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Bads, Wads, and the Unlikelihood of Reason: Thoughts On Two Verdicts
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Oh God, oh God. Can we humans not contract out our governance to, say, cephalopods and stop trying to manage our own affairs? I mean, really. Girl octopodes are both smart and leggy. They aren’t crazy. What more do we want?

Recently we have had the verdicts in the Rittenhouse and Arbery trials, with which I assume the reader to be at least broadly familiar. If you are not, I congratulate you for avoiding the grocery-store tabloid intellectual level regnant in America.

Today, everything is identity politics, emotion, and herd instinct. Loyalty to one’s herd trumps all else, to include truth. Outside the courtroom, treatment of both trials was racial, ideological and, often, disingenuous if not dishonest. Inside the courtroom, neither was. This pack-instinct politics is an embarrassment.

In both cases, we have Black Advocates, and White Advocates (hereinafter Bads and Wads to avoid typing fatigue) squalling at each other. The Wads have never seen a white man who was guilty and the Bads, one who wasn’t. I don’t think I have ever encountered so much tendentious twaddle in one place, and I have lived in Washington.

But the juries got both right. For a practicing curmudgeon, this is devastating. There may be a hidden underlying vein of reason in the country.

In the Rittenhouse matter, the case, that the kid shot in self-defense, is obvious on the facts. The jury agreed. In Arbery, the defense of the killers is weak, contrived, and illogical. The jury agreed.

Now, Arbery, briefly: Arbery was a black man who on at least five occasions (is said to have) entered a suburban house under construction, walked around, sometimes on surveillance video, and left without stealing anything. In Georgia, this is called “criminal trespass,” and is a misdemeanor, like littering. No theft, no vandalism, no burglary, no felony.

On the day of his death, Arbery, a known jogger, came out of the house, carrying nothing, not anything stolen, not a weapon, not a cellphone, and ran down the street. The three killers, assuming on no evidence that he must have committed a crime, began chasing him in two pickups. They ran him down in a chase lasting five minutes, used the trucks to force him in desired directions, trapped him on a street between the trucks. Apparently Arbery, exhausted and desperate, cornered, attacked the guy who had a twelve-gauge pump, who killed him with it. One of the three took video during the chase.

They later said they killed him in self-defense and claimed that they were conducting a citizen’s arrest. The latter claim, farfetched and not occurring until well after the event, was the only possible defense a lawyer could come up with. I suspect a lawyer did come up with it.

The self-defense approach doesn’t fly. If you are the aggressors, as for example chasing with pickups a frightened man, and you kill him when he finally fights back, in law you cannot claim self-defense. And when the odds are three men and two guns against an unarmed defender, self-defense is not persuasive.

Here the story becomes sordid. When I heard shortly after the killing that there would be no indictments, I thought, uh-huh, the fix is in. And the fix was indeed in. One of the killers who had worked in law enforcement called his friend, Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson, and got her to prevent an investigation, for which she was later indicted on a felony charge. The investigation and arrest came months later and only after the video went viral.

The jury found all three guilty of murder, whereupon white advocates called the proceedings a show trial, political, with the jury being intimidated, anti-white, and the like.

None of this is true. (If you have the interest and spare time, here is the prosecutions case in its entirety. Judge for yourself.) In identity politics, a show trial is one in which the verdict is not the one one’s herd wants. The jury is then said to be woke, corrupt, left-wing, right-wing, suborned, racist, white-hating, what have you It can’t be that the jury even-handedly pondered the facts and came to a considered conclusion.

Wads, as much as Bads, just make up evidence. Various WADs stated as fact that Arbery, who frequently jogged through the neighborhood, did so “casing” it for future theft. Since there is no evidence that Arbery committed burglary, ever, this is invention. There is much innuendo, as for example stating that many thefts had occurred in the neighborhood and inviting the reader to conclude that Arbury was the thief. There is exactly no evidence for this.

In libel law this sort of thing is called “actual malice” or “reckless disregard of truth.” But the dead can’t sue.

Why the desperate attempt to find a felony for Arbery to have committed? Because without one, the defense of making a citizen’s arrest doesn’t fly. That leaves them having hunted Arbery down and killed him with no authority to do so. This is called “murder.”

Citizen’s arrest: A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge. If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a person may arrest him on reasonable or probable grounds of suspicion.

