Kyle Rittenhouse is a free man. A jury of his peers found him not guilty on five counts under Wisconsin law. As an American who believes in our system, I’ve accepted that. In fact, I think the jury did a remarkable, disciplined, rational and patriotic job.
Understand, the jury did not find him “innocent,” as so many on social media are describing him.
Those who seek to lionize Rittenhouse and proclaim him a hero are shameless opportunists and panderers. There is nothing heroic or even remotely laudable about him.
No wonder Trump and The Cult have embraced him. They routinely embrace lawless punks who are not remotely laudable.
Rittenhouse is a free man. But he is by no stretch or definition a hero. And those who would try to make him a hero are not patriots or advancers of “American values” or “freedom fighters.” They’re Cultists.
I need to clear this up. I’m reading numerous social media posts saying, “Rittenhouse is going to be a rich man after he sues…” fill in the blank.
That statement is half right. Sadly, Rittenhouse is going to be a rich man, because he will be used by right-wing crazies. Yes, Kyle is going to the bank.
But none of that money will come from legal awards for “libel” or “slander.” Because he will receive none. Because any suit he or his supporters may file has no legal merit or standing. Rittenhouse has neither been libeled nor slandered.
Here’s how this works under American media law and the First Amendment, which historically moves freedom of the press to the front of the freedom parade. (You have to remember what was going on at the time the Constitution was written, and the recent experiences of the folks who wrote it.)
Kyle Rittenhouse took actions to make himself a public figure. That right there invalidates many if not most libel or slander claims. The actions Rittenhouse took then became a white-hot political issue. That removes pretty much any remaining slander or libel claims. Political free speech is at the tip of our Constitutional free speech spear.
Beyond that, for Rittenhouse to win any libel or slander suit, he’d first have to prove that a media outlet lied about him. Then he’d have to prove that the media outlet knew it was lying about him, and lied about him anyway. Then he’d have to prove the media outlet lied about him for the specific purpose of damaging him. Then he’d have to prove that Rittenhouse was in fact damaged, tangibly, as a direct result of the pre-meditated lies said or written about him by that media outlet.
Understand, it would not be enough for him to prove any one, or even several of these things. (Not that he could prove any of them. Because they’re false.) He would have to prove ALL of them.
Kyle Rittenhouse will get rich. But he’ll get rich being used as a pawn by right-wing snake oil salesmen.
If anything, Rittenhouse will have “the meedja” to thank for his financial windfall.