The Rittenhouse Trial

Because I started my blogging “career” as a gun blogger, the fact that I haven’t posted about the Rittenhouse case may have surprised a few longtime readers. However, I chose to refrain from commenting about it because I wanted to have access to all of the evidence before making an ass out of myself (better to be an ass who analyzed the evidence than an ass who didn’t).

Fortunately, the entire trial was livestreamed. Rather than listen to my usual assortment of podcasts while I worked, I opted to listen to the livestream of the trial. This gave me the opportunity to hear both the prosecution’s and defense’s cases. Based on the cases put forth I agree with the jury’s decision to find Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges.

A quick browsing of Twitter shows that a lot of people disagree with the jury’s verdict. It also shows me that many of the people expressing the strongest opinions, as is the tradition of online debates, didn’t watch the trial and misunderstand how the justice system in the United States is supposed to work (which is different than how it often works).

Let’s start with what I consider to be one of the most important characteristics of a functional justice system: presumption of innocence. When the state brings charges against an individual, the individual is assumed to be innocent. This means that the burden is placed on the state to prove the individual is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If you watched the trial, you saw how weak the prosecution’s case was. By the end of the trial the prosecution was leaning almost exclusively on video captured from a drone. The prosecution claimed that the video showed Rittenhouse aiming his rifle at people. This according to the prosecution proved that Rittenhouse instigated the situation and therefore lost the right to claim self-defense. Setting aside the minutia of self-defense law (what qualifies as instigation, when you lose the right to claim self-defense, when you regain the right to claim self-defense, etc.) the drone footage didn’t conclusively show Rittenhouse aiming his gun at people, which means the evidence didn’t prove the prosecution’s argument beyond a reasonable doubt.

I’m highlighting the drone footage because it allows me to segue into another point: trials have rules. A lot of rules. One rule is that the defense must be given access to the prosecution’s evidence. The prosecution provided the defense with a compressed copy of the drone footage. The defense brought this up in trial. A lot of online publications tried to make this sounds like the defense was desperate, but it was raising legitimate concerns about artifacts that are introduced when video files are compressed. Miraculously the prosecution produced a higher resolution version of the video footage and asked to show it to the jury… without first give the defense reasonable time to analyze it. This lead to the defense filing a motion for mistrial. Again online publications tried to make the motion sound like a desperate last ditch effort by a losing defense, but in actuality the motion was filed because the prosecution broke the rules.

This segues into a third point. Judges are basically referees. They ensure both the defense and prosecution (as well as everybody else in the courtroom) play by the rules. A lot of people accused the judge of (amongst other things) being biased in favor of the defense. Having watched the trial I can’t agree with those accusations. The judge came off to me as being pretty fair. Some of his actions did favor the defense, but some of his actions also favored the prosecution. The most obvious action he took that favored the prosecution was not declaring a mistrial (I believe the motion for a mistrial had merit and the judge would have been well within his rights to declare a mistrial).

These are just a few highlights that I chose to explain some of the important features of a trial. In truth the prosecution made a pitiful showing. Not only did it bring a weak case, but it violated some major rules (bringing up the fact Rittenhouse choice to exercise is Fifth Amendment right, which is a big no-no for a prosecutor, being one of the more egregious violations).

So, despite what many Twitter users seem to believe, a criminal trial is not meant to be a mere formality that enacts the desires of the loudest majority. It’s meant to be a strictly defined process to determine whether a person is guilty of a crime. While you’ll find no shortage of criticisms of the United States justice system coming from me, in this case I believe that the trial was executed more or less appropriately and the verdict was correct based on the arguments made by the defense and prosecution.

What annoys me most about this case is that even though the video footage of the entire trial is readily available on sites like YouTube, people will continue to spout falsehoods about it and the events that lead up to it. I still see a lot of tweets claiming that Rittenhouse illegally crossed state lines with his rifle or was illegally in possession of the rifle because he was a minor (those who watched the trial know that neither statement is correct). I also see a lot of tweets accusing the judge of being biased or a white supremacist (which mostly derive from a joke he made about Asian food that was actually, and pretty obviously in context, a joke about the current supply chain issues). Nothing the judge said during the trial leads me to believe he’s a white supremacist (and considering all three of the individuals Rittenhouse shot were white, I’m not sure why this is something people are wasting so much bandwidth arguing) and, as I wrote previously, his actions didn’t indicate any obvious bias.

