Tribal Lenses and Criminal Justice

Our reactions to recent murder trials tells us a lot about our divided country.

Gun Control is Jim Crow protester
“RVA Pro Gun Rally 2020-11” by Mobilus In Mobili is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In a post titled simply “The Tribes,” Dave Schuler observes,

Yesterday I did something I rarely do following the verdict in the trial for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery: I went around to prominent left-leaning, right-leaning, and libertarian blogs and read their comments to get a sense of the opinions expressed there. The reason I rarely do that is that I tend to feel vaguely soiled after doing it. The incivility and intolerance of views that diverge from the prevailing norm is even greater than it was a few years ago.

I identified three different views: those who expressed the view that I did, those who thought that Wisconsin jury came to the right verdict but the Georgia jury came to the wrong verdict, and those who thought the opposite—that the Wisconsin jury in the Rittenhouse trial came to the wrong verdict but the Georgia jury came to the right verdict.

Although all three views were expressed in the comments sections of blogs of all stripes, the Wisconsin-Yes, Georgia-No view was more frequently expressed on right-leaning blogs while the opposite (Wisconsin-No, Georgia-Yes) was more frequently expressed on left-leaning blogs. I honestly don’t see how these conflicting tribes can coexist peaceably.

Dave and I had the same view: that Kyle Rittenhouse should have been acquitted and that Ahmaud Arbery’s killers should have been convicted given the applicable laws and circumstances. Additionally, we shared the same reasoning on the former: “Rittenhouse was in fact defending himself but he shouldn’t have been there at that time, doing what he was doing and armed. That was a formula for tragedy.”

Despite having identified with the right most of my life, the prevailing view of that tribe is, alas, the most difficult for me to understand. While my initial reaction to that case was that the state prosecutors had kowtowed to political pressure in overriding local officials and that Arbery’s assailants were likely acting within the ambit of extant Georgia law, it didn’t take long for new evidence to change my mind on both counts. (That is, it was local officials who had grossly misapplied the law, my initial understanding of the law was wrong, and ditto my initial understanding of the facts of the case.) While I’m sure that a whole lot of people stopped paying attention to the case and therefore didn’t have an understanding of the law and facts, I just can’t imagine the person who understood the facts and thought it was reasonable for the defendants to kill Arbery.

Most of the OTB commentariat shared the left-leaning view that the Georgia outcome was just and the Wisconsin outcome was not. I at least understand that view. Rittenhouse acted irresponsibly, at best, and maliciously at worst in showing up at a Black Lives Matter rally armed. That he has escaped any consequence for that—and been turned into a hero by some in his tribe—is in fact unjust. Alas, like it or not, he right a right to defend himself under the laws of Wisconsin—and pretty much anywhere else in this country—under the circumstances.

The problem, I think, is twofold. First, many people simply disagree with the law and implicitly wanted the jury to find him guilty anyway. Second, because they were BLM protestors killed by an assault rifle-wielding Trump supporter, too many are making angels of the assailants. Joseph Rosenbaum, the initial assailant, was anything but. Aside from being a serial child molester (which Rittenhouse obviously wouldn’t have known), multiple witnesses characterized him as belligerent and confrontational. He was seriously mentally ill, and thus pitiable, but Rittenhouse had every reason to fear for his safety.

Now, contra Dave, I would argue that these tribes have existed for a very long time and are seldom called upon to coexist in that they tend to be geographically segregated, with the Wisconsin-No, Georgia-Yes folks predominantly in the urban centers and the Wisconsin-Yes, Georgia-No folks in the suburbs and rural areas. What’s different now is that we have nationalized cases like these, which would have been local matters, and are viewing them through competing media frames.

Most of the national media, including great newspapers like the NYT and WaPo, NPR, and the major networks are treating these individual cases as representative examples of institutionalized racism in our criminal justice system. That was true even in the Rittenhouse case, where everyone involved was White. And, if that’s how you’ve viewed the case for months, an acquittal, no matter how legally proper, is yet another bit of evidence that white supremacists can get away with murder.

