People justify disrespect, deceit, and division by pointing to someone else. I get it; the end justifies the means. And the other person is always said to have done it first.
But maybe the means isn’t justified. And maybe that’s part of current culture’s huge problem.
Note the following recent, brief excerpt from ABC’s popular “Good Morning America,” in which host Robin Roberts interviewed Jussie Smollett, a well-known black, gay actor, who reported being assaulted on the 29th of January:
Roberts: “I’m Robin Roberts in New York. Musician and actor Jussie Smollett sat down with me for his first interview since that night in Chicago. Smollett told me how he’s doing now and responds to those who doubt his account.”
Smollett: [teary] “I’m pissed off.”
Roberts: “What is it that has you so angry? The attackers?”
Smollett: “It’s the attackers, but it’s also the attacks. It’s like, you know, at first it was a thing of like, ‘Listen, if I tell the truth, then that’s it, ‘cause it’s the truth.’ Then it became a thing of like, ‘Oh, how can you doubt that? Like how do, how do you not believe that?’ It’s the truth. And then it became a thing of, ‘Oh, it’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth; you don’t even want to see the truth.’”
Roberts then asks Smollett to share what happened that night. Smollett describes the events… having no food in his apartment, he went out “for a smoke,” ran to Subway, got his order, was on the phone with his manager, when someone called out “Empire,” suggesting Smollett was identified by the TV show he’s on. Smollett then starts by sharing details how “the attacker, masked” initiated the confrontation by using racial, homophobic slurs and talked about this being “MAGA country.” They started fighting — Smollett and two others — putting a rope around Smollett’s neck, but walking away. He admittedly couldn’t tell you much about his attackers — couldn’t see much in the icy cold of Chicago at two o’clock in the morning. He didn’t have any measurable injuries, but said he was “in a lot of pain” and his clavicle was a little messed up.
The media reacted immediately. Said CNN’s Brooke Baldwin in response: “He [Smollett] said his attackers hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him. This is America in 2019.”
Except that it’s not. Yes, there are slurs and division fueled and fed by the left, right, even CNN. There are awful, awful hate crimes. But there’s a problem.
Smollett’s story is not believed to be true. As more info has been released, the Chicago police no longer consider Smollett a victim; in fact, the investigation is now focused on whether or not Smollett made up the entire account, maybe even practiced, staged, and purchased the props beforehand. Note, too, that there exists no evidence nor eyewitness of the attack — even though CNN, etal. ran with the hate crime story. We thus must ask:
(1) What narrative did this play into that CNN, etal. seemed wanting to promote?
And (2) Where else is the media rushing to judgment because it plays into their desired narrative?
Let’s go back to more of Smollett’s actual words with Robin Roberts — said after the incident but before the police and the public started to conclude that Smollett was once again acting…
Roberts: “Why do you think you were targeted?”
Smollett: “I can just assume [breaks into broad smile]… I mean, I come really, really hard against 45 [Trump]. I come really, really hard against his administration, and I don’t hold my tongue…”
Roberts: “And there is no doubt in your mind what motivated this attack?”
Smollett: “I can only go off of their words. I mean, who says ‘f*** Empire ***** — this MAGA country’, ties a noose around your neck, and pours bleach on you?…”
And one more line, when questioned about some of the initial doubt, before, of course, it was believed that Jussie Smollett concocted the entire scenario…
Smollett: “That says a lot about the place where we are in our country right now — the fact that we have these fear mongers. These people are trying to separate us, and it’s just not ok.”
That indeed says a lot. It indeed is not ok. It’s not ok for any hate crime to occur; it’s also not ok for any man or woman to make something up nor the media to irresponsibly run with it.
Hence, no man nor woman should ever be assaulted. No man nor woman should have the whole truth not believed. But no man nor woman should also ever create, share, and promote a mistruth, believing divisively, that the end somehow justifies the means.