The claim of making a citizen’s arrest smells to high heaven. There was no felony. Arbery came out of the house carrying nothing, as the killers could see. No felony had been committed in their presence since none had been committed at all. Further, statements by the three themselves show that they didn’t think Arbery had stolen anything, or didn’t know whether he had. These gut the defense of citizen’s arrest.

When the sheriff showed up, they would certainly have told him approximately, “We thought he was a burglar and so we wanted to hold him until the police came.” They didn’t. They didn’t tell Arbery they were making a citizen’s arrest.

Many seem not to understand the importance of this. The only question in the trial was whether the three were conducting a legitimate citizen’s arrest. If not, then with no right or authority whatsoever they had chased down a man who had not committed a felony, and killed him. That, ladies and gentlemen, is called “murder.”

Let us consider events from Arbury’s standpoint. He was out for a jog, as he had been many times before. He poked around the building site, as he and others had done before. He stole nothing. He didn’t know that he was a burglar in the eyes of the three paladins of justice. He didn’t know that they were planning a citizen’s arrest. Suddenly, armed white men in a pickup accost him, trying to cut him off. This is terrifying. They don’t tell him why. One says, or later claims to have, “I want to talk to you,” probably not in a chirpy voice with a broad smile. From Arbury’s point of view, this is not promising. Remember, he lives in Georgia. Arbury doesn’t reply, as why should he? He tries to evade, which is exactly what I would do. It is, I suspect, what a white person would do if cut off by armed blacks.

What should he have done, trapped, probably scared witless, with a white man pointing a shotgun at him? What does a black man in these circumstances believe to be the intentions of his pursuers? A beating? A rope? Burning? Death? To a white advocate in northern suburbs these may seem silly questions. To a black in Georgia, they don’t. His decision, to fight, got him killed.

It is interesting here to ask what the identity groups would have said had the races been reversed. For example, if three blacks had run down a white college student in otherwise identical circumstances. Or, if Rittenhouse had been a black kid attacked by Republicans, saying that his intent was to protect the right of BLM to hold lawful demonstrations. I think we all know the answer. And, when a nearly all-white jury in the Deep South convicts three white men of killing a black man, you can bet they believe it.

Guilty as charged.


FRED REED describes himself as [previously] a “Washington police reporter, former Washington editor for Harper’s and staff writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine, Marine combat vet from Viet Nam, and former long-haul hitchhiker, part-time sociopath, who once lived in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Yankee Capital.”
His essays “on the collapse of America” Mr. Reed calls “wildly funny, sometimes wacky, always provocative.”
“Fred is the Hunter Thompson of the right,” seconds Thomas E. Ricks in Foreign Policy magazine. His commentary is “well-written, pungent political incorrectness mixed with smart military commentary and libertarian impulses, topped off with a splash of Third World sunshine and tequila.”




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  1. BuelahMan says:

    I unsubscribed from Fred’s email notifications over this (just another of MANY bogus articles).

    What should he have done, trapped, probably scared witless, with a white man pointing a shotgun at him? What does a black man in these circumstances believe to be the intentions of his pursuers? A beating? A rope? Burning? Death? To a white advocate in northern suburbs these may seem silly questions. To a black in Georgia, they don’t. His decision, to fight, got him killed


    Oddly, a black person who WAS seen multiple times at the very same house (that DID have things stolen from it over the months of construction) might think that he has been caught by a neighborhood watch. And since he had several other run-ins with cops and others, he did not want jail time. So, his only recourse (he thought) was to evade their questions and citizen’s arrest AND to attack an armed man, who could have just shot the dude from the truck, had that been the intent.

    Fred seemingly thinks that Arbery was just an innocent astronaut in the making.

    I think that Fred has lost his stupid mind.

    • Replies: @Bite Moi
  2. On the day of his death, Arbery, a known jogger,

    I didn’t click on the link, but yeah, he was known as The Jogger alright: by all the merchants in town because he would pretend to be jogging, case their stores, then jog in, steal something and jog out.

    I was feeling so at peace believing that Fred had taken all his marbles and moved on. Now, with this series of catch-up posts it looks like Fred or someone just forgot to make his regular posts. Darn.

    With this column Fred returns true to form, being ignorant spouting mis-information like a scatter gun full of skeet shot.

    They ran him down in a chase lasting five minutes, used the trucks to force him in desired directions, trapped him on a street between the trucks.