Conversely, Fox News and the various “dark” venues (the Chans, QAnon, Newsmax, etc.) are applying an even more sinister frame. The fact that these men were even charged with crimes is just further evidence that the anti-gun left is trying to take America away from the decent, God-fearing people who built it.

In this world, we’re not entitled to our own opinions, we’re entitled to our own facts. And, yes, it’s nearly impossible to have a conversation across the tribes when the only evidence that’s acceptable is that from their own sources.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Crime, Law and the Courts, Media, Society
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tony W says:

    James, this is an excellent take, and it is hard to disagree with you – even on the Rittenhouse verdict.

    Until this country admits our racist past and reconciles ourselves to it we will be forever in this cycle of division, locked in our own perspectives talking past each other.

    I believe we need a South Africa-style Truth and Reconciliation Commission with well-respected people participating and communicating back to their communities. SA didn’t solve racism, but they did seem to come to accept Nelson Mandela as a good man and a legitimate leader, and that’s several steps beyond where the U.S. is today.

    5
  2. JohnMcC says:

    Possibly worth adding to the discussion is that the prosecutor who was apparently sweeping the murder under the rug has been charged with obstruction and has been arrested.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/jackie-johnson-ahmaud-arbery-prosecutor-charged-obstruction/

    4
  3. Jim Brown 32 says:

    I disagee that believing the Wisconsin jury came to the wrong verdict is, a “left-leaning view”. Its a law and order view.

    12 different people on that jury could have easily decided the threshold for deadly force had not been met and convicted him for manslaughter…which he committed.

    The law acknowledges, to varying degree, that there is a duty to responsibility wield the power of death in a dispute. That threshold is more subjective in some places than others. The bottom line is the community in Kenosha did not like the protestors or the protests so the jury wasn’t going to convict the enemy of their enemies.

    No amount of chin-stroking analysis can demonstrate that there was no pathway for the decision to go the other way once their were lesser charges available.

    And realistically, its probably a fair assumption that no jury is going to rule in favor of any group of people (right or left) that come to their town looting and burning…if given any amount of subjective latitude.

    11
  4. de stijl says:

    @Tony W:

    The US right would have a huge and mighty full freak-out if such a commission were to be established here.

    Think of the outrage they ginned up by an anodyne memo by the DOJ stating that threats against school board members and school administrators and staff are illegal and actioable when they cross the line. Basically daddy reminding people that disagreements are cool, but threats of physical violence are not cool. Chill the fuck out everybody, okay?

    The US right seized upon that memo with righteous glee. Mischaracterized it with joyful abandon. Held it up as proof of leftist indoctrination and authoritarianism.

    A Truth and Reconciliation Commission here would be howled at and used for partisan outrage.

    I think we are damned, honestly. We crossed the Rubicon. Downhill from here. The right can no longer police itself and the rabble want a bloody reset.

    9
  5. charon says:

    No amount of chin-stroking analysis can demonstrate that there was no pathway for the decision to go the other way once their were lesser charges available.

    Really? Were there any lesser charges proven by the prosecutors’ actual presentation? (I have not followed the case closely enough to know, but I think that is a consuderation).

  6. James Joyner says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    The law acknowledges, to varying degree, that there is a duty to responsibility wield the power of death in a dispute.

    Sure. But Rosenbaum was belligerent and threatening. Rittenhouse ran away and Rosenbaum chased him down and assaulted him. Rittenhouse had every reason to fear for his safety and, armed with a rifle that Rosenbaum was attempting to take away, he fired his weapon. Another assailant than came in and hit him with a skateboard. Another aimed a pistol at him.
    I think the jurors simply concluded, “Under those circumstances, I would have killed those three men, too.”

    2
  7. Modulo Myself says:

    I don’t think it’s possible to convince non-conservatives that there’s a just reason for anyone who shows up at a protest with an AR-15 to have the right suddenly to withdraw. Legally, the jury made the correct decision based on the evidence on hand. But that’s just a consequence of laws formed around normal situations, not those produced by a society of gun freaks. Had there been no video of the Arbery case, they probably would have walked and no conservative would believe the obvious from the get-go: which was that Arbery was hunted down by racists.

