Actor Jussie Smollet was found guilty on five of six counts against him. Those counts were all for, basically, lying to police about supposedly being the victim of a hate crime.
In the process, the courts found that he’d paid two black men to fake the attack. There were no two white Trump supporters who put a noose around his neck yelling that Chicago was “MAGA country” or any such thing.
Social media is having a field day with Smollet right now, as is the natural order of things.
However, while I may laugh at the jokes, the truth is that Smollet managed to hurt the very people he was presumably trying to help.
We all know that the faked attack was staged to try and hurt then-President Donald Trump and to paint his supporters as vile, disgusting people. One would assume this was because Smollet believed Trump to be a threat to folks like minorities and the LGBT community. After all, Smollet had a foot in each of those camps.
However, what he managed to do was make it that much more difficult for victims of possible hate crimes to be taken seriously.
This isn’t the exclusive domain of Jussie Smollet, either. There have been a number of supposed hate crimes that turned out to be fake, and each hoax is really just the little boy crying wolf one more time.
What about when it’s real?
Recently, we learned the verdict in the Ahmaud Arbery trial. When I first heard about that case, I rolled my eyes. Why? Because the media had developed something of a history of making the case that the black man killed had done nothing wrong. They’d done it so much that I refused to take it at face value. I wanted more information before I delved into it.
We now know that this time, they appeared to have gotten it right.
Yet that damage was done, and not being wrong one time doesn’t negate that damage. Smollet, coupled with all the other hate crime hoaxes, have done essentially the same thing.
Now, when someone is actually attacked by a white supremacist or a homophobe, it’s that much harder to take their claim seriously. The only people who will listen are those who don’t really care about the validity of the claim, only that they can make political hay with it.
Rather than people uniting behind the victim of a completely unwarranted attack, it’ll be battles about whether or not the attack even happened.
Jussie Smollet may be a pretty good actor, but as a human being, he’s the bottom of the barrel. He didn’t just lie to the police. He didn’t just lie about innocent people. He didn’t just fabricate a story that would, if it worked, exacerbate tensions that already threaten to tear us apart as a nation, either.
In all of that, there will be some actual victim who will go to the police and lay out what happened to them but will be met with skepticism. He made that person’s trauma so much worse, all so he could be the center of attention and hurt those who disagreed with him.