Defining Police

Those who identify themselves as left leaning are screaming about the need to defund the police and replace them with social workers. Those who identify themselves as right leaning are screaming about the rise in crime and blaming it squarely on the policies being advocated by the left. But neither side is stopping to consider the nature of policing. The policies being advocated by leftists assume police are peacekeepers. The policies being advocated by rightists assume police are law enforcers. The truth is police are tasked with both jobs, which creates a problem because the two jobs are mutually exclusive.

You cannot have law enforcers be peacekeepers or vice versa. This is because laws, with only a few exceptions, have nothing to do with peace. Consider the prohibition against cannabis. What tranquility is shattered by individuals growing, selling, buying, and smoking cannabis? None… until it’s made illegal. Once those activities are declared illegal, law enforcers are tasked with initiating violence against anybody growing, selling, buying, or smoking cannabis. Tax evasion is another example. How does avoiding paying taxes interfere with peace? It doesn’t… until law enforcers get involved.

The only way to fix policing is to separate the jobs of peacekeeping and law enforcement. However, this solution will never be achieved through politics because the State depends on one entity performing both jobs. It depends on law enforcers to enforce its will. Without law enforcers the State has no power. But a populace would not normally accept law enforcers with open arms because law enforcers necessarily prey upon the populace (laws exist, after all, to transfer wealth from the masses to the political class). So law enforcers are also assigned the job of peacekeeping. As peacekeepers police are legitimized and accepted by a populace.

While the left screams about the need to defund the police and the right screams about the need to bolster the police know that the only solution is to abolish the State.

Ignorance of the Law Should Be an Excuse

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse” and “I’m a law abiding citizen” rank towards the top on my list of hated phrases. Law enforcers and prosecutors like to claim that ignorance of the law is no excuse when they’re arresting and taking you to court respectively. Judges are even in on the game. They tell jurors, while wearing a straight face no less, that their verdict must be based on the letter of the law. Then there’s the defendant. Up until he found himself in court he very well may have said that he was a law abiding citizen. He might even compound his ignorance by saying he looked forward to his day in court so he could prove his innocence. The lawyers, prosecutors, and judges are demanding that people be held to an impossible standard. The person who calls himself a law abiding citizen is a fool.

I’m sure there’s at least one person who considers themselves a law abiding citizen scoffing at my previous sentence. If that person is you, there’s an exercise that you can perform to prove me wrong. The only thing you need for this exercise is a pen and paper. Without looking any up write down every law for the municipality, county, and state in which you live. Then write down every federal law. When you’ve finished writing down all of the laws you know, look up all of the laws you missed.

You’ll find that you missed most of them. I know this for certain because if you did start writing down every law under which you live, you would die of old age before you finished. Maybe you think you could do so if you had enough time. If you believe that, begin reading through the laws under which you live and only write down the ones you didn’t know. Since legal professionals like lawmakers, judges, and lawyers don’t know the entirely of the law, I have my doubts that you do.

The bottom line is the everybody is ignorant of the law. Since everybody is ignorant of the law, it’s impossible for anybody to know that they’re a law abiding citizen.

This situation is even more dire when you stop to consider that the body of law is in a constant state of change. City council members, senators, congressmen, and other lawmakers are constantly tweaking existing laws and creating new ones. Even if you did manage to learn every law under which you live, your knowledge would quickly be outdated. Then you have to take into account the rulings made by various judges. Their rulings ultimately decide what the letter of the law actually means. And they frequently invalidate each others’ rulings so their rulings too are in a constant state of flux.

I’m left with a question that should seem obvious at this point. Why isn’t ignorance of the law an excuse? If legal professionals who attend specialized schooling can’t comprehend the entirety of the law, why are laymen expected to do so? Why is a system built on a practically uncountable number of laws that are frequently conflicting and always changing considered just?

I call bullshit on the entire concept. Ignorance of the laws should be an excuse.

The Police Aren’t Coming

A law enforcer killed a black man in Atlanta and is being charged. This has ruffled the feathers of many other law enforcers in the city and now they’re coming down with the blue flu:

Hours after the Fulton County district attorney announced felony murder and other charges against the former Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man, in the back, a number of Atlanta police officers called in sick just before a shift change Wednesday evening.

