News & Politics

Let's Not Forget That Kyle Rittenhouse Is Still a Teenager

Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool

By now I’m sure you’ve seen the footage of Kyle Rittenhouse as he heard the verdict in his trial. Seeing his emotion made me emotional. But it also reminded me of something: he’s still a teenager.

There’s been so much wrapped up in this case that we can almost lose sight of the fact that Kyle isn’t a political football to be tossed around by both sides. He’s not a hero to the Second Amendment — and thank God he didn’t become a martyr to the far-left protesters.

He’s just a kid.

(Okay, he’s a young man, but I tend to think of anybody younger than I am as a kid, so there you go.)

I can’t imagine being thrust into the glare of the national media spotlight at the age of 18. When I was 18, I just wanted to go to the University of Georgia and become a writer. (It took a while, but I made it…) I have a hard time imagining what he and his family are going through.

There are probably plenty of people who want Kyle to become a spokesman for the cause of gun rights and self-defense and individuals and organizations who would want him to “endorse” them, kind of like some sort of political version of the name-image-likeness offers that college athletes have nowadays.

But parents, would you want your 18-year-old trotted out on the news every day for a fortnight, especially after being the focus of a year-plus-long news cycle? Would you want him or her to become the official spokesteen of any cause — even if it was one you believed in with all your heart?

Now that the nightmare of his trial is over, we need to let Kyle get back to being Kyle. He’s lost nearly a year and a half of his life to this unimaginable nightmare. (And yes, I’m willing to join the chorus that he probably shouldn’t have been in Kenosha that night.) If anybody deserves to get back to a normal life, it’s this kid.

Related: Let’s Get One Thing Straight: The Kyle Rittenhouse Trial Is Not About ‘White Supremacy’

I understand that he wants to become a nurse. That’s what we should let him do. Let’s let him go to school, get his education, and become a healthcare hero. His experiences could easily give him an even better grasp of how people react to traumatic situations. Surely he’ll be more sympathetic than most.

My prayer throughout the trial was that justice would be served. Now I pray that Kyle and his family have grown from this experience and that they experience safety and protection. I also pray that they can return to a normal life.

At the end of the day, that’s the best thing for everyone involved. Kyle Rittenhouse, defendant needs to become Kyle Rittenhouse, normal teen. So everyone needs to leave him alone and let him have the opportunity to enjoy the life of freedom that being an American affords all of us.

Let’s let Kyle go back to being Kyle.