I mean, it’s better than the cake. The developing story of the latest fake hate assault has much more drama than the mere addition of some anti-gay icing.  Yet it’s the same contemptible attention- and money-seeking behavior (the cake guy sued Whole Foods; once WF proved he homophobed himself, it countersued), and UD has learned over the course of this blog that the business of staging things is sickeningly common. And of course incredibly destructive to efforts to take seriously actual hate crimes.

All the way back in 2004, UD covered the Professor Kerri Dunn business, when she spray-painted her car with swastikas etc. and everyone at Claremont McKenna rallied on her behalf and worried about incipient fascism until the guys who happened to be taking a walk nearby at the time she did it told the police about watching her paint her car. An education professor at Columbia University, under threat of dismissal for plagiarism (of her students!) hung a noose on her office door and claimed to be the victim of a hate crime. A conservative student at Princeton wrote himself some really nasty, anti-conservative letters and enjoyed right-wing martyrdom until he had to admit the truth…. Croyez-moi, I could go on! And on!

***********************

UPDATE: Now this I really don’t get. Washington Post, headline:

I DOUBTED JUSSIE SMOLLET. IT BREAKS MY HEART THAT I MIGHT BE RIGHT

Heartbreak is ridiculous. Anger’s the ticket. The Post editor continues:

I tried telling myself that it is possible that two assailants were walking around downtown Chicago at 2 a.m. in January in 10-degree weather, waiting for a black victim. In addition to that, they were stalking around with a bottle of bleach and a rope. And ultimately, the prey they selected was an actor on a show that they must’ve been somewhat familiar with, because they were able to not only name the show but also know that he played a gay character. Never mind the fact that he was likely bundled up because again: Chicago, January, 10 degrees. Also, after he fought to get away, he left the rope around his neck until he got to the hospital.

This ain’t doubt; it’s close to certain knowledge he was bullshitting. And he wasn’t new to bullshitting. Mature political actors – people like newspaper editors – don’t go into denial when people do bad, illegal, and destructive things; nor do they enter into heartbreak when what seemed obviously the case turns out to have been the case. When weirdly flagrant and flagrantly weird events occur, serious people respond with skepticism.

This is more like it:

Commentator Kmele Foster put it this way on “Reliable Sources” on Sunday: “Two in the morning, almost the coldest night of the year, you were attacked and someone conveniently had a rope? My heart goes out to anyone who gets attacked, but it’s totally appropriate to exercise a bit of skepticism and to exercise a bit of patience in waiting for the facts to develop around this story.”

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As for the legal implications:

Attorney and CBS2/KCAL9 Legal Analyst Steve Meister says every state penalizes fabricating a crime and the trouble this case has caused is serious.

“That’s felony conduct because you caused a lot of people a lot of problems and you cost the city a lot of money and you took time away from what cops could have been doing to solve real crimes.” Meister says.

He says every state’s laws vary as do the penalties. In California a felony conviction for lying to a police officer is punishable by up to three years in prison.

UPDATE:

This case is an object lesson in what happens when people in positions of political and cultural authority abandon critical thinking and pressure those who don’t abandon their circumspection under pain of being smeared as bigots.

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4 Responses to “This takes the cake.”

  1. Bruce Foster Says:

    In the posting you mentioned Kerri Dunn. I remembered the story well and I asked myself “Whatever happened to her?” The web gave me the answer. She is an adjunct professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice! Where is David Foster Wallace or Thomas Pynchon. Only they could write an ending to the story so bizarre.

  2. UD Says:

    Bruce: And that isn’t even the ending. She’s relatively young yet and has many more mountains to climb.

  3. theprofessor Says:

    My guess is that however pissed off the Chicago police might be, Rahm would have leaned on them and the prosecutors to let him off lightly. Jussie’s big problem is going to be the hoax letter with the powdered aspirin/Tylenol. That is going to pull in the FBI and Post Office inspectors, who have decidedly intolerant attitudes about these things. If he’s indicted on federal charges, Rahm and his peeps will chuck Jussie under the bus. Jussie’s good pals Kamala and Cory have already sprinted for the tall grass.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Kamala, Cory, and others look real bad – this will do them damage as they launch their campaigns. If Jussie wrote the letter (looks as though he did), you’re right – he’s in deep shit. But he should look on the bright side: He’s also half Jewish and he restrained himself from adding an antisemitic component to the attack…

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