What Happened To Our Critical Thinking?

Thomas F Campenni
3 min readNov 24, 2021

Americans have lost the ability to think critically.

To many of us the talking heads have made it easy to just pick up the sound bite without us doing any independent reasoning. This became more apparent to me with the Rittenhouse trial. What did it say to us as a nation and as parents?

When the two deaths and one wounding occurred, Kyle Rittenhouse, the shooter, was 17 years old. He said when he testified at his trial that he owned an M&P 15 assault type rifle because it was cool. A seventeen-year old’s judgement led to a fateful decision to become involved in vigilante justice in a town and state in which he did not live.

The jury heard the evidence and applied it fairly. In this case, it was not the judge (who clearly is a bit odd), the attorneys, or the jury who did not do their duty. The fault lies with legislators who in the past decade in several states thought it would be great to curry to their base by enacting statutes that were dangerously inappropriate. The law the jury applied should never had been written.

The “stand your ground” doctrine was not meant to be applied in this manner. If someone brings a gun to a riot and is then confronted because he has a gun, being in fear of his life should not be justification to claim self-defense. Rittenhouse placed himself in the situation, and then because of the way the law is written is not responsible in any way for the deaths and mayhem that occurred because of his actions.

The kid never claimed others were in jeopardy. He was not protecting his home, another person, his business, town, school, or even state. Rittenhouse was in over his head in so many ways but that should not mean you get to shoot. Ask a cop that has faced situations like this, and even with all their training, it is not an easy judgement call to make.

Even putting all that aside, as a parent who had children his age, I would no more want one of my teenagers running around with a deadly weapon than fly to the moon. At 17, you cannot order a drink, sign a contract, or even buy a pack of cigarettes but having a gun and running to a dangerous situation is apparently fine. The entire incident is more reminiscent of a video game than being a responsible adult.

He was not hunting for deer with dad. My son and I when he was a pre-teen would go out in the woods to target shoot and hunt. So, I am far from being anti-gun for anyone including kids. A responsible parent is one that makes sure that their child follows safe practices when using a gun. And that the parent or another adult is standing right beside the child.

There is no way that we should condone what happened in Kenosha. There is no way that this should have anything to do with 2nd Amendment rights. It is bad parenting, bad law, and bad judgement. Protecting one’s home, business, family, or an innocent bystander is one thing. This was not anything more than a game to a kid who was playing war with dire and deadly consequences.

Thomas F Campenni

Currently lives in Stuart Florida and former City Commissioner. His career has been as a commercial real estate owner, broker and manger in New York City.