Before "vigilante," it was "crossing state lines!"


The way we humans function: Sensible people weep for the impulses of our war-inclined species. 

And remember, it's all anthropology now! Disconsolate experts all insist there's no way out of the mess.

Last Friday's ReidOut show was a tough program to watch. Professor Johnson was guest-hosting. He started things off like this:

JOHNSON (11/18/21): We begin The ReidOut tonight with yet another judicial gut punch. 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, a militia man wannabe who crossed state lines and killed two human beings at a Black Lives Matter rally, was found not guilty on all five counts.

Rittenhouse has crossed state lines and killed two human beings. Apparently, it would have been fine if he'd done it in his own state.

In fact, Kenosha is in the southern end of Wisconsin, near the Illinois line. Rittenhouse had gone to his lifeguard job in Kenosha County the previous day, then had spent the night in Kenosha with his best friend.

Rittenhouse crossed states lines every day when he went to his lifeguard job! But now, as we looked for something to say, we kept repeating the utterly pointless though vaguely incriminating phrase.

Our human race is actually like this. This is secretly what we're like.

The professor threw to Joy Reid, reporting in by remote. As Reid discussed the judicial gut punch, she too played the pointless card:

REID: But what I am concerned about is the precedent this sets for what people will believe that they can do under law when Black Lives Matter protests happen in the future. And that people may use this as an excuse to go out-of-state and do what this teenager did, believing that they'll get away with it, and in some cases, getting away with it.

In Reid's view, more people might decide to travel "out of state" and do what Rittenhouse did! If they would simply stay in their home state and do it, it would be A-OK.

The next person to play the card was someone we've long admired. He's very smart, and he has am excellent sense of humor. But even he went along:

SHARPTON: This is a very, very serious problem for activism because now we're being told that someone can cross state lines with a semiautomatic rifle and kill people and say it's self-defense and they have this case to cite as saying that I'm like Rittenhouse. 

It isn't the fact that people kill people. The problem is the fact that they do it after they cross state lines!

Before this remarkable opening segment was done, Elie Mystal had also played the card. In fairness, he sanded the card way down, saying only that Rittenhouse had "shot two people in the street" after he "came outside of his community."

When we humans have nothing to say, we agree to say things like this. At times of heightened tribal conflict, the things we say don't have to make sense. It's just that everyone has to say them.  They serve as tribal code.

So it had gone, earlier on, when Professor Johnson tried to explain what was wrong with the judicial gut punch we had just endured. This is what he said:

JOHNSON: The first thing that occurred to me after this ruling is, "Oh, well, okay, now it's just open season." Like if I'm walking around and I'm a white nationalist, you know, coward little kid with an AR-15, and I see someone drive by with a Black Lives Matter bumper sticker and I feel threatened, I can open fire

If I go by a youth group standing outside a local Target and they're chanting, "Black lives matter," and I feel threatened, I can open fire. 

It was good propaganda, but is that what Rittenhouse actually did? Did he simply see a bumper sticker and decide to open fire? Did he simply hear someone chanting? Is there really any chance that the professor really believes that? 

This is the way our own failing tribe is currently behaving. We're losing, losing, losing, losing, and we just aren't sharp enough to know what we should do or say or think.

On the bright side, if everyone says the same handful of things all day long and into the night, the rest of us won't understand how much we aren't being told. We'll come to believe that someone decided to open fire for exactly zero reason, after crossing state lines.

There's a great deal we liberals haven't been told about this matter on MSNBC and on CNN. In this particular case, people were actually exposed to much more information if they were watching Fox.

On the ReidOut program, we liberals were told that he crossed state lines, then decided to open fire. We weren't told a whole lot more. That was all we needed to hear.

By today, everyone knows to say the word "vigilante" over and over and over. Before that, though, it was "crossing state lines."

This is the way our species is built. It's the actual way we are. It's the way we create our wars. It's the way we humans "reason."

These two were also giants: Later, Malcolm Nance and Dean Obeidallah jumped on the tribal train too:

NANCE: What he did, by his very action of going out, going to a protest across state lines, being within a group of armed men, performing what they call the Korean on the rooftop, right, defending a position, whether it's a business or other, where they were not invited, and then getting into this fight where he killed two men and wounded a third, that is now the template on how to protest against Antifa or Black Lives Matter or any other person that they consider in the white supremacy world race traitors.


