STORYLINE CONQUERS KENOSHA: What name would we call Kyle Rittenhouse?


For starters, we'll go with "teenager:" For starters, we'll admit an embarrassing fact:

We aren't inclined to agree with, or to affirm, Dana Milbank's latest name-calling.

In this case, the name-calling is directed at Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who we'd regard as one of the least constructive members of Congress. The name-calling starts in the headline to Milbank's new column for the Washington Post.

That headline announces this:

Lauren Boebert is what George W. Bush called the ‘worst of humankind’

Is Boebert "the worst of humankind?" We wouldn't be inclined to voice that kind of judgment—to engage in that type of name-calling—with respect to Boebert, who we regard as one of the least constructive, helpful or insightful members of Congress. 

As his column proceeds, Milbank calls Boebert and her running-dogs an array of other names. (They're bigots, they're clowns, they're haters.) 

Early in comments, a member of our own infallible tribe gives voice to the not-so-secret assessment which frequently lurks behind the scenes at such times. The unnamed though fiery commenter extends the name-calling thusly:

To be fair, bo-bo also responds to "uneducated white racist trash."

When we start with "the worst of humankind," we may tend to drift toward name-calling of that highly familiar type. According to experts, this is the road to our species' endless wars, in which quite a few people have died.

As a general matter, we'd be disinclined to name-call Boebert, who we regard as tending to have extremely poor judgment. We'd also be disinclined to name-call Kyle Rittenhouse, who was found "not guilty" on all five counts in his recent criminal trial.

Last week, we noted the fact that a bit of name-calling had emerged from Charles Blow. In a column in the New York Times, Blow used the term "vigilante" thirteen separate times, scattered through twelve different paragraphs, in a column about Rittenhouse. 

The term "vigilantism" appeared two additional times. Rittenhouse wasn't just identified as a "vigilante," but as a "white vigilante" at that. 

He was also identified as a "murderer," despite his acquittal on all counts.

Is or was Rittenhouse a "vigilante," even a white vigilante? We wouldn't be inclined to say that.

In an email, a friend who seemed to disagree asked us what else we would call him. For today, we'll start with the word "teenager," though we may proceed onward from there as the week proceeds.

Rittenhouse was 17 at the time of the conduct for which he was put on trial. People who are 17 often show extremely poor judgment, though we don't think it's obvious that Rittenhouse did on that unfortunate night.

At any rate, we'll start with "teenager," then move on from there. As we do, we'll discuss the way Storyline conquered Kenosha.

How did Storyline conquer Kenosha? In our view, it accomplished that task in the now-typical way:

Our nation's fueling red and blue tribes began constructing different accounts of what happened that day and that night. To cite just one example:

One side says Rittenhouse took a gun "to a protest." The other side says he took a gun to a used car lot.

The standard process proceeds from there, with the two tribes picking and choosing which facts to cite, even to stress, and which facts to disappear. We will continue to offer this highly instructive assessment:

In our view, this was a case in which viewers of Fox were exposed to more information than we liberals were. Here's the way it seems to us:

On CNN and MSNBC, more information got left behind!

In the next few days, we'll expose you to some of the information which our tribe tended to disappear. By the time our tribunes got done, Rittenhouse was a vigilante (and a murderer), and also sometimes the latest example of uneducated white racist trash.

We tend to name-call The Others that way. Our tribe has always behaved that way. In our view, it isn't our tribe's finest impulse—or its most constructive.

What kinds of information were we denied on CNN and MSNBC? In the New York Times?

Tomorrow, we'll start with information about what was happening in Kenosha on the days and evenings in question. Actually, all the information we were denied can be fit under that general rubric, so for now we'll leave it right there.

In this particular instance, we'd have to say that viewers of Fox were exposed to more information than we liberals were. In our view, a large amount of information was withheld from liberal eyes and ears. 

This was done in service to preferred Storyline—and in the end, it seems to us that Storyline conquered Kenosha.

Increasingly, this is the way our failing tribe has tended to function over the course of the past dozen years. That doesn't make us "liberal fascists," but it isn't the best way to play.

Teenagers often show poor judgment. (So do "cable news" stars.)

Did Rittenhouse show poor judgment that night? Did he act as a "vigilante?"