    Similarly, I don’t think it’s possible to convince conservatives that showing up with a gun and alarming people and talking whatever trash Rittenhouse was talking (this was a kid who saw a video of shoplifters and talked about wasting them with his AR-15) is in any way connected to being attacked. Conservatives seem to relish acting in an alienating way and then taking the responses to their behavior as proof of their persecution. There’s not much you can do with that as a whole.

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  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    My default assumption is to trust the jury. They have information I don’t have. The Rittenhouse jury followed the law – which is all they were empowered to do – but law and justice are not the same thing. In the Arbery case the jury decision was clearly correct, but just as clearly the case was very nearly swept under the rug by corrupt local cops and prosecutors. So, again, a correct decision, but justice demands that the law enforcement folks who failed to do their duty be investigated.

    7
  9. Sleeping Dog says:

    On the surface Rittenhouse and McMichael’s claims of self defense were similar, but the differences made these different cases. Add to that how WI self defense laws have been interpreted differently for GA, a judge who made controversial rulings, while making himself the a center of attention v. a judge in GA who allowed the trial to develop and whose rulings were unsurprising and most importantly prosecutor competence. The prosecutors in WI appeared mediocre at best, while Linda Dunikoski was masterful in the Arbery trial. In her closing summation she made the point that a general rule of life is, “Don’t go looking for trouble.” That made sense to the jury and undermined the defendants’ defense. Rittenhouse violated the same rule, but the prosecution didn’t make that point stick.

    4
  10. Moosebreath says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    “I don’t think it’s possible to convince non-conservatives that there’s a just reason for anyone who shows up at a protest with an AR-15 to have the right suddenly to withdraw.”

    Repeated for emphasis. If one is openly carrying a military-style weapon, then it is nearly impossible for me to believe they are not looking for a reason to use the weapon.

    “Legally, the jury made the correct decision based on the evidence on hand.” I agree with this is as well. As the saying goes, the outrage is not what’s illegal, it’s what’s legal.

    3
  11. Fog says:

    White Supremacy and democracy cannot survive together. We’ve been papering it over since 1775, but it is nonetheless true. Racists stand in bloody opposition to the concept that all people are created equal in the eyes of God. For them, equal rights for all people would literally mean the end of their world. And they’re not ready for that. Not ever.

    7
  12. gVOR08 says:

    (For conservatives) The fact that these men were even charged with crimes is just further evidence that the anti-gun left is trying to take America away from the decent, God-fearing people who built it.

    That is very true, but only if you take into account that for conservatives guns and race are deeply intertwined. And the guns are the real problem. Would Rittenhouse even have gone to Kenosha without his cosplay rifle? Would those three rednecks have chased down a young football player without their guns? And even if they had, without the guns probably nothing much would have happened,

    But as long as GOPs dominate SCOTUS, there’s nothing much we can do about the guns everywhere.

    5
  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’m increasingly frustrated by race as the single bullet explanation of our problems. It’s clearly a good thing that more people are aware of racism, but racism is a symptom as much as it is a cause. I continue to believe that gender is the larger driver of our current problems, in particular the fact that there is now no unique role in society for men.

    Homo sapiens has been around for at least 300,000 years in our present form. Civilization to the best of our knowledge is a phenomenon that goes back maybe 10,000 years. Through all that time, women bore children, men protected and fed the woman and newborns. Human children are extraordinarily vulnerable and slow to reach maturity, meaning that the providing and protecting role of males was absolutely vital.

    And then suddenly, in the blink of an eye, no. All done with men. Thanks, but we won’t be needing you. This is what we’re saying to half the human race. This half, the female half, gives birth, which is a rather important part of surviving as a species. And men? Sperm donors. Jerk off in a jar and go play video games where you fantasize about being a manly man.

    And this massive, unprecedented shift, from vital provider and protector, to. . . nothing unique. . . earns not even a shrug. That’s a mistake.

    5
  14. Mikey says:

    @gVOR08:

    And the guns are the real problem.

