Jussie Smollett gets five months in jail…

…. for one of the more disgusting, destructive hoaxes this nation has seen. Background here.

“Shame on Jussie Smollett for putting American hoax actors out of business by hiring Nigerians to do it.”

Humor means we’re getting over it. Good.

Now that he’s been found guilty…

here are UD‘s Jussie Smollett posts from 2019, when the story broke. A most contemptible man.


It was too hard to believe that any of this could be made up, because what kind of person would do something like this?

A former supporter of Smollett’s gets to the heart of so many hoaxes – from people (many of them academics) pretending to be minorities, to people pretending to have been physically attacked because of their minority status. You have to be one sick fuck to conceive of this behavior, let alone pull it off, and then sustain the hoax into the indefinite future. What kind of person…?

But our job is not to stand around being incredulous. After all of the destructive hoaxers we’ve encountered over the last few years, and in anticipation of others, we owe it to our social world to educate ourselves in the ways of our Smolletts and Bourassas. We have to try to see them coming. As UD has often said (having covered such hoaxers on this blog for a long time), one common tip-off is trying too hard. These people lay it on too thick: They claim large and proliferating minority memberships (tribal, ethnic, etc.); they claim the people who beat them up did this and did that and oh yeah I just remembered they did that too… Look into almost any recent high-profile hoax and you see this characteristic of overdoing, overkill, as if the hoaxer fears insufficient minoritization/torment will fail to convince. Or – just as likely – their motive isn’t really a motive at all, but rather an uncontrolled manifestation of their madness. Nuts don’t act in measured ways.


Update: A Smollett juror illustrates the peril of overdoing.

Hm. Didn’t think he could get any more contemptible.

I was wrong.

‘Don’t you think for the attackers to have yelled a racist slur as well as a homophobic slur as well as having a bottle of bleach as well as having a noose sounds a bit overdetermined…?’

This excellent question about the Smollett hoax right away reminded UD of another overdetermined hoax – a university one. And maybe in this overdetermined business there’s one small clue for us as we go about defending ourselves from hoaxers.

Seeking to destroy the faculty member who discovered his fraudulent credentials and research, West Virginia University epidemiology professor Anoop Shankar had an Indian friend go to this colleague’s office and …

“You Indians have nice brown skin,” [the colleague] allegedly said [to the student]. “But you smell weird with the spices that you use for cooking.”

Right about then the grey-haired professor supposedly pulled his chair closer and snatched at the young man’s penis.

[A second friend of Shankar’s, standing just outside the office,] claimed that from the hallway, he could then hear [the professor] rise from his chair and say loudly to [the young man], “Here, taste my white c–k.”

[The young man] said he fled rather than reciprocate and that [the professor] flew into a rage, his words echoing into the corridor: “I will destroy you!”

Allow UD to quote herself, starting with her post’s title:


When scripting these scenarios (one of the friends later confessed that Shankar had written and directed this drama), you need to be selective. Minimalism is more plausible than maximalism to most audiences. Deciding to throw in not merely an ethnic slur, but sexual harassment, and not merely sexual harassment but sexual assault, and not merely sexual assault but violent threat of retaliation, is just the sort of excess you’d expect from a sociopath.

Another example of piling on: The chief of staff at Upstate Medical College claimed

that he narrowly escaped a car bombing in Afghanistan… [that] he was hired by former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to work in the State Department, that he was in the White House when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred in September 2001 and is close friends with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

This takes the cake.

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:


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.”


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.


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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