IMITATIONS OF DISCOURSE: "On interpretation," she almost said!

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2021

The past isn't even past: Way back in 1966, Susan Sontag literally almost wrote the book on the important subject. 

"On Interpretation." That's what the title of her famous book almost was.

The actual title of the book was perhaps somewhat different. According to all critical sources, the actual title was this:

Against Interpretation and Other Essays

As it turns out, Sontag's famous book was a collection of essays. The leading authority on this topic describes the book as shown

Against Interpretation is a collection of essays by Susan Sontag published in 1966. It includes some of Sontag's best-known works, including "On Style," and the eponymous essay "Against Interpretation." In the latter, Sontag argues that the new approach to criticism and aesthetics neglects the sensuous impact and novelty of art, instead fitting works into predetermined intellectual interpretations and emphasis on the "content" or "meaning" of a work. 

Few will argue with the eponymous essay's central thesis, the one about the sensuous impact and novelty of art. So too with the Sontag's final statement concerning the question at hand.

Sontag's essay contains ten sections. The final section of her essay is exactly one sentence long:

10. In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art.

Everyone agrees with that assessment—and no one knows what it means!

Our society's highest-level discussions, or possibly our imitations of same, are often extremely highfalutin. These discussions, or imitations of same, are conducted by our greatest minds. 

No one in the wider society is likely to have the slightest idea what they're talking about. Nor is it clear that those highest minds know what they're talking about!

Having stated these basic points, we can offer a basic bit of information concerning the nature of interpretation:

In the end, there is no ultimate way to say that some act of interpretation is actually "wrong." 

Any interpretation of any event can be clung to, by its adherents, to the bitter end. A justification can always be offered for the interpretation. 

There's never a way to force adherents to agree that their viewpoint is wrong. In the end, for better or worse, there is never some ultimate way to say that some act of interpretation is either "right" or "wrong." 

We pondered this point during last evening's 9 o'clock hour, as we watched the appalling Chris Cuomo conducting his TV show.

Alas! Our judgments concerning Cuomo's performance won't be shared by others. Similarly, we thought Claire McCaskill's performance was appalling on today's Morning Joe.  Others will think she was grand.

Let's return to the basic nature of interpretation:

In the end, no interpretation can be "proven" to be wrong in a way which compels agreement. Last night, this thought came to mind when we watched the former head of the NAACP state his view, on Cuomo's program, concerning the Rittenhouse trial.

We're speaking of Professor Cornell William Brooks, whose status as a (Harvard) professor was cited several times. His interpretation strikes us as tragic and borderline sane. To others, it's right on target:

BROOKS (11/11/21): What I believe is yes, I believe that Kyle Rittenhouse, along with the murderers down in Brunswick, Georgia, literally represent, not merely vigilantism. They represent the old-fashioned slave patrol.

Forget the part about the three men on trial in Georgia. According to Professor Brooks, Rittenhouse doesn't just represent vigilantism. He also "represents the old-fashioned slave patrol."

Indeed, Rittenhouse doesn't just "represent" the slave patrol, whatever that claim might mean. He literally represents the slave patrol—or so says Professor Brooks.

No interpretation can be fairly assessed until it's fully stated. Below, you see the start of the fuller statement made by Professor Brooks:

BROOKS: What I believe is yes, I believe that Kyle Rittenhouse, along with the murderers down in Brunswick, Georgia, literally represent, not merely vigilantism. They represent the old-fashioned slave patrol.

That, is to say, white men who deputize themselves, or were deputized by government, to literally hunt down black people or white people who sympathize with black people and stood in the gap in terms of preserving and protecting black lives.

So the fact that there were three white people who were shot in Kenosha, two of whom died, and all of whom were white, does not suggest in any way that this is anything less than a racially-infused and inflected crime. In other words, white people are not safe from white supremacy.

That was the start of the professor's fuller interpretation of what happened in Kenosha that night. That's his account of the way Rittenhouse "represented" the old-fashioned slave patrol.