    Too many times in America do we see disputes that probably would have ended at raised voices, or escalated only as far as thrown fists, end up with someone dead because a gun was involved.

    A relative of my wife had this happen to him. His father had died and there was a familial dispute over inheritance with his mother’s family. He confronted his maternal aunt and uncle and one of them (neither will admit which at this point) shot him dead. 50 years old, wife and two young kids, dead because a gun was at hand.

    3
  15. Mikey says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I think it’s great that the whole human race, not just the male half, now has options beyond “baby factory.” And it’s also great the male half is gaining–albeit too slowly–legitimacy as nurturer rather than just protector.

    Still, I think you aren’t wrong in that any major change in social status is going to create significant insecurity and instability, and we can’t just hand-wave that away. And the transition from “protector” to “nurturer” imposes responsibilities we still aren’t very good at conveying to the traditionally masculine. A lot of men therefore feel as though they are being set up for failure.

    2
  16. Stormy Dragon says:

    The Rittenhouse verdict may have been the correct verdict, but it was definitely not the right verdict.

    5
  17. de stijl says:

    @gVOR08:

    Supremacy requires an enforcement mechanism. Guns foot a big portion of that bill.

    The other necessary part is that the policing and prosecutorial powers in your burg support you. At the least, do not thwart you.

    If you want to lynch somebody and you know there are going to be no legal consequences whatsoever, and it will increase your social standing if you do, why not? Win-win.

    If the Arbury video had not been leaked, those three men would never have been charged. Never convicted. It would have swept under the rug.

    They thought they were the good guys and the system had their back. The system did have their back until the video came out.

    For every Arbury there are a dozen more that never reach the adjudication stage. No video. We trust the police and justice system to be fair arbiters. They are not. The thumb is on the scale always.

    The system perpetuates itself.

    6
  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mikey:
    I think there’s very little chance that the outcome is men as nurturers.

    1
  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Most of the national media, including great newspapers like the NYT and WaPo, NPR, and the major networks are treating these individual cases as representative examples of institutionalized racism in our criminal justice system. That was true even in the Rittenhouse case, where everyone involved was White. And, if that’s how you’ve viewed the case for months, an acquittal, no matter how legally proper, is yet another bit of evidence that white supremacists can get away with murder.

    Just want to point out that at the center of CRT is the assertion that if the laws as written are properly followed, the result will most often favor whites. So if one is viewing the Rittenhouse case as an instance of a white person showing up to a Black Lives Matter protest with an AR-15, and then using that AR-15 against protestors, than one would expect the law to sanction such an action.

    Which is in fact what the court found.

    Or as Frank Wilhoit said so very well, “There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.”

    5
  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey: 50 years old, wife and two young kids, dead because a gun was at hand.

    A year ago some friends of mine suffered a truly tragic and completely avoidable loss just because a gun was at hand. A father and son were arguing. The argument got very contentious.

    The son said, “Fine then! Go F yourself!” Reached down, grabbed the father’s pistol off the coffee table, and shot himself in the head.

    I can’t think of anything worse.

    ftr, I have firearms and living on my small spread I have found occasion to use them, BUT I keep them stored and locked when not being used.

    3
  21. Mikey says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I think we’ve already started down that road. I guess we’ll see where it ends up.

  22. Kathy says:

    “Bureaucrat Conrad, you are technically correct. The best kind of correct.” Bureaucrat 1.0 in Futurama.

    That’s the Ritenhouse verdict. Technically correct, morally abysmal.

    So much for the party that used to extol values.

    4
  23. de stijl says:

    @Kathy:

    Family Values condones killing The Other.

    4
  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mikey:
    In every male-female relationship, with a few exceptions, there is this reality: the male is bigger and stronger and can, if he chooses, dominate the female. (See: the last 10,000 years of human history.) One of the factors that (mostly) stops men exploiting this is the role of man as provider and protector, within a web of law and custom that grants males a unique position within a society.

    Now, add in the fact that we’re having fewer children, and even the nurturing job is diminishing in importance. So, no, males are not going to re-position as nurturers just as more and more women abandon the role of reproduction. That’s like suggesting more men could get into the automotive industry.

