CNN has this story about today’s sentencing of actor Jussie Smollett. He was given 30 months of felony probation, ordered to pay restitution of more than $120,000 and a $25,000 fine and spend 150 days in jail for making false reports to police that he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019. In fact, Smollett himself hired two men he knew to stage the “attack” so that he could go on the now routine diatribe about how Amerika is a racist and homophobic cesspool. One might think he was trying out for a spot in the administration of an Ivy League college.
Mr. Smollett’s performance today did not disappoint.
The judge was having none of Mr. Smollett’s self righteous, “I’m-a-victim” baloney:
Cook County Judge James Linn spoke for more than 30 minutes before announcing Smollett’s sentence, telling the actor that he wrote the script and picked the actors for the hoax, and that his premeditation for the act was an “aggravating factor” in the case.
“There’s a side of you that has this arrogance, and selfishness and narcissism that’s just disgraceful,” the judge said. “You’re not a victim of a racial hate crime, you’re not a victim of a homophobic hate crime. You’re just a charlatan pretending to be a victim of a hate crime, and that’s shameful.”
The facts of the case are by now well known and summarized as follows by CNN:
Smollett, 39, was found guilty in December on five counts of felony disorderly conduct for making false reports about what he said was an anti-gay and anti-Black hate crime.
The actor, who is Black and gay, told Chicago police that on a frigid night in January 2019 two unknown men attacked him, yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, poured bleach on him and wrapped a noose around his neck.
Celebrities and politicians rushed to defend him publicly, and Chicago police investigated the case as a possible hate crime. But they soon determined the actor orchestrated the incident and paid two brothers he knew from the Fox drama “Empire” to stage the incident for publicity.
Smollett maintained his innocence under oath during the trial, but the jury convicted him on five of six felony charges after nine hours of deliberations.
But Mr. Smollett wasn’t done:
After the judge announced his sentence, Smollett lowered his face mask and said he was innocent. “Your honor, I respect you and I respect the jury, but I did not do this,” the actor told the judge, before turning to the court. “And I am not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that.”
Just before he was taken into custody, the actor yelled again that he was innocent and raised a fist in the air.
At that point, had I been the judge, I would have said something like, “Mr. Smollett, I see we’re not quite done here. Would you please return to the podium so that I can set forth a revised sentence,” whereupon I would have doubled the amount of time to be spent behind bars. Faking a hate crime to fan racial antagonism is bad enough, but continuing aggressively to lie about it in the face of overwhelming evidence is an unacceptable affront to due process. I am generally opposed to “making an example” of a defendant, but to every rule there is an exception, and we heard from the exception today.