OBEIDALLAH: It tells people, "Hey, if there's a Black Lives Matter movement protest in the next state, get your AR, drive over. If you fear anyone, kill them. Go on the stand. Repeat what Kyle did. Cry on cue. And you walk.

He'd gone to a protest across state lines! He was in the next state!

Nance came dangerously close to explaining why Rittenhouse was actually there that night—and if we want to be honest about it, he wasn't exactly "at a protest." We aren't saying whether he should have been there—but within our tribe, the rule has been clear:

You aren't supposed to explain why he was there at all. Please don't ever do that!

Nance came close to breaking the rule. Eventually, though, he and Obeidallah agreed. If he'd done what he did without crossing state lines, it would have been A-OK! 

(This is the way our self-impressed species actually functions. Remember, it's all anthropology now!)


  1. Nice post, dear Bob, and thank you, as always, for documenting this tiny potion of the liberal atrocities.

    However: "When we humans have nothing to say, we agree to say things like this."

    No, dear Bob, we humyns don't say things like this. Because, unlike the dembots you quote, we have brains and we have dignity.

  2. "18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, a militia man wannabe who crossed st"ate lines and killed two human beings at a Black Lives Matter rally, was found not guilty on all five counts.

    This is all true. Then Somerby asks if it would have been OK if he had done this in his home state. Of course it wouldn't have been.

    The point of saying "crossed state lines" is not because there is something magical about that state line, but to emphasize that Rittenhouse went to that riot with a gun in order to shoot people. He said so, before he went, but that info wasn't allowed to be heard by the jury. He went there because he was called to action by a militia that he followed on the internet. He deliberately took a gun with him. None of that was accidental and none of it was justified. A responsible parent would have intervened. A cop should have intervened. And then Rittenhouse shot several people.

    Somerby thinks that info should be minimized because, although he did cross state lines, that border was close to his home in Antioch IL. Does that make anything that happened subsequently OK? Clearly not. So why is Somerby making such a huge deal out of this? Because he wants to muddy the water and throw doubt on whether Rittenhouse's acquittal was justified. Liberals say he should have been convicted, conservatives want to call him innocent (which is not the same as "not guilty"). None of that hinges on whether he crossed a state line or not.

    But Johnson and Reid were not wrong when they said he crossed a state line. He did that.

  3. Crossing state lines is a shorthand way of saying that scattered milita members can be called together at any locality to engage in violence. This is like what happened on 1/6, where Trump supporters from all over the country assembled in response to social media call-outs.

    That is what these various people mean when they talk about crossing state lines. Somerby is taking this very literally, excessively literally, when he focuses only on the state line and its proximity to Rittenhouse's home in Illinois, and disregards that the problem is travel by militia members from all over, to engage in violence at local protests. This is what happened in Charlottesville too, at the Unite the Right rally.

    Does Somerby not understand the concern that every protest organized by the left may become a violent clash because the alt-right is itching for boogaloo? And now that Rittenhouse has set a precedent by being excused for his actions, which were deemed self-defense by a Trump supporting judge, the fear is that more members of the left will be killed in cold blood while exercising their 1st Amendment rights, and then let off because they claim to have been scared.

    Somerby pretends not to understand this concern. He doesn't address it at all. He only quibbles over the distance from Antioch to Kenosha, as if Rittenhouse were just in the neighborhood and caught unawares by the scene around him, instead of going there for the purpose of engaging in violence with protesters and/or rioters.

    The liars on the right think they are very clever with this subterfuge. Somerby comes across as just dumb as rocks as he pretends to misunderstand what this is about. This kind of crap on Somerby's part makes me despise him more. Because in all of this game-playing, he doesn't acknowledge that two men are dead and one maimed, because a 17 year old didn't know how to handle himself at a riot and no one stopped him from going there.

    1. Corby, some of us were concerned in 2020 about the people who crossed state lines and burnt down city neighborhoods and tried to injure policemen.

      You and the media, not so much.

      Some of were concerned when “protesters” showed up outside of the Republican convention and threaten Rand Paul and his wife and other attendees.

      Some of us thought it didn’t bode well for the future when people were physically attacked for wearing MAGA apparel or when conservative opinionaters or pols were shouted out of public places.