    In civilization writ large, the men who do make a shift to nurturing roles increase civilization’s vulnerability by opting out of their remaining duties as protectors. Kindergarten teachers do not defeat soldiers. The more sheep, the more wolves. Female equality – even as a widely-held if spottily-applied belief – really only exists in relatively advanced societies. If those societies wobble or fall, so does female equality.

    I don’t have any solution to propose. But I think we are focusing on the trees and ignoring the forest.

    4
  25. Scott F. says:

    In this world, we’re not entitled to our own opinions, we’re entitled to our own facts. And, yes, it’s nearly impossible to have a conversation across the tribes when the only evidence that’s acceptable is that from their own sources.

    There are tribes, no doubt, and each tribe has its unique perspective, but I think it important to make some clear distinctions around cause & effect, because it’s not so symmetrical. Over-generalization in order to confirm one’s biases is a completely different failure mode than denying evidence that challenges your biases.

    Over-generalization can be countered with further, more specific evidence which can lead to learning and a change of perspective. For a denialist, new information is a threat.

    2
  26. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I see MR’s alt-right radicalization is continuing to progress.

  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Excellent counter-argument. My turn! I see you’re a commie.

    5
  28. Roger says:

    Part of the problem is that too many people look to the law to answer questions it was not designed for and is not capable of answering: is someone an innocent person, a person we can agree is not morally blameworthy? But the law can never tell us if Rittenhouse has an innocent soul. At best, it can only tell us if a jury reached a reasonable conclusion in deciding that he was not guilty of these particular charges under the evidence presented at this trial.

    This conflation of legal guilt and moral standing comes from the same impulse that so often leads partisans to describe opponents as criminals without reference to whether any laws were actually broken (Lock her up!) and to deny that their allies are criminals despite clear evidence, and sometimes actual admissions, that crimes were committed (Michael Flynn). I use conservative examples (because I’m liberal and screw those guys) but of course my side does it, too. For many at both ends of the spectrum a criminal is someone who belongs to a class of people I don’t approve of, not someone who has violated a criminal statute.

    If you believe that Rittenhouse was a good boy who was standing up to rioters when the law wouldn’t and the McMichaels were the kind of neighbors you’d like to have to keep the neighborhood safe, then they can’t be guilty no matter what technicalities pettifogging lawyers might throw up. Conversely if Rittenhouse was a bad actor looking for trouble and the McMichaels were a lynch mob without the hoods they can’t be innocent, regardless of what the law says.

    I tend to agree with both verdicts given the way these cases were tried. The last half of that sentence is important to me. The work the prosecutors in Wisconsin did in public was so poor it makes me wonder how many other questionable decisions they made behind the scenes, leaving me with a lingering suspicion that better lawyers would have developed the case differently, charged the case differently, and tried the case differently, and so might have ended up with a different verdict. That is only speculation, but it’s enough to leave me in a position where I bristle when I hear someone say he was innocent. He was not proven guilty, but he was not vindicated, despite the crowing we hear from the worst part of the right.

    5
  29. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I see you’re a commie.

    Thanks! If someone plagiarizing Jordan Peterson BS didn’t think I was was a commie, I’d be worried I might myself be radicalizing without realizing it.

    3
  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Dude, fuck you, I don’t plagiarize anything. I don’t even know who Jordan Peterson is. 30 years ago I worried this was going to be an issue.

    What do you think rising authoritarianism around the world is about? How about in Texas? Texas just took women’s control over their own body away and empowered vigilantes to enforce the law. Have the women of Texas brought that government to its knees? Why do you think Black and Brown males are drifting GOP? What do you think all these ludicrous displays of hyper-masculinity are about?

    But never mind. You stay in your rut and in five years you’ll realize I’m right.

    6
  31. Jay L Gischer says:

    I agree with Michael’s thesis in that I see lots of men being pressured to change the way they engage with the world who are pushing back in lots of ways.

    AND, I don’t think there’s only one gender system that will work. I know lots of men who have slotted in to less traditional roles and seem perfectly fine with that. There may not be a unique role for a man, but there are certainly unique roles for people.

