“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett choreographed an attack against himself, in an attempt to raise his profile, police said Thursday.
Focus on the rising tide of hate violence
By Chad Griffin
The news about Jussie Smollett is both devastating and frustrating. But I want to ask everyone feeling angry, hurt and disappointed to channel those emotions into productive activism — because there are thousands who are targeted by hate violence each year who need our help.
The rising tide of hate violence has had a devastating impact on black people, LGBTQ people, religious minorities and those living at the intersections. At least 26 transgender people were killed in 2018 alone — and many were clearly bias-motivated crimes.
Stopping the epidemic of hate violence will require concrete action from lawmakers through improved and mandatory reporting of all hate crimes (hate crime reporting by local authorities is voluntary), passage of state laws that protect LGBTQ people, and expanded education and training for law enforcement. It also requires that we create a climate where survivors are believed and empowered to come forward knowing their crimes will be thoroughly investigated.
Please join me in calling for action on policies that can end this scourge of violence and calling attention to people impacted by hate violence already this year:
►Last month in Houston, Candice Elease Pinky — a black trans woman — was chased down, shot several times in broad daylight, and left in a gas station parking lot.
►Elizabeth Cole, a transgender woman from, Henderson, Nevada, was shot in the neck by her neighbor.
►In Austin, Texas, Spencer Deehring and Tristan Perry — a gay couple — were severely beaten outside a bar.
► In Montgomery, Alabama, Dana Martin — a black trans woman — was found brutally murdered, and officials continue to misgender her to the public.
Chad Griffin is president of the Human Rights Campaign. You can follow him on Twitter: @ChadHGriffin, where he tweeted this thread.
What others are saying
Samantha Allen, Daily Beast: “Those who weaponize hate crime hoaxes to cast automatic doubt on all victims of racist and anti-LGBT violence have just gotten a brand new Exhibit A — and one that dominated national headlines for a month. If it’s true that Smollett staged this attack, he will have made it all the more challenging for the next actual victim of such violence to be heard and believed. The surrounding furor could even deter victims from reporting. That kind of harm is concrete and tangible. Real people will suffer.”
New York City Anti-Violence Project, statement: “The clients who walk into our offices every day are surviving a culture of violence against LGBTQ people, especially people of color and those of trans experience. It’s unfortunate if anyone, especially someone with this large of a platform, would falsify any parts of a story of hate violence. Still, the reality is that far too many survivors aren’t believed and don’t get justice for the violence they experience. That’s why we are quick to affirm and believe survivors when they share their stories.”
Megan McArdle, The Washington Post: “Bogus attacks may feel more authentic than actual ones because, luckily, most of us know these extreme forms of violence only from what we’ve seen on-screen. We amplify stories that tickle our narrative neurons, overlooking more complicated real attacks where the significance must be explained. This does a grave disservice to real victims. If we focus on the stories that give us the narratives we’re looking for, we’re going to end up with a disproportionate amount of fiction.”
What our readers are saying
If Jussie Smollett faked his attack, he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
— Scott Cotterell
I’m sure there are many who will celebrate this development in Smollett’s case, but I find it rather sad as to the state of our country.
— Edward W. Greenlee
This is what happens when we glorify victimhood as some sort of badge of honor. It’s such a pull to be pitied that Smollett allegedly felt the urge to stoop to this level.
— Andrew Miller
Politicians who initially condemned the attack and expressed effusive support for the actor have backed off, either deleting their tweets or saying they’re reserving comment until “all the information comes out.” Wouldn’t it have been nice if they had done that initially?
— Lloyd Vingette
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