Friday, March 08, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: No Way to Hide Your Lyin’ Eyes

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Tom: I had never heard the name Jussie Smollett before last week, IC. Had you?

Immanuel Can: No. To be blunt, his activities were of absolutely no interest to me, or to anyone I knew, before a couple of weeks ago. But he’s got my attention now.

Tom: I suppose we should briefly summarize the unraveling Smollett fiasco for anyone who hasn’t been paying attention … do you want to do the honors?

Staging Your Own Hate Crime

IC: In a nutshell, a minor celebrity made an accusation of racist gay-bashing, allegedly performed by two white men wearing “Make America Great Again” hats. He says they beat him up late at night on a street in Chicago, put a noose around his neck and poured bleach all over him. He reported this to the police, and it made the press. Many people were instantly inclined to believe him, and to opine about the awful racism and homophobia of conservative Americans … only to find out that Jussie Smollett, the alleged victim, had staged the entire episode, in collusion with two paid accomplices of Nigerian descent. He’s now disgraced, and is facing criminal charges, and has been fired from his job. But what’s the real story here, Tom?

Tom: Well, to me, it’s that Smollett’s race card and his gay card didn’t dissuade the Chicago PD from prosecuting him for filing a false police report, even with all the media support he received as a “victim” of “racist” “homophobia”. We are still waiting for Christine Blasey Ford to be charged with falsely accusing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, even though that fiasco cost taxpayers a whole lot more than the Smollett matter. So maybe #BelieveAllWomen is more powerful rhetoric than #BlackLivesMatter or #LoveIsLove.

IC: “Believe all [insert type of human being here]” has to be just about the stupidest saying ever. Take women, for example, since that’s the best-known such meme. I’ve known many, many women, and none has ever failed to tell me how hard it is just to be a woman among other women — their unfair standards for each other, their sly meanness, their cliques and in-groups, their gossip, their use of sarcasm and backhanded “compliments”, their shaming of each other, their ostracism and character assassination, and nowadays their social-media bullying — no woman’s growing up years are ever free of it, so they tell me. And about that, I do believe them.


But what then does “believe all women” mean?

Tom: It’s a power move, that’s all. It’s daring you to disagree, at the risk of social shaming at least, and maybe worse. Even if these movements begin as efforts to awaken people to great social injustices of the past, they invariably end as power blocs determined to make their mark at the expense of anyone who gets in their way. And lately, all the bigger institutions virtue-signal their compliance by acting in lock-step with the “victims” groups that screech loudest.

When the Smollett thing started, the media predictably lined up to mouth all the usual pieties about race and the evils of discrimination, and then the wheels came off the cart as the investigation turned up facts it wasn’t really supposed to turn up.

IC: Right. And the big story was really how easily the whole conventional media was fooled, and also how foolish the celebrity and politician supporters of Smollett’s lie were shown to be. But that’s not the story they want to tell now. I saw one local news agency’s piece that came out just after the scandal. The headline was “some social activists are too naive.” Just “some”. And not “the media”, and far less “the major media outlets”, but just a few “social activists”. And not “biased” or “vindictive”, but merely “naive”. That’s what they wanted us to take away. And of course they delivered this message through a young African-Canadian female cub-reporter. It was all too predictable, and it’s evident they’ve learned nothing from the experience.

Learning Nothing from the Experience

Tom: No, the story is already being spun that we ought to feel sympathetic to the poor man, who apparently faked the crime because he was “only” making between $65,000 and $100,000 per episode to play a role in a TV series. From USA Today, er … today:
“You could do worse things than feel compassion for a man so beset by colossal stupidity and monumental suffering. The world is never in need of more anger. Hating Jussie Smollett will not solve anything at all. And feeling sorry for him will not hurt anything.”
Look, nobody hates Jussie Smollett. We’re glad he got caught. It’s about time. And we might even think he’s a self-serving moron for doing what he did. But there’s no hatred involved. None. That’s total projection on the part of the media.