    Everyone, it seems, has an impulse to perform their internal sense of gender. Men will still be able to do that. Things like facial hair, and dress will do just fine. We can get rid of the “physically dominate adjacent other people” as a marker of masculinity, though I doubt we can eliminate it as a human behavior. In fact, I’ve come across a few women who do this. Not coincidentally, the women were physically larger than is typical.

    1
  32. JohnMcC says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Without taking any side here let me say that MR, you can very quickly take this too far for rational thinking. As an example: Mr Nick Fletcher, Tory MP, told Parliament yesterday that supplanting male superheroes with females is the cause of increasing crime.

    https://youtu.be/YKBmWYj81Bs

    3
  33. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    And this massive, unprecedented shift, from vital provider and protector, to. . . nothing unique. . . earns not even a shrug. That’s a mistake.

    I think a lot of people have a stunted and stupid idea of masculinity based on the strong, stoic John Wayne — and then whine about it like weak little babies.

    To which I would ask: was Gandhi not manly?

    The John Wayne archetype of man is not the only one, or even a good one for anyone to follow in real life.

    As far as men losing their role of protector, they still earn more than women for the same job, and are physically larger. But, earning 20% more and being bigger aren’t going to protect against a declining middle class, where now even 20% more isn’t enough.

    (Meanwhile, the black couple down the street is doing better than ever — a bit less racism and discrimination, and their fortunes are going up. Almost to the level of a white family. If things continue like that, someday they will be doing better than white people… you underestimate race)

    It’s not that men are losing the role of protector and provider, it’s that they are failing at it. Being a man isn’t enough to protect against late stage capitalism — particularly not the strong, stoic, many man.

    Anyway, men have yard work and women have gardening. Totally unique roles.

    3
  34. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Dude, fuck you, I don’t plagiarize anything. I don’t even know who Jordan Peterson is. 30 years ago I worried this was going to be an issue.

    Your half-baked thought lacking a solution is very much like Jordan Peterson’s entire thing. Except he proposes a solution — double down on macho manliness.

    Anyway, I think you’re wrong. It’s not that men are losing their unique role that makes them men — it’s that men are losing some of their privilege. And the loss of privilege sucks.

    So they try to cosplay as what they think men where like in the good old days, which becomes hyper-masculine idiocy and truck nuts because men are stupid.

    Meanwhile… burping, farting, watching college football on tv, growing beards, and letting themselves get fat and disheveled — totally masculine things that no women are encroaching on.

    6
  35. de stijl says:

    At home during the peak of summer I basically wear a skirt commando style. I call it my tactical summer-weight kilt half-jokingly. But it is a skirt.

    I have never had the stones to wear it outside. Kinda wish I did have it in me. That would be pretty bad-ass.

    It is very practical. I have extremely wimpy skin. Especially prone to fungal stuff in hot humidity. My boys need air flow and hydrocortisone. Especially in that crease next to the thigh.

    Never had the balls (hah!) to wear it out and about.

    I don’t care about traditional gender roles. Do and be whoever you want. It isn’t my business. It isn’t anybody’s but you and yours.

    Be you.

    1
  36. Kathy says:

    Gender archetypes go way back.

    Take Achilles, c. 1350 BCE. In some versions of mythology, the gods foresaw two fates for him. In one, he’d live a long life in obscurity, in the other he’d die a glorious death in battle at a young age.

    He chose the second. Not only that, but it was a women, his mother, who tried to keep him from his glorious, masculine fate.

    Though I’d argue being shot in the heel by a coward with a poisoned arrow, is far from a glorious death.

    2
  37. JohnMcC says:

    @de stijl: Hint: A real scotsman’s kilt is called a ‘plaid’. Pronounced ‘played’.

    You can do it.

    2
  38. de stijl says:

    @JohnMcC:

    I’m thinking on it. Why not? I’m not here to impress anyone anymore.

    Next summer I might give it a go.

    Btw, the concept and the practicality of a man skirt is highly recommended during summer.

    Deploy the tactical summer-weight plaid (mine is solid gray, but whatever) and join my stupid little one person movement.

