Sam Ashworth-Hayes Sam Ashworth-Hayes

Kyle Rittenhouse and the failure of the American state

Kyle Rittenhouse (Photo: Getty)

Kyle Rittenhouse is innocent. We knew that anyway, but the simple fact of something being true in no way guarantees that the legal system will recognise it. In this case, we are fortunate that law and reality have decided to agree with one another. Kyle Rittenhouse is innocent, but the state remains on trial.

There will be a great deal of commentary after the Rittenhouse trial about ‘what this verdict says about America’. You can see the first green shoots beginning to emerge even now; news outlets are talking about the ‘racial justice protests’ in Kenosha and how the verdict demonstrates the fundamental racial inequities of American society, or even how failing gun laws allowed this to happen. These are the wrong issues to focus on.

When the state abandons its responsibilities, people get hurt

When the state abandons its responsibilities, people get hurt. Some people are hurt when their businesses are burned down, or when protests get a little too ‘mostly peaceful’. And some people are hurt when the people they’re attacking fight back.

The entire point of providing a police force is to stop this from happening. This should never have happened in a functioning state. The police should not back away from policing riots because the press repeatedly tell them that they’re morally justified, or because Twitter users insist that shops have insurance, or that it’s okay to ‘want nice things’ and loot them. They should not leave businesses to burn or people to be assaulted, because when they do this people will naturally take the law into their own hands. And they will not be wholly unjustified in doing so.

The deal is very simple. The state provides protection, and in return it receives a monopoly on the legitimate use of force and the generous funding of the taxpayer.

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