Celebrated neurologist and psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud was known for his interpretation of dreams and imagery that infused many symbols with sexuality. In relation to the latter, a quote attributed to him – "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" – was probably never made. But it could apply these days to people who jump to conclusions about events they assume are connected.

A quick glance at comments attached to stories on social media and traditional media websites about the recent tragedy in Waukesha, Wisconsin, offer proof of that misguided tendency. Just as a certain segment of ignorant Americans tied anyone from the Middle East to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, some who find it impossible to tamp down their prejudice insist on linking the Waukesha killings to those perpetrated in Kenosha by Kyle Rittenhouse – just because both events happened in Wisconsin. And there's no way to define the rumors and rhetoric except as racist screeds.

According to authorities, on Nov. 21, the driver of an SUV plowed through barricades and intentionally ran down people participating in the Waukesha Christmas parade. Officials say Darrell E. Brooks, who stands accused on five counts of first-degree intentional homicide, had been involved earlier that day in a domestic incident. And he had been out on a $1,000 bail, which the District Attorney's office admitted had been set "inappropriately low." That was for a Nov. 2 incident in which he was accused of running over a woman.

The apples-to-oranges comparisons between Kenosha and Waukesha stem from the fact that Brooks happens to be Black. The warped logic of some misguided souls suggests he must have run down his victims in retaliation for what happened – or rather, didn't happen – to Rittenhouse. That young man came in from another state, apparently looking for trouble, and found it: He shot three people, killing two. But all the evidence so far indicates the two cases are unrelated.

Brooks was in trouble long before Rittenhouse slinked into Kenosha. In August 2016, a warrant for bail-jumping was issued for him. And before his November assaults, he had been out on bail after an incident in July 2020. That date is key, because this happened about a month before the Kenosha riot, when Rittenhouse blew away those people. It would seem Brooks had his own reasons for miscreancy.

To no one's surprise, Rittenhouse got off the hook. Wisconsin law is a bit different than Oklahoma's, with arguably more rigid standards for convictions, especially of teenagers, but few outside observers bought "self-defense" as a legitimate defense. Initial reports indicated Rittenhouse came to "defend" the city and business community from the rioters, but that doesn't wash. It wasn't his city, and besides, that type of "defense" falls within the purview of actual law enforcement. They didn't need the "frontier justice" administered by this kid, who cried crocodile tears in court. But for better or for worse, the jury has spoken.

Reputable media understand it's wrong to connect dots without any evidence they're related, or to force square pegs through round holes. Doing so suggests a motive too ugly to contemplate. It's not just dishonest; it's spoiling for more trouble that this country doesn't need. No one has a right to publicly state as fact that a link between Kenosha and Waukesha exists. But that won't stop people who are imbued with hatred of "other," and it's plain most of the speculators are rife with it.

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