a person who will cheat on their spouse will probably also cheat in financial matters. However, I doubt that Jesus would be okay with Ramsey’s habit of abusing and disparaging people who don’t dance to his tune. I think Ramsey’s behavior is often distinctly unChristlike. He says Christians should be “cheerfully generous” in giving their money… but I would submit that Jesus would also want people to be generous in how (or whether) they judge, and ultimately treat, other people.

So anyway…. I think you should watch the above video if what I’ve written sounds intriguing to you. I think James did a great job covering Dave Ramsey, and I hope he does more videos. I love watching Jen’s videos, too, but it was a nice change seeing and hearing from her boyfriend, and they make a great team.

And finally…

There’s still more I could write about this morning. Like, for instance, how it’s impossible to leave a comment on a Facebook news article and not either get hit on by some roving creep with one Facebook friend, or have some stranger put words in your fingers and try to lure you into an argument. I did get hit on by a creepy Facebook dude, who was apparently looking for people to scam. I politely told him to fuck off, and happily, he did.

Things were going swimmingly, until some other guy came along and posted about people with “blood on their hands”. He mentioned me in his comment, and compared Europe to Texas and Florida. Having been to both of those states, I disagreed with his assessment. Europe is nothing like Texas or Florida, even in terms of COVID.

He came back and jumped on me, starting his comment with “Are you telling me that…” and more emotional posturing. I was immediately annoyed, because the comment was several hours old; Bill had just come home; and I just had no desire to get into a Facebook argument with a stranger looking for a fight. I left a longer comment explaining myself, prefacing it by writing “I never said that.” And then I ended it with, “There’s no need to get snippy with me. I was simply commenting on a news article. The COVID-19 situation is not my fault.” He tried twice more to get to me to respond, but I ignored him, because Bill’s home and we were tired… and who’s got the time or inclination to argue with some stranger on Facebook?

I do think it’s a shame, though, that we can’t have calm, rational, sane discussions on social media without it turning into something nasty and uncivilized. I get that people are frustrated, pent up, and angry about a whole lot of things, from COVID-19, to Kyle Rittenhouse, to Dave Ramsey’s bully tactics. But that’s no reason to be rude to a perfect stranger’s painfully neutral comment on a news article. I know that will never change in my lifetime, though, so I probably shouldn’t engage regardless.

So ends today’s blog post. I hope you have a great Saturday, wherever you are… and the news of the world isn’t too distressing.

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law, true crime

My thoughts on Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial…

This morning, Bill and I were talking about Kyle Rittenhouse, who’s been all over the news this week. Rittenhouse sobbed during his testimony about the night of August 25, 2020, when he killed two men and wounded another. Rittenhouse, who was 17 years old at the time, had traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin from his home in Antioch, Illinois. The teenager had gone to Kenosha to help “protect” property and act as a medic as protesters flooded the street, angered that police had shot and wounded a Black man named Jacob Blake.

From what I’ve read, the protest had become violent and chaotic. Protesters burned down several buildings and were destroying police cars. And yet, there was Kyle, driven by his mother over state lines, and carrying an AR-15 rifle, purchased for him by a friend who was over 18. At 17, Kyle Rittenhouse was too young to buy the weapon himself.

According to his testimony, Kyle Rittenhouse was being chased by the protesters he ended up shooting with the AR-15. He says he was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and later injured Gaige Grosskreutz. Although Rittenhouse has maintained that his actions were done in self-defense, prosecutors have argued that Rittenhouse “created the peril through his own reckless actions that caused others to fear for their own lives and led directly to the violence.” However, according to the article I linked, “mountains of video and photo evidence appear to show Rosenbaum acting aggressively and chasing Rittenhouse, Huber striking him with a skateboard and Grosskreutz pointing a pistol at him.”

So this wasn’t a case of a person cold-bloodedly walking up to someone and shooting them. This wasn’t a situation in which the victims were completely blameless. No matter what I might think about Kyle Rittenhouse’s actions or the wisdom of his decision to attend the protest with a weapon, the fact is, there’s evidence that he was being attacked by the men he shot. And that really weakens the prosecution’s case, in my view.

When I first heard about this case, I wondered what in the hell made Kyle Rittenhouse think his “services” were needed at a protest in another state? Why did he feel like he needed a weapon, when he was supposedly there to “help” protect property and tend to the injured? What was his mother thinking when she brought her 17 year old son to Kenosha and turned him loose on the streets?

According to an article published by the University of Rochester Medical Center, “the rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so.” Kyle, at age 18, still has several years to go before he’s “fully baked”. The article continues:

…recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.

In teens’ brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing—and not always at the same rate. That’s why when teens have overwhelming emotional input, they can’t explain later what they were thinking. They weren’t thinking as much as they were feeling.