Brooks seemed to say that Rittenhouse had been deputized, perhaps by himself, to literally hunt down white people who sympathize with black people. He was deputized to hunt them down. That's how those shootings happened.

That was the professor's interpretation of what happened in Kenosha that night. Rittenhouse had been deputized to literally hunt people down.

In fairness to the professor, his fuller explication of his interpretation continued on from there. You can read it in the CNN transcript. We will only say this:

On the merits, the professor's interpretation of these events strikes us as deeply tragic but also as tragically strange. Beyond that, it almost strikes us as exhibiting a type of blood lust which has always been a part of the wiring of the human race. 

That said, many others will find his interpretation to be spot on. In the end, there is no ultimate way to show that his interpretation is actually "right" or "wrong."

To some, the professor will seem to be making good sense. To others, he will seem to be crazily wrong—and the problem doesn't end there.

In the past few days, we've seen behavior by cable news stars which we've found appalling. To cite one example, McCaskill is a former prosecutor. Watching her today on Morning Joe, we thought again of the reasons why our prisons and jails are full of innocent people.

(In saying that, we don't mean to state a view concerning the appropriate verdict in the ongoing Kenosha trial. We only mean to say that prosecutors who are willing to behave in the way McCaskill did this morning have sent many innocent people to prison.)

We've been appalled by the behavior of major "cable news" stars. It seems to us that Cuomo needs to be taken off the air. Last night, Don Lemon may have been even worse.

In the past two days, Joe Scarborough's interpretations of events in Kenosha have struck us as astonishing. Yesterday, Mika played her standard role, chiming in with three-word slogans designed to support Joe's frameworks. 

(On Morning Joe, you can't repeat the pointless words "crossing state lines" often enough. Rittenhouse lives in Aurora, Illinois. It's one mile from the state line. 

(Yesterday morning, Joe even played the old Skittles card again, in the most irrelevant way possible. According to experts, we humans are wired to say the things we want to say when we want to say them.)

The larger point which gripped us last night involves a possible "fire bell in the night." It involves the question of whether a sprawling continental nation can expect to function and survive when operating as a type of Babel.

Long ago and far away, William Faulkner composed an interpretation of "the past" which is frequently quoted. The lines appear in Requiem for a Nun. Spoken by one of the novel's characters, they go exactly like this:

"The past is never dead. It's not even past."

The interpretations being offered today involve this nation's brutal history. Those slave patrols are never dead. As in the Balkans, so too here:

Those slave patrols are never dead. In reality, or perhaps in some people's minds, they're not even past!

Tomorrow: Cable stars spin the Kenosha trial in competing ways

Next week: We hope to return to Rachel Maddow's work—to her well-disguised and highly popular "forever war," concerning which our failing tribe could possibly take some lessons. We definitely plan to move ahead to an important question, one which leads in many directions.

The past has never been less dead than it is at the present time. Our important question would be this:

Who died and made Jonathan Capehart, a good decent person, lord god of all he surveys?


68 comments:

  1. "There's never a way to force adherents to agree that their viewpoint is wrong. In the end, for better or worse, there is never some ultimate way to say that some act of interpretation is either "right" or "wrong." "

    This is untrue. In fields such as literary criticism, people advance their ideas and their suggestions are evaluated by others, discussed, analyzed, and eventually a consensus emerges. Somerby suggests that "anything goes" because there is no way to determine right or wrong, but interpretation must rest on the content of the work being analyzed. It doesn't come out of thin air but must be grounded in the writing itself and the life of the author. It is anchored in reality.

    This is similar to what happens in the sciences. Peer review evaluates the work of scientists and that work must be consistent with the literature of other published work, replicable (capable of being reproduced by other scientists) before it is accepted as "true", which means consistent with nature and reality. Anything doesn't go there either.

    Somerby's musings, however, are not grounded in the work or thinking of others because he hasn't bothered to educate himself about how literary criticism works or how science creates new knowledge. He is musing in a vacuum and that means his thoughts are not grounded in anything except his own imagination and motives. And these are far from benign.

