No Sympathy For A Cold-Blooded Killer

A 17-year-old punk leaves his home in Illinois, travels to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where there are protests against the police brutality that left Jacob Blake paralyzed from the waist down, and walks up and down the street carrying an assault rifle.  Seventeen years old.  He should be home studying, or working at the local McDonald’s to save for college, but instead he is about to become a cold-blooded killer.  He did not have a permit for the gun, and in fact was too young to obtain one … he was not legally allowed to have that weapon in his possession.

As Kyle Rittenhouse walked down the streets of Kenosha with another armed man, a police officer in an armoured vehicle asked him if he needed some water, then tossed him a bottle of water, saying, “We appreciate you guys, we really do.”  A short time later, Kyle Rittenhouse used his AR-15 to shoot three people, two of whom died.  Since police were all over the place, it only makes sense that he was arrested on the spot, right?  But no … even though at this point, people were shouting to the police that he was the shooter, and even though he walked right up to the police, police officers simply waved him away and told him to get off the streets!  He returned to his home in Antioch, Illinois, a short time later, without any interference from law enforcement in Wisconsin.  He was arrested by Antioch police the following afternoon.

Kyle Rittenhouse would have been shot dead on the spot by police if he had been a black teenager instead of a white one.  But wait … for it gets even worse.

It may have started with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson when, rather than condemning a 17-year-old killer, he attempted to justify it …

“So, are we really surprised that looting and arson accelerated to murder? How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would? Everyone could see what was happening in Kenosha. It was getting crazier by the hour.”

Or perhaps it started with the Facebook post by Arthur Love, a member of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s staff, sympathizing with Rittenhouse, saying in one post …

“I’m grateful that conservatives are rallying behind this kid. He genuinely seems like a good person.”

A “good person”???  Good people do not even own assault weapons, let alone go looking for an excuse to kill!!!  Mr. Love was fired on Saturday, and rightly so.

Wherever and however it started, there is growing support for this 17-year-old murderer, and funds have even been started to help pay his legal fees!  One fundraiser, on a Christian crowdfunding website called Give Send Go, raised more than $65,000 as of last Thursday evening. People have donated $7,460 to the teen through a site called Free Kyle Rittenhouse.

GoFundMe, one of the most popular and widely used crowdfunding websites, has taken down multiple fundraisers for Rittenhouse. GoFundMe spokesperson Angelique McNaughton said Thursday the platform removed the fundraisers because they violated GoFundMe’s terms of service which specifically forbids people from using the platform to raise money for “the implicit or explicit purpose of or involving for the legal defense of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, serious disabilities or diseases, financial crimes or crimes of deception.”

And, according to an article in The Guardian

“Fundraisers, messages of support and celebratory memes for the alleged Kenosha, Wisconsin, mass shooter are being shared widely on Facebook and Instagram, despite the company’s assurance on Wednesday that it was working to enforce its policy banning content that “praises, supports, or represents” mass shooters.

One fundraiser for Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was shared more than 17,700 times on Facebook, including by 291 public groups and pages with more than 3.9m aggregate followers, according to data from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned data analytics tool. A second fundraiser garnered 1,698 shares on the platform, including by an additional 17 pages and groups with nearly 400,000 followers.”

I encourage you to read the entire article, for it is truly shocking.

This, perhaps more than anything else, defines what is wrong in this nation today.  That people have empathy for a young punk using an assault weapon to kill people is … well, it just blows my mind.  Personally, I would like to see him tried, convicted, and spend the rest of his life in prison.  I would also like to see his parents pay a price, for it is obvious to me that they failed miserably in raising this child.  Since he was only seventeen, he was legally still under their guardianship, and it seems to me they must share some of the blame.

Rittenhouse claims it was self-defense, but he went there looking for trouble, so the self-defense argument simply does not fly.  How can people support this punk?  How can anyone justify what he did?  Those who can, it seems obvious to me, are people who value their guns more than human life, people who believe in vigilante justice, and people who are, at the core, white supremacists.  They are part of what is wrong in this nation today, and is likely to get worse before it gets better.

GoFundMe … at your own risk

I am a pragmatist, but I am either cursed or blessed, sometimes both, with a too-tender heart.  I have helped many over the years, both financially and in other ways, and will continue to do so as I am able.  I cry when I read of injustices and to this day cannot speak of 9/11 without tears.  I believe that when people need help, they should be able to ask for it without being ridiculed or shamed.  All that said, I am stunned by the number of people using a relatively new (since 2010) internet service called GoFundMe to solicit cash donations from people, presumably friends and family.

Wikipedia defines GoFundMe as “a crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for events ranging from life events such as celebrations and graduations to challenging circumstances like accidents and illnesses.”  GoFundMe allows users to create their own website to describe what they are raising money for. During this process, members can describe their fundraising cause, the amount they hope to raise, and upload photos or video. Once the website is created, GoFundMe allows users to share their project with people through integrated social network links (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and email. People can then donate to a user’s cause through the website using only a debit card or credit card and track the progress of their funding. Those who donate can also leave comments on the website in support of the project. GoFundMe generates revenue by automatically deducting a 5% fee from each donation users receive. If the user receives no donations, then no charge is made. In 2015 GoFundMe announced that the site would no longer support legal defense funds on their platform. The news came after the site suspended funding for the defense of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery that was fined for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.  Well, at least there are some values here.

Yesterday, a family friend was soliciting funds through GoFundMe for a friend who is undergoing a serious illness.  A worthy cause, most assuredly, however there are other, more reliable means for obtaining assistance with medical bills.  Then today, a casual acquaintance notified me that his daughter is soliciting funds (requesting $6,000) to get her vehicle repaired.  This is really just a simplified version of begging.  Simplified, that is, for the solicitor … he or she does not have to be bothered to call a friend or relative, explain the situation, and ask to borrow money.  Which brings me to my next point …

Donations through GoFundMe are just that … donations.  I have no problem with a friend saying, “my car is broken and I cannot afford to get it fixed right now. Can you lend me $500 to help me get it fixed?”  In most cases, if I can spare $500 at that time, and if I know this person will do their best to repay me in a timely fashion, I will gladly lend him the $500.  And I will expect to be repaid based on whatever terms we agree upon.  But with GoFundMe, there is no commitment to repay, no intent.  It is a handout, plain and simple.  Since I donate regularly to a local Food Bank, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and a local ‘no-kill’ shelter, I am not inclined to donate to individuals who are asking for a handout for a prom dress, car repair, or a trip abroad (yes, I have one friend who solicits funds for a ‘missionary’ trip to Europe every year!).  I even saw one request for money to throw a birthday party – for herself!

What bothers me most, I think, is that the people asking for these funds are not the truly downtrodden, the people who are almost completely without hope, who are trying to raise children with no job, but these are people not much different that myself, who may struggle from time-to-time, but could find a way to solve their own financial difficulties if they tried.  But since there is GoFundMe, they apparently think it is simpler and less stressful to just ask for money through the internet, then there is no face-to-face commitment, no obligation to repay in any way.  In doing some research, I found that many of the GoFundMe projects are requesting donations of over $100,000, and some as high as $800,000.  There are, indeed, many worthy causes, but this still just feels wrong to me.  Furthermore, there is really no way to know if that cause that sounds so worthy is really legitimate.  I would be willing to bet that there are some that are simply people hoping to get money to buy a luxury car or take a cruise to the Bahamas.

As with anything else, let the buyer beware.  One other thing … neither GoFundMe nor any of the projects or people using it are registered charities, so your donation is not tax-deductible. As for me, I think I shall continue to ignore these requests.