I have read that Kyle Rittenhouse has been associating with white supremacists. Even if that’s true, I remember that he’s still a teenager, and is likely highly impressionable and impulsive. That doesn’t make his actions right, nor does it mean that I think he should get off “free and clear”. But I do think it mitigates his case somewhat. There must be a reason why Kyle Rittenhouse has ended up in this situation. There is a backstory that leads up to his decision to try to offer “help”, where clearly it wasn’t in his best interests to do so. Again, he’s still a teenager… and he obviously doesn’t yet have the more solid judgment or reasoning skills that most responsible adults have.

According to the NPR article I linked earlier in this post, a number of legal experts are saying that they think Kyle Rittenhouse will be acquitted of most of the charges. Prosecutors are now trying to get Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder to allow jurors to consider lesser charges. This is because the prosecution’s evidence has been as useful for the defense as it has been for the prosecution.

In fact, Gaige Grosskreutz, who, as the lone survivor, was supposed to be the prosecution’s “star witness”, has made several inconsistent statements. He’s also admitted that he was, himself, carrying a pistol on an expired permit on the evening Rittenhouse shot and wounded him.

Defense attorney, Corey Chirafisi, cross-examined Grosskreutz, and asked “It wasn’t until you pointed your gun at him — advanced on him with your gun, now your hands down, pointed at him — that he fired, right?”

And Mr. Grosskreutz responded, “Correct.” as one of the prosecutors put his head in his hands.

Yeah… I wouldn’t say that’s a good look for the prosecution. It doesn’t excuse the fact that Kyle Rittenhouse had no business being involved in the protest, but Grosskreutz doesn’t exactly inspire sympathy when he admits that he had a gun, too, and wasn’t carrying it legally.

Yikes.

Rittenhouse took the stand in his own defense, and sobbed so hard that Judge Schroeder called a recess. He testified that he reached for the rifle as “Rosenbaum chased him and reached for his rifle, as Huber struck him with the skateboard and as Grosskreutz advanced on him with the pistol.” Rittenhouse said that he feared for his life. Frankly, based on that description, and especially considering his age, I can’t blame him for being terrified that the three men might kill him.

When Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger cross-examined Rittenhouse, he asked, “You understand that when you point your AR-15 at someone, it may make them feel like you are going to kill them, correct?”

And Rittenhouse responded, “Mr. Rosenbaum was chasing me. I pointed my gun at him, and that did not deter him. He could have ran away instead of trying to take my gun from me, but he kept chasing me. It didn’t stop him,”

My guess, not having been there, but having personally experienced being hopped up on adrenaline, that none of the people involved in this altercation were thinking straight. They were probably all in a state of “fight or flight”, brought on by extreme fear, aggression, and an overload of testosterone and adrenaline.

Given that, I don’t see Kyle Rittenhouse as a cold-blooded murderer who is undeserving of mercy, even if I am personally disgusted by his politics, and I realize that he’s now killed two men. I also don’t believe that most people who commit serious crimes when they are minors should have their lives ruined. While I’m certain Kyle knew that killing is wrong and against the law, he didn’t, and still doesn’t, have the mind of an adult. He proved that his judgment wasn’t very sound when he decided to attend the protest alone, stayed out after curfew during a protest, lied about being an EMT, and carried a weapon that he wasn’t legally permitted to have.

But the case hasn’t gone very well for the prosecution, which is why they’re asking the judge to allow jurors to consider lesser charges. I think the lesser charges are probably reasonable, but based on what I’ve read about the judge, I have a feeling he might not allow it. He seems somewhat sympathetic to Rittenhouse. Edited to add, Bill says the judge is allowing the lesser charges to be considered. Of course, the final verdict is up to the jury.

Hmm… this doesn’t look so good for the prosecution.

It will be interesting to see what happens in this case. A verdict is expected next week. Based on what I’ve read, both about the case itself, and the judge involved, I have a feeling Mr. Rittenhouse will not be spending long years in prison, as a lot of people seem to hope he will. While I agree that he was wrong to kill two men and wound another, and he had absolutely NO BUSINESS being at the protest in the first place, I don’t think he should rot in prison. I also hope he wises up about the right wing white supremacist types who have championed his cause. If he continues to hang around with them, there’s a good chance he will end up in trouble again. And the next time, the case against him might be much more compelling.

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true crime

Kenosha Killer Kyle Rittenhouse is out of jail… and he has Ricky Schroder, in part, to thank for it…

2020 has certainly been an *odd* year. Never did I believe, just twelve months ago, that I’d be cringing with so much disgust about so many things. I didn’t write yesterday because I was feeling really cranky. I decided to put up all the Christmas decorations instead, and that took a couple of hours. After that, I just didn’t feel like writing. However, I did post a few comments on news stories. I often regret commenting on stories, but sometimes I can’t help myself.

I ended up blocking one guy with “correctile dysfunction”, who kept trying to mansplain the morality of being pro-life while also being pro-death penalty. Another post, about a wonderful, warm hearted Italian baker who was putting out free bread to feed the hungry in Milan, left me in tears. The baker got COVID-19 and the virus killed him. A third story, about people who got COVID-19 while on an 18 hour flight from Dubai to New Zealand left me feeling disgusted.