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    1. Eventually a "consensus" emerges in the field of literary criticism"? Are you nuts? (A rhetorical question).

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    2. Are you a literary critic or professor of literature?

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  2. It's simple, dear Bob, no mystery there.

    Because the party controlled by your liberal-hitlerian cult is the D-party, and the D-party has always been the party of slaveholders, the turn of phrase "the old-fashioned slave patrol" comes natural to your cult's high-priests.

    This is something they know and love.

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    1. Somerby is no liberal.

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    2. Mao, how Goebelsian can you get?

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    3. None of today's Democrats flight against the North in the civil war.

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  3. "On the merits, the professor's interpretation of these events strikes us as deeply tragic but also as tragically strange. Beyond that, it almost strikes us as exhibiting a type of blood lust which has always been a part of the wiring of the human race. "

    Somerby is attempting to make judgments about statements about Rittenhouse without having access to all of the facts of that case. He apparently doesn't know that Rittenhouse was not the only vigilante present to "guard" the businesses from the protestors. He doesn't know how Rittenhouse was recruited to attend the demonstration in that capacity. He apparently doesn't know that the police were encouraging the vigilantes who arrived with weapons to "protect" property. If Somerby understood more about what happened, he might be able to see how Brooks' remarks relate to the idea of slave patrols. And Somerby deliberately sets aside what happened in Georgia? Why? So that his own criticisms will seem more correct in the absence of that information?

    Somerby really shouldn't suggest that any interpretation is acceptable in the absence of facts. Brooks' ideas are based on those facts. And as the saying goes, you are entitled to your own opinions but not your own set of facts.

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    1. What's your level of involvement?

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  4. Literary criticism uses the term "interpretation" in a different way than Somerby is using the word. Sontag would not endorse Somerby's idea that any interpretation is true in the absence of any way to know what is correct. First, there is a way to test ideas against reality, and second, any interpretation is clearly not equally true under such constraints. It is only by ignoring facts that ANY interpretation is possible, but facts don't disappear in real life the way Somerby tries to disappear them here.

    Somerby's goal is clear. He wants to permit any interpretation so that HIS interpretations and those of the conservatives he defends can seem plausible to the weak minded. Someone who was once an educator but now pursues such a project is truly evil, in my opinion.

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  5. "To some, the professor will seem to be making good sense. To others, he will seem to be crazily wrong—and the problem doesn't end there."

    This isn't as much of a problem as Somerby pretends, since a jury will be considering the facts of Rittenhouse's case and making a determination. Then there will likely be an appeal because of the obvious bias displayed by the judge, who has been behaving improperly during this trial. That review will also result in a decision, contrary to Somerby's claims that no decision is possible.

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    1. anon 11:36 - if the jury finds Rittenhouse innocent, the prosecution has no right of appeal. That's how it works in the U.S. If the jury convicts Rittenhouse, he could appeal, and it would be up to the appellate court to decide on the appeal.

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    2. Do they not have a right to claim mistrial based on this judge's apparent bias?

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  6. "Rittenhouse lives in Aurora, Illinois. It's one mile from the state line."

    How far is Kenosha from the state line, and how far is it from Aurora? Somerby doesn't say, yet that is clearly relevant to his implication that Rittenhouse lived just next door to the demonstration.

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    1. Actually, Aurora, IL -- the setting for Wayne's World -- is not one mile from the Wisconsin border. It's actually quite far from Wisconsin, more like 40mi, as I recall my Illinois geography.

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    2. He actually lived in Antioch, which is close to the border, but not very close to the demonstration.

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  7. Somerby never says what he thinks the purpose of those vigilantes was in Kenosha that night. He is quick to deny that they were there as a slave patrol, but what exactly were they doing there?

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    1. There was an awful lot of arson and destruction of property. A wide swath of the city was destroyed by "social justice" demonstrators. That's Rittenhouse and others' rationale - they wished to protect people's property.

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    2. Rittenhouse and others' rationale was to protect white supremacy.

