Kyle Rittenhouse is not guilty of murdering two men during protests in Kenosha, WI in 2020. He wants to continue life as a college student at Arizona State University, where he enrolled in online courses before the start of the court proceedings.
Some students want him withdrawn from the university. They couldn’t be more wrong.
You can blame Rittenhouse for many things and lousy symbolism in connection to the deaths, which are now classified in legal history as self-defense but will live in pop culture history as homicides. Views of how he was charged, the allegiance of the judge, the effectiveness of prosecution, and the prevailing stereotype that white men can get away with murder are valid but not applicable in the chapter Rittenhouse is trying to author for life after exoneration.
Like anyone else looking to better their circumstances in life after facing life-stalling odds in the legal system, he’s allowed to pay for and earn a college education. Rittenhouse is no different from criminals who work towards the same goals in second-chance programs instituted by prisons and higher education systems: except for the one major difference of him not being a convicted criminal.
The moment that an institution even moves to strip away the constitutional rights of a free man just because he faced the prospect of conviction is when culture will set a new and unfortunate standard in education and criminal justice. This case is not even as complex as the notion of accused rapists on campus, who are allowed due process without being removed and, more frequently, are not being granted that right.
Rittenhouse is a hero to the right who seeks validation for opposing Black Lives Matter protests and supporting relaxed or non-existent guns laws. He’s a villain to the left who want an end to white supremacy, real and perceived, and dramatic reform in the criminal justice system.
He probably didn’t seek out either label and may even embrace more one than the other. Neither of those banners should restrict him from pursuing education.