The five worst high-profile takes on the Rittenhouse verdict

Nov 24th

As the dust is beginning to settle on the Kyle Rittenhouse trial and media vultures have taken flight to dutifully scour the landscape for the next tragic scene to feast upon, I thought it would be worthwhile to compile a list of the five most pernicious social media responses to the jury's "not guilty" verdict.

The reason I say it's worthwhile is two-fold. First, sunlight is the best disinfectant. There are a great number of people who do not use social media and are thus blissfully unaware of too many of the dangerous lies and misinformation that spreads there. The more people who become aware of the bad ideas, the more people will be actively rebuking them – perhaps even when the topic comes up (unfortunately) at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Second, shame is a powerful tool. To be sure, I don't mean to commend shaming someone for who they are, but rather shaming the bad things that they do. A couple decades observing our culture with a critical eye convinces me that our collective inability to feel shame has resulted not only in an epidemic of narcissism, but also opened the door to dreadfully immoral conduct by individuals emboldened by society's new tolerance for lawlessness and impropriety.

I'd also like to stipulate that there are undoubtedly worse takes out there, but exposure to dreadful tweets is largely dependent upon your own circle. So perhaps I should refer to this as the five most ignorant tweets I came across following the Rittenhouse verdict.

5. Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal.

I admit that there were sadly a number of other actors to chose from, like Mark Ruffalo, who affectionately referred to the slain Joseph Rosenbaum as "JoJo." But Pascal (he/him) not only incorrectly characterized their deaths as murders given that both initiated the confrontation and escalated the situation that led to their own deaths, but he also sympathetically memorialized violent, depraved criminals. Telling a man who anally raped children to "rest in peace" is quite the flex, even for Hollywood.

4. Actress Reese Witherspoon.

Advocating for public safety is always appreciated, unless you have a history of endangering it yourself. Given that Witherspoon's husband was arrested in 2013 for driving with a blood alcohol content that was nearly twice the legal limit, and given that the actress harassed the arresting officers and threatened, "You're about to find out who I am," it might have been advised for her to sit this one out.

3. Podcaster and columnist Jemele Hill.

Anytime there's a list being compiled of bad or humiliating hot takes on issues, you can rest assured that Hill will appear on it. To be clear, I grasp the grift here. I understand that Hill gets paid to say provocative and racist things that generate anger and attention. But this is giving up the ghost if I've ever seen it. Three white men with criminal histories attempted to kill Rittenhouse on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin. According to the video evidence and the verdict of an impartial jury Rittenhouse shot them, killing two, in self-defense. How white supremacy plays any part in this equation is any rational person's guess.

2. Sociologist and college professor Andrew Whitehead.

Whenever you want to remember how bad the ideological environment is on college campuses, you never have to look far. Here, Prof. Whitehead alleges that Rittenhouse committed "vigilante murder." But that's not at all what the evidence showed or that the videos depicted, or that the jury decided. Vigilante murder usually assumes a previous relationship and involves, well, murder. Neither of those conditions were met in the Rittenhouse case.

Further, upon what grounds does Whitehead consider ours a "Christian nation?" Was this an attempt at irony, a slap at religious conservatives, or a sincere swing-and-miss from an alleged scholar in human relationships and institutions? Whatever the case, it was wildly confused. Ours is not a Christian nation, whether legally, doctrinally, philosophically, or demographically.

1. NBC anchor and former First Lady of California Maria Shriver.

Talk about low-hanging fruit. How Shriver, a member of the Kennedy family, could not have spent just a few more seconds to take personal inventory before tweeting this, I don't know. Shriver is the niece of former U.S. Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy who infamously left a young Mary Jo Kopechne to drown at Chappaquiddick, after he wrecked the car drunk, escaped, stumbled home, and slept it off. Anyone from the Kennedy family asking how someone could dodge getting "charged for anything," is at the height of tone-deafness.

But beyond that, the question isn't even a good one because the answer is obvious. Rittenhouse wasn't convicted because of evidence, testimony, video evidence, and the verdict of an impartial jury. Senator Ted Cruz rattled off a Twitter-thread of his own to help Shriver understand.

That about covers it. Oh, and one final point – Maria's youngest son is 24 years old. How does he not understand how due process works and need to ask his mom for clarity?

Remember, these were only the social media takes I witnessed that made this list. Had verbal commentary from news anchors, sports reporters, and other media entities been included, you'd still be reading this article well into next week.

I understand that we live in the era of hot takes, where everyone can immediately share every knee-jerk reaction and unthoughtful impulse that crosses their cranial synapses. When you combine that with the impassioned feelings associated with explosive topics like race, riots, and guns in 2021 America, you're asking for trouble.

Still, a simple modicum of common sense could go a long way for many, including those I've highlighted in this list who have such large followings. America doesn't get better until we do better.


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