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    3. Neither of the above strikes me as being correct. Rittenhouse is a confused 17yo who got swept up into some bravado nonsense. What drives such nonsense is hard to say. In general, this society seems to be bursting at the seams.

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    4. Actual studies of BLM protests have found that they were generally peaceful.

      https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/news-and-ideas/black-lives-matter-protesters-were-overwhelmingly-peaceful-our-research-finds

      https://time.com/5886348/report-peaceful-protests/ says that 93% of BLM protests were peaceful

      https://acleddata.com/2020/09/03/demonstrations-political-violence-in-america-new-data-for-summer-2020/

      "While the US has long been home to a vibrant protest environment, demonstrations surged to new levels in 2020. Between 24 May and 22 August, ACLED records more than 10,600 demonstration events across the country. Over 10,100 of these — or nearly 95% — involve peaceful protesters. Fewer than 570 — or approximately 5% — involve demonstrators engaging in violence. Well over 80% of all demonstrations are connected to the Black Lives Matter movement or the COVID-19 pandemic. "

      https://www.wshu.org/news/2020-10-19/uconn-study-at-least-96-of-black-lives-matter-protests-were-peaceful

      https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2021/0708/BLM-and-Floyd-protests-were-largely-peaceful-data-confirms

      The same cannot be said for the activities of the white supremacists (Boogaloo Bois, Proud Boys, and other groups such as Rittenhouse's militia). Some were caught pretending to be BLM protesters. Others were arrested trying to instigate race rioting. And some, like Rittenhouse were arrested and are being tried for killing protesters.

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    5. 5:36 wrote:

      " A wide swath of the city was destroyed by "social justice" demonstrators."

      This is false. Not a wide swath, and not social justice demonstrators, "most of the damage was from individuals with no intent to protest and who were not from Kenosha County." says Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth.

      What led this commenter to make such an odd interpretation? How did this commenter get so wounded?

      5:36 also wrote:

      "That's Rittenhouse and others' rationale - they wished to protect people's property."

      Naivete aside, Zimmerman waited until after his trial to spew his racism, Rittenhouse was only out on bail when he was found (illegally) drinking in a bar with a bunch of Proud Boys and flashing white supremacist signs.

      Your in good company 5:36!

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  8. "In the end, for better or worse, there is never some ultimate way to say that some act of interpretation is either "right" or "wrong."

    Does this include your "interpretations", Bob? Just asking for a friend.

    Makes you wonder what anyone is doing here discussing anything.

    Nihilism: "extreme skepticism maintaining that nothing in the world has a real existence"

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    1. Plus you have to be very credulous to think that any media member is clueless enough to actually buy the notion of a modern day “slave patrol” in a situation where BLM and black protesters had been sidelined by antisocial white marxists and anarchists.

      This is- give cover us black folks… Riot. We’ll take over and make bank from there.

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    2. A modern day slave patrol would be there to keep black people in their place, for intimidation and recovery of property, and punishment of those white people aiding and abetting slaves who tried to escape. How is that any different than Rittenhouse joining a militia in order to protect property and keep black people in their place through intimidation of the black people and those white people aiding them? The only missing element is slavery, but the banning of slavery has not stopped white people from treating blacks as second class citizens, which is what the demonstration was about.

      Blaming this on largely imaginary "marxists" and anarchists doesn't excuse what Rittenhouse did or his militia buddies and the cops who enabled them in their vigilante activities. Slave patrols were vigilantes too, with the same purpose as Rittenhouse and his buddies.

      So, as Somerby himself said, some of us see the relevance of the slave patrol description, and some of you do not. You should be comparing the suggested interpretations to relevant facts to decide which to believe. How many marxists and anarchists have been identified as participating in the demonstration compared to the militia members? Hint: none, whereas the militia members have been identified.

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    3. Anonymouse 12:24pm, anonymices argue on one day that the protests had turned to riots because the Proud Boys had come in, assumed the ID of Antifa and run the black protesters out. Then you argue the next moment that after coming to Kenosha, Rittenhouse was enlisted by a militia in order to kill the slaves that weren’t there.

