The judge in Kyle Rittenhouse’s upcoming murder trial has laid out some early ground rules for attorneys, and they make perfect sense, as long as you’re a member of one of the militias or neo-fascist groups that support the 18-year-old defendant.

On Monday, Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder ruled that the two men Rittenhouse shot and killed and the one man he shot and wounded during protests over a Wisconsin police shooting last year can’t be called “victims” during the trial. They can, however, be called “arsonists,” “looters” or “rioters.”

The two nonvictims who are dead because Rittenhouse shot them could not be reached for comment.

The judge’s argument is that the word “victim” is too prejudicial. That seems reasonable, but on what planet does calling someone an arsonist or looter not impact how others view that person?

You don’t generally hear someone say, “Hey, I’d like you all to meet Bob, we’ve been friends since high school. He enjoys light looting and setting buildings on fire. Shall we head to lunch?”

The judge said defense attorneys can use the rather judgmental terms during closing arguments if there’s evidence the victim-esque people on the receiving end of Rittenhouse’s bullets actually engaged in looting, arson or rioting. But again, two of those three bullet recipients will be unable to defend their character due to their current state of nonaliveness, which came courtesy of Rittenhouse and his large gun.

The judge said the defense attorney can “demonize” the three men who were shot “if he thinks it will win points with the jury.”

Super. Nothing like a judge who’s pro-demonization and all-in on winning points.

Since the August 2020 night in Kenosha when Rittenhouse shot and killed Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz in the wake of protests and rioting over a white police officer’s shooting of a Black man, the then-17-year-old has become a hero among far-right folks who wish they too could shoot some people.

While out on bail in January, Rittenhouse was photographed at a bar flashing the white supremacist “OK” symbol with folks who sang him a song that has become the anthem of the neo-fascist Proud Boys. That led the judge to bar Rittenhouse from associating with known white supremacists, which doesn’t sound like a mark in the defendant’s favor.

But don’t worry, the judge ruled in September that any links to the Proud Boys can’t be brought up during trial. That will let the jury focus more closely on the rioting looter-arsonists who got nonvictimed, I suppose.

With jury selection starting Nov. 1, I want to help the judge move things along, so I have some additional rulings he should make to secure a trial that works for Rittenhouse and those who embrace the idea of a 17-year-old inspired by hateful nuttery illegally carrying an AR-15-style rifle on the streets of a city engulfed in chaos like some lunkheaded teen-Rambo.

First off, Rittenhouse cannot be referred to by his last name or called anything like “the shooter” or “the gunman.” He can only be called “widdle baby Kyle,” “the young lad” or “the polite young patriot.” Under certain circumstances, “good ol’ Kyle” will be acceptable.

The large gun Rittenhouse used that evening cannot be described as “a rifle,” “an AR-15-style rifle” or a gun of any sort. The prosecution may only say that Rittenhouse carried a “Founding-Fathers-approved anti-looting device” or an “arsonist-repellant dispenser.”

The alleged bullets that left the Founding-Fathers-approved anti-looting device and entered the nonvictims must be described as “bad-guy stoppers” that caused “unexpectedly fatal love taps.”

The protests that were happening in Kenosha cannot be referred to as “protests.” They will be categorized as “violent Marxist, Communist, Stalinist uprisings launched by Black Lives Matter terrorists” or, more simply, “festivals of satanic criminality.”

Anytime the words “looters,” “arsonist” or “rioters” come up, jury members are required to shake their heads in disgust, and at least one member must audibly gasp.

If a defense attorney describes widdle baby Kyle as “a nice young man who was trying to help,” no fewer than three jury members must look at the defendant and offer a subtle smile and a nod that says, “We’re proud of you, son.”

Every time the term “Black Lives Matter” is uttered during the trial, one juror must scream in terror and then faint and four must roll their eyes dismissively.

By putting these perfectly reasonable rules in place, Judge Schroeder can guarantee that Rittenhouse receives a fair (to those who have lionized him) trial and is proven innocent of nonmurdering his not-victims with the bad-guy stoppers that came out of his arsonist-repellant dispenser.


Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

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