A lot of people argue that nobody needs tools to protect themselves because if they’re in danger, they can call the police. I along with many (probably most) other advocates for gun ownership have argued that you can’t rely on other people to protect you. This argument often falls on deaf eras. Even when you point out that law enforcers have no duty to protect you, gun control advocates will argue that a cop isn’t going to just stand by and let something bad happen to an innocent person.

The recent civil unrest that started in Minneapolis has done a wonderful job of illustrating that law enforcement departments can easily become overwhelmed and when they’re overwhelmed they don’t send resources to protect you or your business. Atlanta is now illustrating the fact that there are circumstances where law enforcers will refuse to show up for work. As with Minneapolis just a short while ago, it appears that the people of Atlanta are on their own.

This is why defense in depth is such an important concept. You want redundant self-defense plans in case any single plan fails. This is especially true if any of your plans rely on anybody but yourself to execute (the only person you can 100 percent rely on is yourself because that’s the only person whose actions you can control).

How You Can Help Fight Law Enforcement Brutality

Here’s an idea for something you can do right now to help fight law enforcer brutality.

Stop calling the cops over stupid shit like your neighbor’s grass being too tall, an individual openly carrying a firearm walking around and minding their own business, a voluntary transaction of cash for illicit drugs happening in a parking lot, or kids playing at a playground without parental supervision.

Interactions with law enforcers always carry the risk of turning violent. Reducing the number of interactions will reduce the number of opportunities for harmless activities turning into violent encounters.

Do your part, don’t be a snitch.

It’s All Gone to Hell

Last night’s riots left their mark and have continued through today. I’ve been watching several livestreams and it’s obvious that local law enforcers have completely lost control of the situation. It turns out that the mechanism used by the State to oppress the masses is easily overwhelmed (surprising nobody). Governor Walz has called in the National Guard to reinforce the law enforcers, but what may go down as the single dumbest statement uttered by a Minnesotan has likely nullified whatever chance may have existed to get this riot under control:

#Breaking: During presser in Minneapolis, Hennepin County Atty Michael Freeman says #GeorgeFloyd video “graphic, horrific & terrible.” His job to prove “violation of criminal statute.”

Then drops bombshell:

“But there is other evidence that does not support a criminal charge.”

Even if Freeman has no intention of charging and arresting the officer(s) involved, there was no reason to add that last bombshell. That added a tremendous amount of fuel to an already burning firestorm.

Keeping track of all of the places in the Twin Cities experiencing looting or riots has become futile. The situation is changing too rapidly. As of this writing I know riots or looting have occurred in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Maplewood, and Woodbury. I’ve also heard mention of civil unrest in Cottage Grove and Burnsville. Stillwater’s law enforcers have apparently thrown up barricades, but those will do absolutely nothing if a determined group of rioters make it that far east. The sun hasn’t even set yet. If the last two nights are any indicator, what we’re seeing right now is the free sample. The main course will be served after sundown.

I’m not going to bother trying to deconstruct everything that is happening. Instead I’m going to provide some advice to help those of you living in the metro area increase your odds of surviving this shitshow.

  1. Don’t go to Target right now. Most of them in the metro have been closed already and for some reason Target has lived up to its name and become a primary target of the looters. Maybe this is a lesson on being more careful when choosing a company name.
  2. It’s easy to underestimate how fast riots move. Today was a good lesson in this fact as riots spread into St. Paul and some of its neighboring suburbs in a matter of hours. Just because a riot isn’t occurring near you doesn’t mean it won’t reach you soon. Treat the riots like a storm, follow their movements closely.
  3. There is no reasoning with a mob. If riots are coming to your neighborhood, run.
  4. If you don’t have a bug out bag ready to go, pack your shit now. By the time you realize you need to flee, you won’t have time to pack your shit.
  5. As a general rule hotels are cheaper the further away from the metro you are. Consider your flight a vacation for which you’re trying to get the best deal. Run as far as you can.
  6. Emergency services are going to be tied up. They will likely not respond if you call them. You’re on your own.
  7. If you work in the Twin Cities and your place of employment isn’t already a smoldering crater, call in sick. Fortunately, the COVID-19 scare makes this easier than ever.
  8. Go strapped or get clapped. You should have a gun loaded and ready to go. At a minimum you should have a handgun that you can carry on your person. Ideally you should have a long gun at home loaded and ready go to.
  9. Camping is great this time of year and the campgrounds in Wisconsin should be open for business.
  10. Last but not least, if you have a thin blue line sign or sticker on your home or vehicle, you might want to remove it sooner rather than later.