      You’re right about the protests having been usurped by whites- right and left in their politics. Anyone who watched the videos could see that. However, what they had then was the imprimatur of anti-racism because of George Floyd’s recent murder.

      That is more distant now. Rittenhouse shot three white guys who were out there breaking the stuff that they had been breaking all summer. There are no black folks involved to use as cover.

      Putting a new narrative to counter that fact is what the media is working on now. Fantastic for rating and useful political pretext.

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    4. They could learn a thing or two about efficiency from the Right, who contradict themselves in the same sentence.

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    5. False equivalency Cecelia, white people joining the BLM movement to peacefully protest police killings is not the same as white people joining militias of white supremacists with guns trying to intimidate protestors by threatening (and committing) violence, against both property and people.

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    6. The notion that Rittenhouse et al amounted to a modern day slave patrol is not undercut by the fact that the dumpster fires and window smashing were done by wrongheaded agitators. Rittenhouse was there to instigate conflict due to his dislike for BLM.

      When you are skeptical of those trying to improve society through progress to the point that you go all in with a 17yo living out a murderous cosplay fantasy, you have lost your integrity, your credibility, and your moral compass.

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  9. “ So the fact that there were three white people who were shot in Kenosha, two of whom died, and all of whom were white, does not suggest in any way that this is anything less than a racially-infused and inflected crime. In other words, white people are not safe from white supremacy.”

    The media is ginning-up riots if Rittenhouse is acquitted.

    They’re saying don’t let the race of the victims suggest to you that this isn’t about black folks. Riot.

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    1. May we suggest that maybe Rittenhouse, in fact, looks like Django Unchained in this story. He's clearly the underdog, he's the one being hunted, and so on.

      It's more like riots if Rittenhouse is convicted, nicht wahr?

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    2. Nicht wahr? Shout-out to the neo Nazis?

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    3. Cecelia, why was Rittenhouse there? You tell me.

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    4. Anonymouse 11:56am, ostensively he had been enlisted by a militia member to protect the business of a friend.

      Whoever put a gun into the hands of a 17-year-old and told him to go defend anything can thank themselves for utter tragedy. And it’s not over yet.

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    5. And how do Rittenhouse's actions correspond to his reason for being there? Was he defending that property? Was he anywhere near it when he shot people? Was anyone attacking the property? How many people would be needed to defend property that was not the focus of the demonstration? Does his explanation make any sense to you?

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    6. Rittenhouse will be shot in the head as he walks down the courthouse steps after acquittal.
      As Cecelia mentioned they are ginning up a (laugh) riot as we speak.

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    7. Rittenhouse crossed state lines with an assault rife to defend white supremacy.

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    8. Anonymouse12:18am, he was playing medic.

      https://apnews.com/article/kyle-rittenhouse-trial-key-points-bc51f3b9dd0fe0c1289fe2161d7c3ab3

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    9. If he's acquitted, 10 bucks says he goes after the January 6th insurrectionists for stealing his title as The World's Biggest Snowflake.

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    10. Rittenhouse was born with that title. That’s how he got recruited.

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    11. We like "crossed state lines with an assault rife to defend white supremacy". Some of the dembot talking points are very romantic. Charming.

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    12. Was at a high school football game last week where the crowd was chanting "Fuck Off Mao".

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    13. "The media is ginning-up riots if Rittenhouse is acquitted."

      Yes, they are. And, they don't seem to care. Are they too dumb to understand what they're doing? Do they want riots, because riots will sell more newspapers?

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    14. First Amendment.
      Corporations are people too, my friend.

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    15. The charge of "white supremacy" is the modern day equivalent of McCarthyism. In the 1950's, conservatives automatically called every liberal a Communist or at least a commie sympathizer (Commsymp). Today, liberals call every conservative a "white supremacist". Even black conservatives are called "white supremacists."

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    16. "The charge of "white supremacy" is the modern day equivalent of McCarthyism."