      You and the media, not so much.

      Some of us worry about living in a country where the threat of riots is a lauded, encouraged, and legitimate political tool of our cultural elites.

      You and the media…

      Here’s a point made by attorney, Andrew McCarthy, about the scope of trials and about a conversation you say that you want, but you don’t want really.

      What you do want, whether it be with bloggers or people threatened on the street, is that all things go your way, in word and in deed. What you want is complete obeisance.

      “In the Rittenhouse trial — in what I continue to believe is a case that should never have been a criminal prosecution — the state did not meet its burden. That narrow finding is critical, and the jury made it.

      Still, the trial has very little to tell us about the unrest on the streets, what caused it. It doesn’t address how the government dealt with, or rather was derelict in, its duty to provide security. It has nothing to say about prudential or moral questions unrelated to the proof vel non of charged crimes — e.g., should Kyle Rittenhouse have been on the violent scene in Kenosha that night, should he have been armed, and what does the fact that we can’t agree on these questions — indeed, can’t even seem to discuss them civilly much of the time — portend for our society? Nothing, because we’ve always been a rambunctious bunch, or disaster, because our disagreements are growing more fundamental?

      Verdicts in a criminal case do not begin to address those matters.

      But they are essential just the same. We can’t address anything effectively without the rule of law. Today, the rule of law won.“

    2. Cecelia, protesting is legal. Shooting people, not so much.

    3. "Kristofer Goldsmith, CEO of Sparverius, said that his goal has been to make militia groups "so paranoid that they can't function."

      "So, after the election, I was doing things that some other veterans were doing and joining these extremist organizations," said Goldsmith. "Now I was joining them because I wanted to know what they were planning. And I joined the Three Percenters. During the screening, using basically my real profile as an Iraq veteran as background, they're asking me questions about my weapon system, my secondary, meaning my handgun, how I was prepared to use it. What I would do in different tactical scenarios. They specifically asked, and I made recordings because these people are idiots, they were explicitly asking would you kill someone from Antifa or Black Lives Matter. This wasn't an anomaly."

      The 3-percenters are an alt-right group, not Antifa or BLM. Your claim about outside-agitators refers to these guys, not the left. If the left crosses a state line to protest in another city, it is no big deal because protesting is legal. Not the transportation of guns across state lines to shoot people at rallies and protests.

      That you would equate these is either very stupid or very dishonest, or both.

  4. "You aren't supposed to explain why he was there at all. Please don't ever do that!"

    Somerby hasn't done that either. And the reasons why he was there were not allowed by the judge to be presented to the jury. Instead they heard made-up reasons created by the defense attorneys after the fact to provide a plausible, if untrue, alternative explanation. And then Rittenhouse, by his own admission, lied on the stand about why he was there.

    Somerby suspends critical thinking concerning all of the so-called facts of this case. He pretends that liberals are just not listening to why he was there. He wasn't visiting his daddy. He wasn't helping the wounded. He wasn't cleaning up the burned cars or protecting anything. He was excited about participating in a battle and he was eager to shoot people, just like the Republican kid who asked "when do we get to use guns?". He thought it was manly to lug a gun around and was anxious to show that he belonged with the big boys who think violence is manly. And he shot and killed two truly innocent unarmed men and wounded a hero who was trying to stop him from killing more people.

    Somerby is on the wrong side of this. He says nice things about several of the folks on Reid's show, but never wonders why his own opinions are so different than those of the people he purportedly admires. Those of us who know Somerby, understand that he doesn't really admire the people who he then attacks, just as no one here (except AC/MA) thinks Somerby really admires MLK or Malala or even Thoreau. These are rhetorical devices to make Somerby appear reasonable, like a fellow-liberal who admires the left's icons, while he defends the indefensible and pretends Rittenhouse really was going to be a nurse. What a crock!

  5. Andrew Coffee IV, a black man, was acquitted of murder by way of self-defense, as reported by WPBF-TV. On the same day, Kyle Rittenhouse was cleared of murder charges by reason of self-defense.

    If the media give more attention to the courts behaving in a NON-racist way, their might be fewer riots.

    1. Did you try driving within the speed limit, dear Robert (if that's your real name)? We hear it helps, dear.

    2. Mao,
      It does help. Statistics show it helps 20% more, if you're white, tan if you are black.