    Het men (or any man) can wear summer-weight kilts. This is a thing I want to be normalized. The protest march will hit your burg soon.

    What do we want? Summer-weight kilts aka plaids aka man skirts!

    When do we want it? In the summer!

    What else do we want? Pockets!

    I am the world’s worst protest organizer. Never hire me to write your protest march chants – I suck.

  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I gotta say, Mr. Reynolds, that the argument that you are making is the exact one I heard growing up among the Baptists and Bill Gothard people. They certainly took a more reactionary response to what to do, but the it’s the same basic apple.

    1
  40. Jax says:

    @de stijl: ROFLMAO, you have hit on an eternal problem with women’s clothing. My daughter was soooooo excited her prom dress had pockets last year! First thing she said whenever somebody complimented her on it…..”Thanks! It has pockets!”

    2
  41. Sleeping Dog says:

    @de stijl:

    There’s a fellow that I run into now and again in Portsmouth that regularly is wearing what he described as a workman’s kilt, cut similar to the familiar Scots’ kilt, but made of a khaki type cotton, with pockets. Told me they could be bought online, if I were interested.

    Footwear for men can be an issue. Saw a guy wearing a biz suit that had a skirt, rather than pants, and (note Oxford comma) was wearing typical brogues with typical over knee men’s dress socks, looked odd. Work boots or sandals work well.

    Of course there are always sarongs.

    2
  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: The president of Woosong University while I was there used to come to meetings dressed in his regimental kilt, but he always wore more European-type shoes with lighter (and dimensionally smaller) soles than brogues have.

    I’ve seen guys wear work boots or sandals with kilt-type outerwear. I don’t think either works well as a look, but that’s me. And I don’t have any knee socks left in my wardrobe anyway so I’m not likely to be an early new look adoptee.

    1
  43. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog: @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    A sgian-dubh in the socks might be problematic in the U.S.

    1
  44. de stijl says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    There is an avuncular guy on Forged In Fire (one of my favorite shows) who sports the kilt plus black boot look.

    Of course he pairs that with an upper half I would not do, personally. First off, he is fond of vests with lapels. He usually wears a tie over a blue shirt.

    It’s a good look for him. Totally works. Not my jam.

    I almost never wear something that is unnecessary. A tie? Maybe once a year. It’s a shame really – I have some kick-ass ties.

    I will wear a fleece vest as a layer if it is super cold, but as fashion? Never.

    Not my speed, but it works for him and he looks good sporting it. Good on him.

    If I am going to go for it I am gonna need a bridge. A proper kilt. An actual tartan plaid kilt with black mid calf boots. An eight inch black boot. No goddamn knee high socks. Nothing too showy – your basic pared-down US style kilt set-up.

    That would need to be my starter rig. Find my feet, my sea legs. Get used to it, get used to being seen in public in that look before I deploy the practical man skirt for the world to see. The tactical summer-weight man skirt. The mirt. The dudirt.

    You know how high school seniors have the votes for funniest person, best smile, etc?

    I won a few that didn’t surprise me, but I also won Sexiest Legs (boy). That was not anything I expected at all. Really?

    They are legs. They allow me to stand and walk and run and do bipedal things. Very handy.

    Also, somehow sexy. Apparently, I have attractive legs – the people have spoken. I would have never known let alone even thought about it until then. They’re just legs.

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  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: The guy in the house next door to Luddite sometimes comes over wearing a twill kilt. He wears the traditional knee socks with the ribbon or whatever it is in them, but no dagger.

  46. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I love how the full on Scottish look comes complete with what is essentially a mini leather fanny pack. A man purse.

    I would never wear a fanny pack myself.

    Btw, Brits find the phrase “fanny pack” hilarious. In the US, fanny means booty or tush or butt. Low-key innocuous inoffensive way of of saying buttocks.

    In the UK, fanny means something entirely different. Think female nether region. The equivalent of vagina pack.

    They must think we are savages or just really fucking cool.

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  47. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    The fanny pack is worn in the front, traditionally, and is known as a sporran.

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