Kyle Rittenhouse defended himself against lawless vigilantes

The eternal question of our time: Is the media evil or stupid?

The case of Kyle Rittenhouse is the latest example to expose the dishonesty and/or stupidity of the media in America today. Every step of that tragedy was encouraged, poisoned, hyped or distorted by the media.

“Who cares what the media does or says?” you might ask.

Well, in a system of self-governance, success or failure depends entirely upon an informed electorate. That is why one of Thomas Jefferson’s very proudest achievements was the establishment of a university.

The single most important manner of informing the electorate for self-governance — even more important than good universities — is an honest and accurate media. This is why the news media was called “the fourth estate” since the founding of America. 

The riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, began as a figment of the media’s sick imagination. The unrest was sparked by the police “killing” of an innocent, “unarmed” Black man. The looting and mayhem was justifiable vengeance, according to the media.

Democrat politicians — forever at the beck and call of crazy loons in the leftwing press — carried the banner. After all, it fits neatly into their bizarre anti-human agenda of defunding the police, celebrating criminal rioters and sowing racial division among citizens.

All lies, of course. The Black man shot by police was neither killed nor “unarmed.” Nor was he “innocent.”

Yet, still today, the media persists in telling the same lies over and over and over again.

One of the most appalling lies the media spins about Mr. Rittenhouse is this ceaseless claim that he was carrying out “vigilante justice.” The media repeats it all the time. And they constantly quote politicians making the same absurd claim.

As the wise jury in Kenosha determined, Mr. Rittenhouse’s case was not about “vigilante justice.” It was about self-defense. Mr. Rittenhouse was merely acting to protect himself from aggressors who wanted to hurt him or kill him.

“Vigilante justice” is lawless “justice” — also known as “vengeance” — carried out by lawless actors outside the confines of the law. In other words, rioters.

If you are unhappy with your lot in life and you go out and firebomb a police station, shoot a cop or turn over a police car to express your unhappiness, then you are a lawless rioter. That is vigilantism. 

If you are unhappy with your lot in life and so you ransack a store and steal a bunch of stuff, you are a looter. That is vigilantism.

If you are a politician or a member of the media who encourages or celebrates rioting, looting or the criminals who carry it out, then you are no better than the criminals themselves. That is vigilantism.

Mr. Rittenhouse was not a vigilante. He was an innocent citizen exercising his God-given and constitutionally protected right to defend himself in a situation where the government had so clearly failed to keep the peace and protect him.

The looters and rioters marauding through the streets that night in Kenosha — including the three who attacked Mr. Rittenhouse — were the vigilantes. And so are the media and politicians who encouraged them and were so quick to libel the innocent, 17-year-old Mr. Rittenhouse.

• Charles Hurt is the opinion editor at the Washington Times.