The [self-defense shooting video] channels are not sinister in themselves. [John] Correia combines old-fashioned moralism—including regular reminders that you are accountable to Jesus and the law for every round you fire, and that acts of brutality toward the vulnerable are among the worst you can commit—with extreme violence. I came away from a day with Correia thinking that the world is probably a safer place because he is packing heat.
But the videos themselves are insidious. Most people in the United States, allowing for wild variation in race, class, and education, are victims of violence only very rarely. Watching the videos, however, invites you to simulate violence at an extraordinary rate, much higher than we are mentally equipped to manage. (Correia himself has seen tens of thousands of them, and he posts a new one to his channel about once or twice a day.) The effect of these videos is to habituate viewers to that violence, to train them to imagine themselves in it. Training yourself to imagine something makes it seem more likely to happen, and primes your instincts to react to it—and, I suspect, initiate that violent reaction and overdo it when circumstances could be resolved more peacefully.
Rittenhouse appears to have been living in a fantasy world where police and car dealerships are more endangered than unarmed Black men in traffic stops, and where he was a warrior and self-defender, rather than a youngster who foolishly enrolled himself in a midwestern version of the Children’s Crusade. I can only imagine his fear when he saw the crowd coming for him—and the crowd’s fear, when it saw that a near-child was wildly firing a rifle better suited to a person with judgment and good training. I do not expect that the jury will be forgiving.
– Graeme Wood in Kyle Rittenhouse, Kenosha, and the Sheepdog Mentality