When people aren't given a full range of information, they can't make balanced judgments about such questions. Instead, we may tend to do what we humans have always done:

We may tend to call The Others names as we march off, singing our songs, to our latest tribal war.

Tomorrow: What Nellie Bowles says she saw


  1. Rittenhouse: "Economic genius of the Right".

  2. Today Bob made a funny typo, substituting "fueling" for "dueling".

  3. We feel that under the circumstances there's nothing wrong with "vigilante", dear Bob.

    Where the police are defunded and enfeebled by your liberal-hitlerian "species", vigilantes are our only hope.

    Call them 'neighborhood watch', 'crime watch', 'militia', or 'vigilantes', the essence is the same: ordinary citizens protecting their towns against liberal thugs.

  4. Mao the troll (I called him a name!) thinks the Kenosha cops were defunded and enfeebled.

    Here are some words of wisdom from Kevin Drum:

    1. Mao, like Bob, is a sucker for Right-wing lies.

    2. That's fine that Drum makes that rather obvious observation and recommendation, but he is hardly the first, and I can guess where he got it from.

      Similarly, Rittenhouse's life was going nowhere, he too wanted recognition, and he too was willing to bait and then turn around and attack.

      How we address right wing moral failings and servility to authoritarianism is assiduously avoided by Somerby; he'd rather note how we literally address right wingers - an issue of zero value.

  5. Caesar - Drum has a good point, but I don't see its relationship to your first sentence.

    Kenosha cops were ordered not to stop the riots, but rather to stand down. Som, they were "enfeebled".

    P.S. many liberals also exist solely to say outrageous things that will get them a hit

    1. “ Kenosha cops were ordered not to stop the riots, but rather to stand down.”

      Not true.

    2. "Gov. Tony Evers called in the National Guard on Aug. 24, and the guardsmen arrived the same day. The Rittenhouse shooting happened the following day, Aug. 25."


    3. "Caesar - Drum has a good point, but I don't see its relationship to your first sentence."

      The relationship to Mao's remark is that Drum is advocating that we stop paying attention when conservatives throw bombs to get attention. Mao is on the list with Greene, Boebert etc., because he is a troll.

    4. David yesterday you made a false claim about home schooling, today a false claim about cops.

      Why do you struggle with telling the truth?

  6. R the teenager killed 2 unarmed men. This is an extreme act, and was hardly necessary.

    1. FDR, you were such a great president, maybe too old now to run again, though I wish the dems could again come up with someone of your caliber. And you're right he did kill 2 unarmed men, albeit one was a just released mental patient who, in the middle of a chaotic scene, was chasing Rittenhouse and lunged at him; and the other had thrown a skate board at him, knocking him down, and leveled a flying kick at him. Was shooting them "necessary?" - I don't think that's quite the legal standard. Maybe if he hadn't shot them, they would have beat the shit out of him. The standard is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, not guilt because that serves an ideological purpose.

    2. If either party came up with someone of FDR's caliber, they likely wouldn't recognize his potential. FDR was the most hated president, as well as the most loved (by Democrats, need I say?).

      That mental patient threw a bag of underwear and sandwiches at Rittenhouse, who then panicked.

      If Rittenhouse had put down his gun, no one would have been hurt, including Rittenhouse. Go look up how many people at that riot had the shit beaten out of them.

      There is a legal standard and there is a moral one. You should perhaps ask a commenter which one he is talking about. In the eyes of God, do you think Rittenhouse behaved the way Jesus would have? Did he even meet the MLK standard of guilt? I think he met the Proud Boys standard, which is about likelihood of starting the boogaloo race war.

    3. From Wikipedia:

      "Death(s) Two protesters shot and killed
      1 protester shot and hospitalized
      1 police officer hospitalized
      1 firefighter hospitalized[2]
      1 individual for two counts of first degree murder[3]
      2 individuals initially for illegal firearms possession[4]"

      Notice that there are no people listed as hospitalized because they had the shit beaten out of them.

  7. They are bigots, clowns, and haters. He left out morons.
    These are not nice things to call people, but when it's the truth.....

