Late last week, much of the internet responded with disbelief when it was announced that Jussie Smollett -- the actor who who orchestrated a fake hate crime against himself -- was up for an "image award" at an annual NAACP gala. Comedian Chris Rock made an onstage presentation during the event, revealing that he had been told backstage not to make any jokes at Smollett's expense. Very much unlike emcee Anthony Anderson, who said publicly that he was rooting for Smollett to win because the justice system had "worked for him," Rock took his opportunity in the spotlight to openly defy the apparent joke embargo and highlight his lack of respect for the disgraced former Empire cast member. Note to self -- don't try to tell Chris Rock who he can and cannot skewer:
"They said no Jussie Smollett jokes...what the hell was he thinking?...You are Jessie from now on. You don't even get the 'U' no more. That 'U' was respect. You ain't getting no respect from me!
On Saturday Night Live, a sketch depicted Smollett claiming to have been the victim of yet another supposed hate crime, in order to explain his tardiness to a meeting with his agent and television executives:
I chuckled at the bag of clues bit, but this could probably have been even more biting. For instance, they left out perhaps the biggest joke of all -- State's Attorney Kim Foxx, who's now claiming that she dropped all 16 charges against Smollett because she wasn't sure her office could secure convictions, and because Smollett's crimes made people angry, but didn't put anyone in danger. Two different organizations of prosecutors have blasted Foxx for her unprofessional, deceitful and unethical handling of this case, any almost nobody believes the evidence against Smollett was anything other than airtight. As Chicago's Mayor pointed out, a grand jury slapped the actor with more than a dozen indictments upon seeing a summary of just "a sliver" of the case against him.
Also, we should reject the notion that bogus hate crimes are "victimless" offenses -- especially when perpetrated by a person of profile. Smollett deliberately sought to divide society and sow mistrust and resentments, all for his own personal glorification and enrichment. His selfish and sociopathic act was an affront to true victims of hate-inspired crimes, and probably made it harder for future genuine targets of such heinous acts to be believed. In doing so, he wasted valuable law enforcement resources and efforts, falsely posing as a victim of violent racism and homophobia. Letting these criminal acts go entirely unpunished, and even un-apologized for, is disgraceful on its face -- and a betrayal of Foxx's professional norms and ethics. She's pretending to welcome an independent probe of her actions; she likely doesn't have much of a choice at this point, given her shady conduct and outright lies. I'll leave you with Carl Cannon arguing that the series of events surrounding Smollett's calculated hoax constitute "hate crimes" unto themselves:
Let’s be clear: A hate crime did take place in Chicago. It’s an ongoing crime, too. Yes, a hoax occurred -- more like two or three hoaxes -- but deliberately stoked racial animosity can’t be washed away with the forfeiture of a $10,000 bond, a few hours of dubious “community service,” or the sealing of public records in a criminal case. If history has taught us anything, it’s that hate tends to fester, especially when aided by fraud and abetted by government...The third hoax -- the dropping of charges against this man for no reason that makes sense under the law -- assures that the malicious seeds Smollett planted will linger and take root. Millions of people will believe him. “The charges were dropped,” they’ll say, and they won’t be wrong. This, too, is a kind of hate crime, this one committed under color of law by elected officials. Shortly after Donald Trump’s election as president, the venerable Washington Post adopted as its mantra “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Some Trump supporters chafed at this slogan, seeing it as a subtle dig at their guy. Maybe it is, but the newspaper’s sentiment is undeniably true. In Chicago, democracy also dies in the daylight. In the middle of the morning, in open court.
One additional thought: Some people, predominantly on the Left, have started to complain that this case has generated too much attention -- and has become an outsized "obsession" on the Right. This is spin from people who do not want to talk about Smollett...anymore, that is. They were very eager to talk about his plight when the "attack" was first reported because it fit an irresistibly attractive narrative. The national media gave the incident lots of coverage, celebrities lashed out at conservatives, and several politicians running for president declared it akin to a "lynching." As Smollett's self-written tale has imploded before our eyes, exposing dishonesty and potential corruption in a major city's criminal justice system in the process, many of these same people have slinked away; the facts have turned out to be profoundly inconvenient to the narrative they'd loudly trumpeted. They've forfeited their credibility to lecture anyone else about when to 'move on.'