There’s nothing anybody can do to stop these riots anymore. They have to burn themselves out. The only thing you can do is take care of you and yours so concentrate on that.

Minneapolis Police Department Added Another to Its Body Count and People Became Upset

Yesterday morning saw another unarmed black man added to the Minneapolis Police Department’s (MPD) body count. In a surprisingly short period of time it was announced that four officers were fired from the department over the situation. However, that failed to assuage the masses who are all too familiar with the cycle of law enforcers being fired only to be reinstated after their union argues that the firing was unwarranted. During the evening the inevitable happened. Protesters made their feelings clear to the law enforcers.

The protest, which I followed courtesy of the live streamers at Unicorn Riot, was larger than previous protests against MPD’s brutality. Eventually the protesters made their way to the Third Precinct in Minneapolis and went to town. The protesters surrounded the Third Precinct, tagged it with graffiti, smashed many of its windows, and messed up a couple of law enforcer vehicles. The evening festivities culminated with MPD reinforcements arrived and clashing with protesters for quite some time.

Not surprisingly online viewers were arguing about whether or not the protesters’ were villains or heroes. I think that argument missed the most important point. The morality of the protesters’ actions depends on your personal views, but what happened last night was inevitable.

MPD has a sordid history with unarmed black men dying in its custody. The decision makers in the MPD, City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, State of Minnesota, and federal government have blocked any justice for the families of those killed by MPD. The officers involved seldom receive any meaningful punishment and are almost never charged with a crime. When they are charged, they are almost always found not guilty because the law give law enforcers, unlike the rest of us, tremendous leeway in the use of deadly force.

If you take away all forms of recourse that we like to consider civil, wronged individuals will eventually resort to violence. What happened in Minneapolis yesterday evening was the direct result of government personnel continuously protecting MPD officers from punishment for their wrongdoing. The fact that such a situation hadn’t happened earlier is rather miraculous. Likewise, the fact that the situation wasn’t far worse is also miraculous.

The truth is MPD was damn lucky. The protesters massively outnumbered the officers in the Third Precinct. They could have easily overrun the building and killed every officer inside. They didn’t, but if the status quo with MPD continues, the next incident will likely be worse and eventually a spark will light the powder keg that is the city and a lot of people will die. I hope that last night’s conflict puts enough fear into the decision makers to convince them that the status quo is no longer viable. Unfortunately, I doubt it did. It may take citywide rioting before the decision makers are finally scared enough to stop shielding MPD’s officers from justice.

Maintaining a Currency

I like the idea of cryptocurrencies for several reasons. With the exceptions of ones started by governments or their cronies, they exist outside the direct control of governments. If designed properly, they can also enable anonymous transactions, which hinders the efforts of governments to use transaction information to oppress individuals. However, there is a lot of criticism aimed at cryptocurrencies. Some of the criticism is valid, but much of the criticism is idiotic when considered in the context of currencies in general.

One of the most common criticisms I see regarding cryptocurrencies is their energy consumption. Consider Bitcoin. There is a website dedicated to tracking the estimated power usage of the Bitcoin blockchain. As of this writing the site estimates the blockchain’s energy consumption at 73.12 TWh, which it says is roughly equivalent to the power usage of all of Austria. Consuming the power usage of an entire country to maintain a blockchain appears horribly inefficient… until you compare it to the resources used by other currencies.

Consider the United States dollar. It’s easy to make the mistake of assuming the dollar is a comparatively efficient currency since pieces of paper with pictures of dead tyrants don’t consume electricity. But there’s so much more involved in manufacturing an maintaining dollars. To start with you have the obvious raw materials needed to manufacture dollars. Ink, paper, printing machinery, etc. are needed to make every dollar. Not only is printing machinery used to print dollars, it also requires routine maintenance. Once the dollars are printed they must be stored so you need warehouse facilities. But not any warehouse facility will do. Being a highly sought after good, dollars must be stored in a warehouse that is secure against thieves. These secure storage facilities require hardened materials, security devices, electricity, manpower, etc. Then you have the issue of transporting dollars between storage facilities, which must also be done in a secure manner (armored trucks aren’t exactly fuel efficient vehicles).