  8. This is the network that Somerby thinks we will get better information from:

    "Americans across the country are furious at Fox News after its top primetime host compared Dr. Anthony Fauci to Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and one of its well-known commentators and hosts compared the top infectious disease doctor to Nazi “Angel of Death” Dr. Josef Mengele – both on the first full day of Hanukkah.

    Fox Nation host Lara Logan during a Fox News primetime show Monday night said of Dr. Fauci, “this is what people say to me, that he doesn’t represent science to them, he represents Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who did experiments on Jews during the Second World War and in the concentration camps.”

    1. Eh... exsqueeze me, dear dembot, but what does Dr. Anthony Fauci being, allegedly, a modern-day Mengele have to do with Hanukkah? We know you're retarded, but are you also nuts?

      And, leaving aside your zombie hatred of Fox News, do you, dembots, care if Mr Fauci indeed is -- or is not -- a modern-day Mengele? We reckon that as long as the fella is your cult's Demigod, you really don't care.

    2. Murder by hoax?

    3. Yeah, right. Definitely. To insult the Jews living inside your head, dear dembot.

  9. Somerby's claim that Rittenhouse represents the poor judgment of teenagers is an insult to the huge majority of teens who do not go around shooting unarmed men and killing people.

  10. Oh goody! Tomorrow, Somerby is promising to argue that Rittenhouse's actions were justified because a lot of small businesses suffered property damage!

    1. We are told that Somerby is contemplating Thoreau when he sits beneath his pear tree, but he is actually standing guard!

  11. Here is a fact that Somerby keeps hiding from his readers.

    vigilante -- definition: "a member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate"

    No one asked Rittenhouse to defend property but he joined a self-appointed group of men who were doing so. No one asked Rittenhouse to be a "medic" but he told people he was serving in that capacity anyway (without training or experience). Rittenhouse was there acting in law enforcement's capacity without the authority to do so. The cops even acknowledged that as they greeted him and the others he was with. The conservatives have been arguing that the police presence at the riot was insufficient (or that they were absent or not enforcing the law.

    What part of this definition do Rittenhouse's actions not fulfill?

    When Somerby says that it is name-calling to refer to Rittenhouse as a vigilante, he ignores the aptness of the term as a description of what Rittenhouse does, pretending it is just name-calling. Somerby is wrong, but more than that, he has a vested interest in defending Rittenhouse and pretending that liberals do not know what words mean.

    Somerby is dishonest and he is not discussing anything in good faith today. He hasn't been in a long time. He doesn't read his comments, so there is no way to hold him accountable for his words, but this blog is nothing more than disinformation and shilling for conservatives, Fox News, and defending both the alt-right and its wrongdoers, like the vigilantes who got two unarmed men killed in Kenosha.

    I am sick of Somerby's lies. He is no better than Rush, Alex Jones, Mark Levin, and the rest of the conservative chorus feeding the unwary propaganda in the guise of wising them up. You have to be majorly dumb not to see what is going on here.

    1. Bob should hire a media critic, and turn TDH into a media criticism blog.

  12. Kyle Rittenhouse is a murderer, no matter what the jury verdict. He killed two unarmed men and wounded a third who was trying to stop him from killing more people.

    It doesn't matter that he was 17 years old or playing medic. He had an illegal weapon and placed himself in a situation that he obviously couldn't handle competently. And he murdered people as a result.

    That isn't name-calling. It is telling the truth.

  13. Kyle Rittenhouse took on the Right-wing lie that feelings don't matter, and won.

  14. To Somerby a duck is never a duck, it is always a swan...unless it's a "liberal" swan, in which case it is a vulture.

    It is repugnant to refer to Rittenhouse as just a "teenager" with "poor judgment", as Somerby does. He is a lost soul.

    Somerby notes that Rittenhouse was found not guilty, while obfuscating that that is only a happenstance due to that particular jury. Only about 40% of Americans support that verdict, about the same percent that are Republicans - had different jurors served, Rittenhouse would have likely been found guilty. Rittenhouse is not the first guilty murderer to go scot-free, but Somerby wants to pretend that does not happen (and it pretty much only happens to white people).

    If you are going to make sweeping criticisms of a tribe, you should not hang your argument on saying incredibly dumb things:

    "One side says Rittenhouse took a gun "to a protest." The other side says he took a gun to a used car lot."