      Or it would be if Republican legislatures weren't trying to make it so difficult for black people to vote.

      Also, you don't have to go back to the 50s to find conservatives who automatically call every liberal a Communist.

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    17. David,
      It's not like the Right tried to overthrow the nation's Capitol because black people's votes counted in an election, or that they think Trump should be President because Biden "cheated" by bringing out the black vote.
      McCarthyism, indeed.

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    18. Here's an article from the respected 538 in which the author uses some complex statistics to "prove" that voting for a black person over a white person means that the voter is anti-black.https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-racist-white-voters-often-favor-black-republicans/

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    19. David, is was not complex stats, it was just straightforward surveying, and what it indicated is common and unsurprising, it is called tokenism.

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    20. The difference between "McCarthyism" of the 50s, and calling the Right "racists" today, is that not every liberal in the 50s was a Communist.

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    21. Actually, Rittenhouse was in Kenosha because he works there as a lifeguard at the YMCA. He does have basic first aid and CPR skills from that training.

      He did not bring a gun across the state line because it was already at the home of the stepfather of his sister’s boyfriend.

      The boyfriend - Dominick Black- had illegally purchased the gun for Kyle and Black’s stepfather had been keeping it in a locked closet. The stepfather told police that he brought it out after being alarmed by the rioting in the area.

      The day after his lifeguard shift, Rittenhouse went to wash graffiti off a school. It was there that he hooked up with the idiots who enlisted him to help guard the business. Rittenhouse told his mother that he was doing that and helping as a medic (At the riot, Kyle promoted himself to EMT…)

      Why Rittenhouse’s mother didn’t immediately drive over there and put him her car by his ear, I do not understand.

      Also- we don’t have a functioning media in this country.

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/07/05/kyle-rittenhouse-american-vigilante/amp

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    22. Rittenhouse worked as a lifeguard in Lindenhurst, which is a suburb in Illinois, not Kenosha. While he was certified as a lifeguard, he was not working as one for the YMCA, according to the Chicago Tribune. Lifeguard training is not EMT training.

      No one seriously believes that he was acting as a medic at the protest. For one thing, none of the video showing his behavior there supports that.

      There seems to be a lot of conflicting info floating around, in the media itself. That may not be the fault of the media but of its informants.

      At age 17, boys hide things from their mothers. I wouldn't blame her for this kid's actions.

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    23. You might enjoy this, Cecelia:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTsrq94A6n8&ab_channel=FoxNews

      Wendy Rittenhouse, talking about her son

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    24. Corby, Lindenhurst, IL is 24.1 miles away from Kenosha. I get my hair done farther away than that.

      Do you take tone deaf lessons? I (me) specifically relayed the info that Kyle hotdogged his credentials from basic first-aid and CPR to EMT status. Imagine a teenager doing that… (sarcasm)… I was hardly conflating the two.

      As to Kyle’s mother, you, as usual, didn’t read the link.

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    25. Anonymouse 10:44pm, thanks fir the link.

      Mrs. Rittenhouse is very likely did, does, and is doing the best that she can.

      I had no idea that Biden had called Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist.

      I’ll add that a long with a nonfunctional… actually -dysfunctional media, we don’t have enough functioning adults in the country as well.

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  10. Aurora is over forty miles from the state line.

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    1. Correct. In Somerby’s shoddy world of fact-checking:
      “ Rittenhouse lives in Aurora, Illinois. It's one mile from the state line. ” That’s a major howler. He probably heard it on Fox.

      It is also 86 miles from Aurora to Kenosha.

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    2. Actually, the yute is from Antioch, Illinois, dear dembots. Right next to the border. 'Aurora' is a typo.

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    3. Mao actually has knowledge of a little factoid and it's accurate! Although, Antioch, IL is much farther west and a lot more than a mile from downtown Kenosha, which sits on the lakefront.

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    4. Aurora isn't a typo, it is a mistake.

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    5. Antioch to Kenosha is about twenty miles.

