2AM January 29th. Chicago, IL. It is about 6 degrees out. Possibly cooler based on location (the official readings are taken about 15 miles NW of where this story begins).

According to Jussie Smollett, who is on the show ‘Empire’ on Fox (which I have never watched nor been interested in watching, so I had never heard of this guy before this event), he was on the phone with his manager and walking back from Subway when two people accosted him, shouted various racist and anti-homosexual slurs at him, beat him, poured a chemical (often reported as bleach) over him, and tied a noose about his neck, then fled.

This is the kind of horrible crime against someone for unimportant differences that we need to stamp out. This is, and must be, unacceptable in a civilized society.

But did it happen?

In too many cases like this, the story ends when the alleged victim is revealed to actually be the perpetrator. And these people have created, with their self-centered grandstanding, the need and ability to legitimately question attacks like this one. Because while we rightly condemn attacks based on skin color, gender, sexuality, etc.; we also must condemn those who lie about them to make themselves sympathetic. If for no other reason than they cast doubt on the real victims, and make the real victims less likely to come forward.

Which, interestingly, Mr. Smollett was not interested in doing. In fact, he never called the police. Someone else did.

What has bothered me from the beginning is that the story doesn’t quite add up.

  • Most people compartmentalize each other – we have trouble recognizing people outside that compartment. Actors are no different.
  • It was brutally cold that night, which means one of two scenarios
    • Two random individuals happened across him whilst carrying a chemical (bleach?) and noose (reported to be a brand new cotton clothesline). Or…It was brutally cold. Which means either…
    • Two people staked him out in the cold, hoping he would pass by.
    • Neither seems likely, really
  • Why not report it? Well, if you tell the story to TMZ, and it’s found to be false, oops. If you lie to the police, that is a criminal offense. See the Brett Kavanaugh circus for more on that.
  • Why was the ‘noose’ still on 40 minutes later, when the cops were called/arrived? Seriously. That would have been removed instantly I would think – either by Mr. Smollett or his friend. Especially given the connotation of a noose on a black man.
  • Did he fight back? He says he did, but word from inside CPD is that he is seen still carrying his sandwich when he enters his building…and he claims to have been on the phone with his manager when it happened. So, how does one fight back with both hands occupied? And let’s be honest – if you are going to attack someone for being black & gay, why not just steal the sandwich too? Or stomp it? Or something. That is a weird thing to survive.
  • There is no video of the attack, despite, per the CPD report, there being no less than 4 cameras in the area.

The facts and story just seem to not add up. I am also, I admit, torn between wanting this to be true, and hoping it is false.

Wanting it to be true because if it is, then it helps the next victim have the courage to step up, until this is so rare as to shock the nations. Wanting it to be true so that Mr. Smollett isn’t going to have lying about an assault as part of his story. And so that he isn’t used as a ‘but remember’ every time this happens to someone else, weakening their story.

I also want it to be a lie, because I don’t like what it says about people in general. I want it to be a lie so that maybe with a high-profile case of the alleged victim being the perpetrator, it stops here. I want it to be a lie because it is easier in some ways if it is.

Honestly, at this point, I just don’t believe him. I just can’t ignore the problems with his story, and how it doesn’t quite jibe with what I know of human nature, and the facts as known at this time.

The Chicago Police report from that night is available here.