Their point is what then? That if he’s not a victim of racism or homophobia — and he’s not — then we should be compassionate because he was greedy and stupid? Lovely.

IC: Well, and you might ask, where is the sympathy for the people he falsely accused, the people against whom he presumably would even have had to testify if an arrest had been made, and the people whose reputation he muddied in order to boost his profile as an oppressed victim? What about the entire class of people he slandered by his deception, or the people he attempted to defraud of his salary?

Tom: Exactly. He was deliberately escalating racial tensions in the hope of profiting from it. That’s pretty appalling when you think about it.

Winners and Losers

IC: What about the city of Chicago and its reputation?

Tom: Okay, I’ll concede I’m not sure how he could have made that too much worse … Chicago’s murder rate was ninth overall among major U.S. cities in 2017. I suppose if it got worse people might start mentioning Chicago in the same breath with St. Louis …

IC: Well, how about their police department, whose precious resources were squandered on chasing down a completely false report, the taxpayers whose money was wasted, or the needy people who weren’t served while that force was serving Smollett? What about the way he betrayed his own supporters? Have we no compassion for any of them? Apparently not. And where is the repentance for the rush to judgment that gave power to this narcissistic and dishonest man in the first place?

Tom: Oh, we won’t be seeing that. I think it’s time to bring back an ancient Israelite law:
“If the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”
So we’d upgrade that charge of filing a false police report to something along the lines of two counts of racially-motivated assault, for starters. In New Mexico, a recent convict on a single count got 8-1/2 years.

Perfect Justice

Think that would slow the would-be race-baiters and opportunists down a bit, IC?

IC: It might, but even if it didn’t, it’s still the standard of perfect justice. True, some people might find the stiffer penalty a deterrent to this kind of behavior, and that would be a nice bonus, but the real point is that justice is served in any case. (We should add that the biblical sentence wouldn’t be unfair to genuine victims who come forward, or prevent their outcry, even if they couldn’t prove their case fully; it would only apply to those whose deliberate malice and dishonesty was conclusively proved afterward — as it now seems to be in the Smollett case.)

Tom: But people always muddle the micro and the macro; they conflate the personal with the exercise of duty by the State. Any hypothetical Christian who might happen to meet Smollett during this process of humiliation and discrediting he’s going through may well treat him with compassion. That would be totally appropriate — but only at the personal level. Perhaps this public embarrassment will humble him, and that would be a great thing.

But the danger of talking in public about “compassion” before a court has even begun to sentence the man is that we may begin to consider letting him off the hook. And that cannot be. The State has an obligation to carry out its role in administering justice for all the people you mentioned, not just Mr. Smollett. He is the victimizer here, not the victim, and the State has to deal with that aspect of things.

Mercy and Commitment

IC: That’s a good distinction. There is no meaning to mercy in a situation in which we are not more generally committed to upholding of a law. Where we abandon the standard of law, there is only injustice for all.

Tom: Is it worth commenting on the incredible willingness of the media to rush to a verdict of “racist homophobia” before all the information was even in their hands?

IC: Oh, I think so. It’s very telling. Our media are no longer performing even the basic fact-checks. They’re virtue-signaling and leaping to ideologically-motivated conclusions, and then not admitting guilt when they’ve done it. Really, the ideal of journalism has changed from serving the public with stories as true and factual as possible, delivered as impartially as possible, to a free-wheeling, public-manipulating propaganda machine serving Leftist beliefs as fast as possible. That’s very clear after the Smollett scandal, if it wasn’t before.

Unretouched photo courtesy Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 2.0]


  1. "Really, the ideal of journalism has changed from serving the public ...".

    Any ideas how, when, and why that has actually started? Is it simply top down coercion by leftist wealthy power brokers intimidating upper management all the way down the chain to the reporter because there is greater profit in gossip style news? And therefore one must blame the public at large. Or is it simply a phenomenon where honesty has come more and more under attack generally to support widespread illicit living and personal habits? The latter also being more profitable to report on for news media.

    1. Personally, I think your first suggestion sums it up rather eloquently.