The resources needed for manufacturing, storing, and circulating dollars is only a small percentage of the overall resources needed to maintain dollars. A fiat currency quickly becomes worthless if nongovernmental counterfeiters are able to practice their trade unhindered. There are two majors steps to thwarting counterfeiters: hardening the currency itself to make counterfeiting more difficult and punishing counterfeiters once they’re captured.

A dollar can have a lot of built-in security measures. Each of these measures requires resources for both development and implementation. Research and development is needed first to come up with measures that make dollars harder to counterfeit, then manufacturing machinery capable of implementing those measures must be developed, purchased, powered, and maintained.

Then you have the task of punishing captured counterfeiters. The first step in this process is writing and passing legislation, which can be an incredibly inefficient process. The legislation itself is meaningless though, it merely authorizes the allocation of resources for law enforcers. Dollars are probably the most common target of currency counterfeiters, which means the amount of law enforcement effort needed to find and capture counterfeiters is significant, especially when you consider the fact that such efforts must be global in scale. Once captured the counterfeiters must then be tried and, if found guilty, imprisoned. The court system isn’t designed for efficiency and prisons, like the previously mentioned secure warehouses, require a lot of resources to build, operate, and maintain.

What I’ve presented is an incomplete summary of the resources needed to maintain a fiat currency. It’s easy to see that they’re not a resource efficient as many people suspect. Criticizing cryptocurrencies for being inefficient without comparing such inefficiency to their biggest competitors, fiat currencies, is disingenuous and meaingless.

A First

For the first time in the history of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) an officer has been found guilty of murder while operating in an official capacity:

Mohamed Noor became the first former Minnesota police officer found guilty of an on-duty murder Tuesday as a Hennepin County jury convicted him for the fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond in 2017.

Jurors reached their verdict after about 10 hours of sequestered deliberations in a case that was closely watched nationwide and in Damond’s native Australia. They convicted Noor of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter but acquitted him of the most serious count — second-degree murder.

I’ve been following this case through Lou Raguse’s Twitter account since he was one of the handful of journalists granted access to the trial. The main thing I took away from the trial was the extent to which MPD went to cover up the murder. From body cameras not being turned on at critical moments to Noor’s squad car being washed and returned to service the very next day it was pretty obvious that MPD went as far as it could to cover the up the evidence of this murder. However, the case was so blatant that those efforts ended up being in vain.

There is currently a pending civil case brought by the family of Justine Damond against the City of Minneapolis. The evidence revealed during Noor’s trial will likely provide a lot of legal ammunition for Justine’s family’s case. I hope the City of Minneapolis gets soaked for the entire $50 million being sought. It’s obvious that MPD and the government tasked with overseeing it are horribly corrupt and they deserve some swift and severe punishment.

Keeping the Slaves in Their Place

Not only is New Zealand punishing gun owners, it is also punishing slaves who expressed themselves improperly:

The United States is unusual in offering near-absolute protection for free speech under the First Amendment. Most other countries—even liberal democracies—have more extensive systems of online and offline censorship. That difference has been on display this week as New Zealand authorities have begun prosecuting people for sharing copies of last week’s white supremacist mass shooting in Christchurch and for posting hate speech in the wake of the attack.

[…]

Distributing objectionable materials online comes with stiff legal penalties. One man—the 44-year-old owner of an insulation company with alleged neo-Nazi sympathies—has been arrested and charged with two counts of distributing objectionable materials in violation of New Zealand’s Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act. He is being held without bail and could be sentenced to as much as 14 years in prison for each offense.

If you want to judge some of humanity and find them wanting, go to the comments section of that story and read all of the comments by the fascists who support this nonsense (or, just as bad in my opinion, believe the punishment is too severe but otherwise support the law).

I personally object to the ideas expressed by white supremacists and pretty much every other type of collectivist. I’ll even remove their garbage from my site. However, I object even more strongly against the idea that a government should be allowed to punish somebody for what they say, even if it’s the vilest thing imaginable. But I learned long ago that I’m a rather rare breed because I believe individual freedom trumps the demands of the unwashed masses (often referred to as democracy).