    They did not run him down nor did they trap him. There was plenty of space to keep running into a property. Arbery chose to rush a gun. Police are trained over and over again to never let someone take their weapon. Arbery was attempting to take his weapon. Arbery could have simply surrendered, he had that choice, but Arbery resisted the (citizen’s) arrest. There was always a choice.

    It was so clearly self-defense, but apparently the judge denied self-defense as a defense for the men.

    This ruling will be overturned in higher courts.

    Fred is a dumbass. No one knows why he continues to write stuff he doesn’t have any idea about. But he does. Welcome back, Fredder.

  3. Posses, right to bear arms, shoot indians and run away slaves. And then brag about it. Long tradition in US.

  4. The spectre at the feast in the Arbery case was the question of why an unarmed man would attack three men, at least one of which he knew to be armed? Such an attack would, on the face of it, appear to be unlikely.
    There are several reasons to explain Arbery’s attack, none of which the jury was allowed to hear:
    He had a history of mental instability.
    He had a criminal record for theft.
    He was known in the neighborhood for continual shoplifting.
    If the jury had been allowed to hear these facts the verdict may well have been quite different.

  5. TLJ says:

    Bit of an idiot, aren’t we?

  6. cestall says:

    A lot of stupidity and ignorance here. It’s doesn’t matter to a charge, ever, what you “think” someone was doing at the time. What matters is your culpable mental state and totality of circumstances at the moment you pull the trigger. No, this is not my opinion. This is legal FACT. I don’t care that you don’t like it. Amber Geiger was guilty of murder, because (and she said as much) that her intent when she fired her gun was to kill the “intruder.” Murder. A shame that she was tired an in the wrong apartment? Sure. Still, her intent at that moment was clear, and the fact was that she was in someone else’s residence.

    • Replies: @Jokem
  7. Jokem says:

    I am wondering why me Jean did not lock his apartment?
    Does one key fit all the locks in the apartment complex?
    Not in any apartment I have ever been in.
    As soon as Amber’s key did not work it would have been a clue she was in the wrong place.
    Can anyone here speak to that?

  8. Bite Moi says:

    Joggers are just……………doing cardio.

  9. RMax368 says:

    I can’t help but notice that this has all the hallmarks of a 2021 American issue.
    Missing facts, dramatic responses, all or nothing agreement or disagreement
    For a start, I’m pretty sure Fred is human. No really. Reading his stuff for years I have seen well written and sometimes startlingly well thought out pieces. Also powerfully emotional ones. I have seen things that I do not agree with a few times and have even responded to his column when I did. I’m fairly sure he read the comment.
    In a choice between intelligent, thoughtful, human and slightly flawed or the rigidly bound good-think that is always right I would take the real human any day.

    What has been raised is a good point. Arbery probably was stealing stuff. He had before. He was miles from home, he probably drove there to do his “jog”. He hadn’t been taking his medication that helped him control his aggression.
    But the point is that “probably” is not the same as the legal right to detain and question that an acting officer has. And that legal right is very much the issue in this case. That was what was discussed in the article. If you advocate the dispensing of justice on the basis of “well you just know he was” then you are opening the door to the madness that permeates the left wing types.
    Does that make the judgement totally “right”? Well when Rittenhouse was released there were a few more facts of interest. He was in jail for the entire time he was on trial. Convicted murderers were let out during the same time period to kill again. His defense cost over a million dollars. With a $1000 defense who knows if he would have got off?
    In the Arbery case they were found guilty, but how does the sentence compare? They did something wrong, but so did Arbery in response. How many other killers received this much time in all the other cases that were tried this year?
    The important thing is that these issues are separate. They need to be discussed separately in the kind of way where being right in one thing doesn’t automatically make you right in everything (like the left wingers are). If Fred is perhaps partly wrong about the cases he is dead right about the polarisation and group identity thinking that the left wing types are forcing on the rest of us.
    I would recommend not giving in to it, or you become another left wing type, just on a different side.

  10. Anonymous[324] • Disclaimer says:


    “Known Joggers” do not wear long-legged, khaki pants while jogging. Yet, the “known jogger” you cite in your column, did.

    So the “known jogger” defense is not a hill anyone (with an i.q. above freezing) would want to die upon.

    Most of the rest of what you said made sense. (I do criminal defense work as a trial attorney in another state, so I have a pretty good idea of what I am talking about when it comes to crimes, criminals, etc.)

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