The media jumped on a ridiculous story that has now totally unraveled. Empire actor Jussie Smollett claimed that two men assaulted him, poured bleach on him, put a noose around his neck, while telling him “this is MAGA country” in Chicago.
The story quickly unraveled. The Chicago Police Department investigated his claims. Smollett didn’t cooperate.
This week, we’ve found out that the entire thing was a hoax.
It’s sick. There are people who really are victims of racisms, victims of other forms of prejudice. It’s a wicked thing. But for Smollett to use victimhood, for him to use those who really have suffered as a ploy to help further his career and ain media attention, it’s sick. It’s twisted.
Some have still tried to paint him as the victim in this.
Truth needs to matter more than the narrative. He lied. He committed multiple state and federal crimes in the process.
We live in an instant world. We’re used to information coming at light speed. But sometimes we need to actually wait for facts. Sometimes we need to sort things out before we can form reasonable opinions. That didn’t happen here. And the media, and our politicians, and our celebrities are guilty of this all the time. Jumping on what confirms their bias, and then when contrary evidence comes out, getting quiet, still trying to justify lies, still playing games.
Truth needs to be viewed as intrinsically good. Even if we don’t like it, even if it’s a truth we don’t want to believe, truth itself is worth knowing because that is what connects us to reality.
I’ve heard some people lament the revelation that this story if a fraud, fearing that this could have a boy who cried wolf affect on future victims. Again, there are undoubtedly real victims of hate crimes. We shouldn’t use this as a reason to disbelieve people out of hand.
But we should be reminded in this case, and with everything else we see in the news to want facts which support claims.
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Josh Benner has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has served churches in Minnesota and Illinois. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in St. Louis.