Hate Crime Crime



The case of Jussie Smollett was a media feeding frenzy, but for you cave-dwellers: Smollett is the gay African-American actor who reported to the police that he’d been jumped by thugs in a racist, homophobic attack, only to be exposed for having staged the whole thing to gain public sympathy and a better deal with Fox for his work on the show Empire. It was a story tailor-made to be spun according to one’s political, racial, or sexual orientation. The leftish media wrung its hands over the vulnerability of a gay black man, even a famous one, to hate crimes—until the hoax was revealed, which was a bit awkward. At that point the right-wing media went into overdrive on the culture of victimization that led Smollett to think this was a good idea. Liberals chalked it up to the insecurities of one unstable actor. But here’s another way to think about this affair: For decades LGBT actors had to be totally closeted lest their careers be destroyed. We’ve now reached a place where a gay actor stages an attack and calls it a hate crime, fully expecting to gain credits from his fans both for his bravery in coming out as gay and for all that he’s had to endure. Had things gone as planned, he was probably not wrong in his calculation that the net effect of the gambit would be media coverage and a career boost. In a weird way, is this progress of a kind?