Comparisons have been drawn between the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse and the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers. While contextually quite different and the comparisons between them prompted mostly by coincidental timing, they do share bare bones similarities. Both were incidents in which a person or multiple people killed another person or multiple people. Both were incidents in which an armed person claimed that they were acting in self defense when they shot an unarmed person or people. Both shooters used the dubious argument that the unarmed person/people were trying to disarm them and claiming that the unarmed person, if they were then armed with the formerly armed person’s weapon, would kill them, so they had to kill them first. It would have been infuriating, but unsurprising, if these cases had gone, as they often have, in favor of the white male shooters. But we ended with mixed results, with Rittenhouse exonerated and Arbery’s murderer’s all found guilty of murder to different degrees.
Wisconsin is a deeply racist state, despite whatever it tries to tell itself, however it prides itself on the subtlety of its racism in comparison to a state like Georgia, which puts it all out there, letting its huge racist gut and tits spill over its Confederate flag belt buckle, yet it is surprising that Georgia was the state to rule on the side of justice in these incidents, when that case was so heavily weighted with racism. It’s surprising that the white victims in Wisconsin did not get justice, but that the Black victim in Georgia did. It could be viewed as a mark of progress in Georgia, that the jury and the justice system did the right thing, after the justice system did all it could beforehand to avoid doing the right thing, and police and prosecutors attempted to brush the case away until it got national attention, but maybe the case was just too clean cut and the public outcry too loud to be ignored. When white men in trucks chase down a jogging unarmed Black man and execute him on a neighborhood street on a sunny afternoon with a shotgun, there’s a little less nuance than when a heavily armed white boy runs around an arguably chaotic and potentially dangerous scene and ends up provoking violent confrontations, even if his very presence and actions added to the chaos and precipitated the violence.
Another case that’s been drawing comparisons, particularly to the Rittenhouse case, is that of Chrystul Kizer. At seventeen, Kizer was convicted of murdering a man who’d been sexually abusing her, for which she claimed self defense. The comparison is obvious: a seventeen year old kid shoots and kills someone and says that it was self defense. The obvious difference is that Rittenhouse was a white boy and Kizer was a black girl. But there are bigger differences than that. Rittenhouse went to Kenosha with an illegal military weapon, provoked an attack on himself, and then used his gun to kill two people and maim a third. Kizer was a sex trafficking victim who was taken to a man’s house, where she was abused and threatened, and then used her abuser’s own gun to kill him. Granted, she did also set his house on fire and steal his car, which didn’t help her case, but honestly, that is to me an act of justice in itself: the right of a sexually abused child to kill their pedophilic rapist and then torch their house and take their car should be written into the Constitution.
Rittenhouse and Kizer are radically different. She was a victim who turned the tables on an armed threat and killed him; Rittenhouse was an armed threat who killed people predicated on the notion that someone might turn the tables on him and kill him.
If you have a gun and threaten people with it, you should have no right to claim self defense. If someone has a gun and is threatening you, whatever you do in response is justifiably self defense. She is the much more obvious victim. Her case is much better.
Race is a strong component in these cases, but so too is randomness. Depending on the judge, the jury, the state you’re in, and the media coverage you receive, you will receive wildly different forms of justice. Even in the same city, Kizer and Rittenhouse both having been tried in Kenosha, WI, there is no consistency. Just because it works on occasion doesn’t mean it isn’t still a rigged game of chance.