When the news first hit, I didn’t really talk about Jussie Smollett, out of respect of not really knowing what was real, what wasn’t, what was an elongated truth, and what was lost in translation. I did believe him, because I thought “the guy’s an activist. Besides, who in the hell would go out of their way to make up a hate crime, especially in today’s tumultuous culture?” LGBTQ people get their fair deal of horrible experiences and I was taught to believe someone if they said they were a victim of hate.
Then, the whole “Gay Tupac” comment surfaced and I began to have doubts. It wasn’t really because he compared himself to Pac. Quite possibly everyone under 35 has, at one point or another, considered themselves comparable to Tupac. I didn’t really take umbrage with the comment. I began to have my doubts more so because he was so jovial about everything. I thought to myself “why the hell is he so gung-ho about this whole thing?” Still, I kept quiet, out of respect for the sensitive nature of the situation.
As the story evolved–or perhaps, devolved–more details came out that painted a very murky picture. In fact, the Chicago PD (who have a murky history of their own, but I can’t fully speak on that right now) say that he allegedly planned the whole thing himself. Apparently, it revolved around a pay raise or keeping from being written out of Empire. That seems a bit…off, but this whole thing seems off. We then received Smollett’s mugshot almost instantaneously.
Within the same 24 hours Jussie Smollett was arrested for this whole kerfuffle, more news began to hit about Christopher Hasson.
“Who’s that,” you ask?
Well, if we judge by the photo news sites and the like have used of him, he’s a sheepish, middle-aged White man who wouldn’t hurt a fly and is probably beloved by friends and family. Of course, that’s far from the truth. Last Friday, Christopher Hasson was arrested on drug and gun charges. And that’s not even the half of it.
Hasson, a self-professed Neo-Nazi, had 15 guns, over 1,000 rounds of ammunition, and was, according to prosecutors, planning to murder prominent Democrats and journalists. In other words, he was setting up for a large-scale hate crime of his own. The man was accused of being a domestic terrorist who, according to court papers, dreamed about killing just about everyone. But, the news cycles have been more focused on Smollett’s arrest, bail, and the like than Hasson’s court appearance/charges. On top of that, the fact that we received Smollett’s mugshot and see Christopher Hasson smirking in the picture released speaks volumes.
Yes, Smollett is accused of a crime. It is, in fact, a felony to do what he’s alleged of doing. He’s a celebrity, and a Black and gay one at that. Given society’s obsession with celebrity news, it’s almost a given that this is everywhere. And given a seemingly huge disdain for Black men and gay men–even more so for those who identify as both–some want to see this man with all sorts of egg on his face. So, I get the coverage from a “gotta pay the bills” standpoint.
With hate crimes being more noticeable these days because of social media, cancel culture, Twitter, and so on, anytime something comes out about one, it usually blows up and spreads like wildfire. In fact, some have become so numb to these heinous things because Twitter “does its thing” so often and/or you’re constantly bombarded with reminders that minorities, women, et cetera often walk around with targets on our backs.
However, let’s get real here.
A man was accused of being a domestic terrorist, arrested on domestic terrorism charges, deemed a “threat to the community,” and–according to court papers–has a slew of evidence to suggest that he wanted to kill vast amounts of people. Meanwhile, the media is focused on the Black gay dude who is accused of lying about a hate crime. Both crimes are horrible, but something seems off. We’ve gotten around-the-clock coverage of Smollett’s case and Hasson’s an afterthought? Something just doesn’t add up.
Let’s look at two news sites. CNN has two or three stories up about Hasson, one stating that his mindset is a “terrifying echo of our politics.” Meanwhile, they have seven pieces just today on Smollett’s case. Fox News has six pieces on Hasson, meanwhile this is the front page:
You have to scroll down to the “exclusive clips” section to even find the first mention of Hasson’s case.
Media bias is a real thing. Now, If Smollett lied, he deserves jail time. Black men and LGBTQ people have to deal with so much insanity already. I’m not gay, so I can’t really speak on the hardships that they go through on a personal level. I can only speak on what I know through conversations with LGBTQ people. They sometimes struggle to get people to believe them or pay attention to their causes because of their identification. With that in mind, they shouldn’t have to have it harder for people to believe that they’re being discriminated against or attacked because of who they are. The same thing, obviously, goes for Black heterosexual men. We all deal with having systems against us, so unity is key.
However, the scale of coverage of Smollett’s case versus an actual terrorist is skewed. And it shouldn’t be that way. You often hear Donald Trump bray on and on about “fake news.” Media bias and constantly parading around certain stories over others because of their ability to draw an audience is fake news. Today, many outlets have been guilty of it.
For all of the Black queer men and women out there, I pray that this whole Jussie Smollett incident doesn’t make your lives harder because of who you are. If something foul happens to you, please don’t fear reporting it because you think you’ll be “Jussied.” You still have an ally in little ol’ SOTB. That’s not much, but it’s all I can give.