Editorial: Smollett’s Hate Crime Hoax is Disheartening

What happens when a Hollywood star cries wolf? Well, apparently nothing with the exception of some cash being thrown at the problem.

“Empire” actor and singer Jussie Smollett was the head of recent controversy in January when he claimed two men yelled racial and homophobic slurs and physically attacked him in Chicago.

The actor said the men attacked him outside of a Subway restaurant at 2 a.m. and told police the men wrapped a rope around his neck and poured an “unknown substance” on him.

While detectives investigated the alleged hate crime, police found inconsistencies with Smollett’s story and the actor was accused of faking a hate crime.

Smollett’s embarrassing cry for attention, attempt for a Hollywood raise or whatever the motive was for the hoax only harms societal views on hate crimes.

There are people who are victims of discrimination. They do not have the audience Smollett does, but their stories matter. They do not ring a false alarm.

The FBI publishes a national analysis on hate crimes based on police reports each year. This analysis concludes the number of hate crimes in the U.S. has risen 17% since 2017 with an average of 20 hate crimes a day.

Although Smollett was arrested and charged with 16 counts of falsely reporting an offense, all charges against the actor were dropped March 26.

Joseph Magats, first assistant state’s attorney of Illinois, said in a statement that although he dropped the charges, he still believes Smollett lied to Chicago police.

Chicago is asking Smollett to pay $130,000 to cover the cost of the police investigation.

Smollett’s ability to get off scot-free is a disappointing reflection of the inconsistencies in the justice system.

Where is the accountability? Will Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin receive the same treatment?

Without an apology or ownership Smollett expects Americans to move on, expects us to forget.

His idiotic hoax should not erase the efforts to help people who actually suffer hate crimes, and if Smollett won’t apologize to Chicago, he should at least apologize to them.