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  11. Conservatives are accusing the left of stoking riots, while doing this themselves:

    "A member of a right-wing group on the messaging app Telegram reportedly posted the home address of the lead prosecutor in Kyle Rittenhouse's trial, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports."

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    1. David Neiwert, an expert on the alt-right, says:

      "It’s a recipe for an outbreak of eliminationist violence directed at “the left”—who these right-wing ideologues define broadly as “antifa,” Black Lives Matter, socialists, anti-police protesters, and for that matter merely liberal Democrats who support President Joe Biden. The day when the jury declares Rittenhouse innocent will become a beacon for the radical right, a giant flashing green light signaling permission to begin “using their guns,” telling them their long-awaited day to “begin killing these people” without consequence or compunction has finally arrived.

      We know this because that is not only what they have been telling themselves in the runup to the trial, but it’s what they and their Republican enablers are now shouting from the rooftops."

      https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2021/11/12/2064025/-Rittenhouse-s-inevitable-acquittal-will-be-green-light-for-far-right-extremists-itching-for-violence

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    2. And then there is this:

      "New York Times: “From congressional offices to community meeting rooms, threats of violence are becoming commonplace among a significant segment of the Republican Party. Ten months after rioters attacked the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, and after four years of a president who often spoke in violent terms about his adversaries, right-wing Republicans are talking more openly and frequently about the use of force as justifiable in opposition to those who dislodged him from power.”

      “In Washington, where decorum and civility are still given lip service, violent or threatening language still remains uncommon, if not unheard-of, among lawmakers who spend a great deal of time in the same building. But among the most fervent conservatives, who play an outsize role in primary contests and provide the party with its activist energy, the belief that the country is at a crossroads that could require armed confrontation is no longer limited to the fringe.”

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  12. From Digby's blog:

    "This sort of vigilantism is routinely celebrated on the right these days. From the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida to the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers now unfolding in Georgia, they have lined up in support for citizens who take the law into their own hands — as long as the targets are left-wing protesters and Black people. They aren’t so keen when the shoe is on the other foot.

    You may recall another very similar case in Portland, Oregon, last year when Michael Reinoehl, an armed antifa supporter, got into a beef with Aaron Danielson, a supporter of the far-right group Patriot Prayer. In this case, the leftist shot and killed the MAGA supporter and Trump, according to his own account of events on Fox News, personally ordered U.S. marshals to hunt Reinoehl down:

    Now we sent in the U.S. marshals for the killer, the man that killed the young man in the street. Two and a half days went by, and I put out, “When are you going to go get him?” And the U.S. marshals went in to get him, and in a short period of time, they ended in a gunfight. This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. marshals killed him. And I’ll tell you something — that’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution when you have crime like this.

    According to this rundown of the events by the New York Times, it’s clear that Reinoehl was unarmed at the time of his death and that marshals opened fire without warning as he walked to his car. It was an extrajudicial execution, apparently ordered by the president of the United States

    It may be that Kyle Rittenhouse will be seen in the eyes of the law to have fired in self-defense. After all, he’s being tried for murder, not for being a reckless fool who should never have carried a firearm anywhere near the melee that night. Many of the TV lawyers analyzing the case believe the prosecution has not made the case for a homicide conviction. If that’s the way things play out, that won’t be the fault of the lawyers, the judge or the jury. It will be the direct result of laws that allow teenage boys to wander the streets with loaded assault weapons slung over their shoulders, as if that were perfectly reasonable in a civilized society.

    Vigilantism, extrajudicial killings by federal authorities, violent insurrections, threats and harassment of public officials, and rejection of election results and the democratic process are all hallmarks of authoritarian movements. Coddling the gun fetishists and allowing right-wing extremism to fester over many years has brought us to the point when we must ask ourselves if we’re no longer a country where politics is war by other means — it’s just plain old war."

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  13. "For ourselves, we'd be disinclined to convict "

    Zimmerman redux,

    I predicted this more than a year back.

    white male codger's limbic brain in action.

    "we librulz"

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