A woman who clearly hadn’t read the article, wrote a scolding comment about “manning up” and wearing a mask. The people on the flight were wearing masks and gloves. Several of them got sick, anyway, which is bound to happen, whether or not people are wearing masks.

Sorry, but face masks are not a panacea against the coronavirus. Wearing them slows down the rate of infections. It doesn’t stop them cold. Many people do not wear the masks properly or change them as often as they should. Wearing a mask for eighteen hours on a plane is sheer lunacy, anyway. I don’t think long haul flights like that should be allowed until there’s a vaccine. And frankly, I’m tired of people judging and scolding others about COVID-19. People need to tend to their own business, and they should read before they comment on news articles. I mentioned I was feeling cranky, right? This COVID-19 stuff along with my hormones are really doing a number on my disposition and patience.

But then, just as I was about to turn off the news and enjoy the rest of my Saturday with Bill, I read about how actor Ricky Schroder contributed $150,000 to help bail teenaged killer Kyle Rittenhouse out of jail. Yep… in a world where people have lost their jobs due to the hellacious happenings of 2020– in a world where an Italian baker was putting out free bread for the hungry because people really needed it– Ricky Schroder thinks donating $150,000 to a bail fund for a known killer is a worthwhile thing to do.

Well, it’s his money… And I know that despite how many of my friends and classmates thought Ricky was adorable in the 1980s, he’s grown up to be quite the conservative freakazoid. Earlier today, I reposted an article I wrote in 2017 about Ricky and his family– ex Mormons who have evidently turned into poster children for the word “vapid” and made their own reality show about “Growing Up Supermodel”. In 2019, I wrote about Ricky’s older daughter, Cambrie, who is gorgeous but has issues with her dad. I seemed to have come away with a more favorable opinion of Cambrie in 2019.

Before yesterday, I knew Ricky Schroder voted Republican and has conservative values. I know Kyle Rittenhouse’s case is a bit complicated, too. Here he is, a seventeen year old guy, just on the brink of legal adulthood, living in Antioch, Illinois. All year, there’s been chaos. We’ve had rioting, protesting, political unrest, and a pandemic. I’m not in America right now, so it’s hard for me to judge the overall mood of life there. I can say that as an American abroad, I assume that people of all stripes are feeling restless and uneasy in America. Some people probably feel scared and helpless. Guns make them feel better and “safer” somehow.

Kyle Rittenhouse is a young man in the heart of America. He felt the need to carry a weapon to a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, even though he’s a minor. He says he was there to help protect businesses from looters after protests erupted when Kenosha police shot Jacob Blake in the back, paralyzing him. Rittenhouse was supposedly there to act as a medic, and help clean up.

Perhaps Rittenhouse really did think it was his civic duty to cross state lines on August 25th of this year, and get involved in a protest that led to him killing two people and injuring another. But the fact is, he should not have been involved. It wasn’t his business.

Kyle’s mom defends him.

Rittenhouse was too young to buy a rifle. He had an adult friend do it for him, using money he got from the government’s stimulus program. He had “plans” to apply for a firearm owner’s ID card so he could keep the gun legally, but evidently, he hadn’t done that at the time of the crime. Rittenhouse also needed a ride to the protest, which was provided by his mom. Kyle reportedly wanted to be a police officer. He carried a medical kit with him wherever he went. He was allegedly trying to “help” when he went to the protest in Kenosha. Instead, he wound up on camera, shooting people. He claims it was “self-defense”. My question is, what the hell was he doing there in the first place?

So Kyle’s dream was to be a police officer. Why didn’t he stay in Illinois and work toward making that dream come true, rather than taking it upon himself to get involved with a protest in another state? Where did he get the idea that he needed to bring a weapon to the protest? Even if he meant to be “helpful”, it wasn’t legal for him to purchase the gun. And he probably wasn’t trained in dealing with protests. It was a foolish idea that may cost him his freedom.

Of course, right now he’s out of jail, thanks to Ricky Schroder and the CEO of My Pillow, Mike Lindell, who helped raise the $2 million to get him out of the pokey. While I’m not sure I believe Kyle Rittenhouse is a hardened criminal who needs to be locked up forever, I do think that he stuck his nose where it clearly didn’t belong. He made a terrible mistake that cost people their lives. And I find the below tweet very interesting and telling…

“God bless ALL who donated to help #FightBack raise required $2M cash bail. Special thanks to Actor Ricky Schroder @rickyshroder1 & Mike Lindell @realMikeLindell for putting us over the top. Kyle is SAFE. Thanks to ALL who helped this boy,”

Notice that in the tweet, Rittenhouse is referred to as a “boy”. If he’s a boy, then he had no business attending a protest in another state, especially armed. He needed more adult supervision, particularly since it’s obvious that he has an obsession with weapons and Donald Trump. One would hope that by age 17, most young people would have more wisdom and insight than Kyle did. But his actions only prove that he still has a whole lot of growing up to do. Unfortunately, he may be doing it in prison. At the very least, it’s likely that his dream of being a cop will never come to fruition. But at least he has a friend in Ricky Schroder. I know back in the 1980s, some people would have thought that would be really cool.

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