Quick note – spell check knows his last name. That says something.
Anyway, breaking this morning is that Mr. Smollett not only paid friends to stage an attack, but also sent the ‘suspicious letter’ the week before. The letter is going to be the main problem, as it is not only potentially violations of various federal Postal laws (and they do not play around), but by adding crushed Tylenol into the envelope, it becomes a potential federal charge of false information and hoaxes and mailing threatening communication. Or has in the past, in similar cases. Those charges alone could result in 5 years in prison.
I would argue that the charges should include a first and second count of, as phrased in 720 ILCS 5/12-7.1, Hate Crime. By making each event a separate offense, there is a stronger message sent to the kinds of scum who perpetrate these fake crimes. Per 720 ILCS 5/12-7.1, the penalty for one offence is a Class 3 felony (2-5 years), and the second is a Class 2 felony (3-7 years).
Look, the point of severe punishment is to deter criminals. If we continue to treat people who fake these crimes as minor criminals, we will continue to get more of them. After all, if it works, they stand to gain substantial benefit from the lie. Look at Mr. Smollett, his role on Empire was reinforced as vital, he was put in front of more positive media than he could have ever expected otherwise, and more people than ever knew who he was. The media (CNN, NBC, etc) jumped to his defense, celebrity media defended him as a near-martyr, Democrat presidential candidates fell all over themselves to compare this event to a lynching, and demand the CPD find the monsters who did this horrid event.
Well, they did. To the surprise of no one who pays attention to not only human nature, but the trend of fake hate crimes, it was Mr. Smollett himself.
The motivation was money. Reports are that the estimated $65,000 per episode ($1,170,000 over an 18 episode season) wasn’t enough. For clarity, I make less than $65,000 per year. Not going to find any sympathy there.
Because faking this kind of thing makes the next actual victim’s story less believable, I want to again call for the laws to be changed, so that a false report of a crime carries no less than the same penalty as the crime reported. Preferably the punishment for the reported crime, plus the maximum punishment for the false report itself. Report a rape that never happened, be sentenced under the rape guidelines. Or worse. There needs to be a change in how we address these things, and punishing them accordingly is a place to start.
It won’t happen, of course. Defenders of Mr. Smollett are already lining up to say that while he lied, he told a bigger truth – that this happens on a daily basis and is ignored. I call bullshit on that – if it were such a frequent crime, someone somewhere would be sounding an alarm, and the ‘news media’ would have picked up on it, if only to blame Trump somehow. But there isn’t such a cry, so we can infer this isn’t common.
Mr. Smollett needs to be the example – his lie was national news, unlike the others who lie about this – and the message needs to be sent – no more.