What is happening here? Are we fully incapable of applying justice equally – or at least quasi-equally? Almost four weeks after the alleged attack, Mr. Jussie Smollett is accused of faking hate mail and a racially charged hate crime on himself. After taking his police report in January and investigating exhaustively on behalf of Mr. Smollett the victim, the investigation took a u-turn, leading authorities back to Mr. Smollett the accused.
The lack of equal justice comes in when Mr. Smollett – though written out of Empire’s season finale – still has a job. Recall Roseanne Barr lost her entire show over an ape joke, “Mr. Papa John” himself stepped down as CEO after blaming NFL sales losses on the national anthem protests and describing historic use of the N-word, to name just a few. These instances show the rush to judgment and stern punishment for anyone who says something controversial, provocative, or unpopular. If we were to follow that historic line of action, Mr. Smollett would be immediately and unequivocally fired and not allowed back. But that didn’t happen.
Whether or not Mr. Smollett should be fired at this time, I am not prepared to say. I am only making the point that what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. Decide what is fair and then apply those rules to everyone, regardless of their celebrity status, race, or identity. The issue of whether or not a rule is fundamentally unfair is only exacerbated by the unequal application of consequences for breaking said rule. This is clearly the case here.
According to police, this guy actually staged a series of events and dreamed up an intricate story to go along with it. If the charges turn out to be false, and there truly was an attack, we need to stand behind Mr. Smollett as one collective voice condemning this type of criminal behavior.
By the same token, if it comes to light that the man has been reading fictional scripts for Empire a little too long and used his acting abilities to stage this hoax, we must be equally willing to condemn such divisiveness and deceit. Minimizing the seriousness of hate, racism, and bigotry by perpetrating a fraud causes societal distrust of true victims of violence, anti-gay sentiment, and racial attacks.
Our country is already being pushed and pulled by the media in biased, skewed, manipulative and dishonest ways; we don’t need a celebrity or anyone else adding to our dysfunction. There are two distinct responsibilities: the news outlets are to report facts – corroborated, legitimate facts; and the public is to take those facts and form an opinion about them. Therefore, if the information given to the public is tainted, rigged, and poisoned, what hope is there of true discourse, debate, learning and unity? There are certain lines that should not be crossed: talking about someone’s mama, joking about life-threatening things, and faking hate crimes.
#notAfraidToThink #fakeHate #gooseAndGander