    That used car lot was there for years, Rittenhouse never showed up until there was a protest; therefore, the side that says "to a protest" is the only side that is arguing in good faith.

    It gets worse:

    "When we start with "the worst of humankind," we may tend to drift toward name-calling of that highly familiar type. According to experts, this is the road to our species' endless wars, in which quite a few people have died."

    No expert has ever made this claim. wars are fought over resources, not name calling.

    Somerby wants you to think that "liberals" know less about the Rittenhouse murders than Republicans, but if he continues to explore the case in his blog, he will find that his commenters know a lot more about the case than Republicans, and even himself.

    1. I'm a democrat, have always been one. I don't recall ever voting for a republican. I'm also a trial lawyer, and have been one for a long time. The spin that you echo here is really way off base and biased to the extreme. You are not objective in the slightest. From what I can tell, Rittenhouse got a fair trial; the prosecution had a weak case. I'm sad to see so much irrational reaction to this trial from what is supposed to be the good side. Your claim that TDH has "lost his soul" based on his calling Rittenhouse a teenager with bad judgment as opposed to a "vigilante" is ridiculous. You know sometimes there is more than one side to a story, and legitimate arguments can be made from both sides. Even if you disagree with TDH, he makes legitimate points (as he usually does) while you seem to be a zealot incapable of applying reason.

    2. AC/MA, you may be an excellent trial lawyer, but no one gets to pull rank during a discussion because of some real world qualification that no one can verify. That means you need to argue from facts or logic, but not from authority.

      I agree that Somerby has lost his soul. You apparently disagree. So what?

      No matter what was argued at Rittenhouse's trial, the fact remains that he shot two unarmed men and killed them, and then shot a third man who was trying to stop him. That action has nothing to do with typical teenage behavior or judgement.

      The rest of your comment is more name-calling -- you call the commenter an unreasonable zealot. That's the resort of someone who has no facts or logic to apply to a difference of opinion.

      The reason why so many people are insisting that Rittenhouse is guilty, is because we all saw it on goddamn video. You aren't going to convince people he didn't do what he plainly did. The question the court considered was whether to hold him responsible for his actions. But this is not a typical teen peccadillo. It is a major and important crime -- taking someone's life on purpose. I think it should have a stronger penalty than being forced to visit Mar a Lago to hobnob with Trump.

    3. I'm a Republican and a law professor, and from what I can tell, your argument against 4:00pm is basically to stick your tongue out at them.

      Lawyers do not decide verdicts, just plain old citizens do, and only a minority of those agree with your assessment of the trial. Furthermore, your assessment seems to be biased because your earlier description of what happened (your comment at 5:33) is grossly inaccurate.

      Unlike Somerby, 4:00pm actually makes legitimate points, I may not fully agree with all of them. but the point is well made that Somerby's arguments are specious at best.

      4:00pm does not make the argument that Rittenhouse is a vigilante, although well they could; they seem to be saying that Rittenhouse is a murderer.

      Listen, you can type words, but they do not inherently have any meaning or weight. Frankly I am amazed at your claims, they are full of internal contradictions.

      My verdict on you is: you are full of beans and you argue in bad faith.

      My verdict on the Rittenhouse trial, it was an attempt to decriminalize murder for white people.

      As irritating as dumpster fires are, I will take them all day long over the fascism shown by the Rittenhouse murders/trial and the current Republican Party,

    4. Young vigilante Rittenhouse shot three random peaceful liberal protesters - and all three of them turned out to be convicted criminals!

      Tsk, what's the chance of that, eh?

      Amazing, nicht wahr?

    5. Nice one "Professor" - but with due deference to your superior learning when it comes to the law, the plain old citizens who decide verdicts, are the plain old citizens who sit on the actual jury, and 100% of them reached the not guilty verdict.

    6. 11:36

      Just like the jury reached a not guilty verdict in the Emmett Till trial.

      Oof, your comment gets an F, probably not your first.

  15. Nellie Bowles is the life partner of Bari Weiss. She too was fired from the NY Times for being ridiculous in her job as a journalist. That should tell you all you need to know about where she is coming from in the article that Somerby hypes for tomorrow.

  16. Bob would be disinclined to engage in that kind of name calling. He’ll use his own type.

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