Did Smollet’s celebrity status keep him from jail time?

Michael McShane
Staff Writer

The last time I wrote about Jussie Smollet, he was under both scrutiny and investigation over whether he lied about getting attacked in a racially motivated hate crime. Since then, he has been given an unexpected dismissal of all charges while still proclaiming his innocence, but the city of Chicago is not finished with Jussie Smollet.

The city of Chicago announced it will be suing Smollet $130,000 to pay for the investigation into the alleged hate crime. 

With the controversial dismissal of Smollett’s charges being questioned and criticized for giving a celebrity a free pass to mislead investigators and waste resources, Chicago wants to make sure Smollett doesn’t walk away without paying some price.

Smollett shouldn’t be surprised from this. He should know by now that this will be hanging over his shoulders for the remainder of his career. 

But while suing Smollett to cover the cost of the investigation should get the coverage it is getting, we cannot ignore a much more pressing matter.

The prosecutors dropping all charges wasn’t just a shock to the country, it was a resounding example that name recognition and celebrity status changes how the law is handled. There is no way that this would be happening to a regular citizen with evidence against them on filing a false police report.

Smollet is not a regular citizen, he is a celebrity, whose high profile hate crime assault case has been observed by the entire nation. That is why it is so confusing and frustrating to think that a celebrity could possibly fake a hate crime and get away with it.

No one is above the law and having your name known to the populous doesn’t change that. Just like what is happening with the college acceptance scandal, having your career tarnished shouldn’t be the only punishment given to celebrities when they break the law, but jailtime if the punishment fits the crime.

So why is it that a celebrity can possibly go to prison for bribing to get their child into a university, but faking a hate crime and wasting police time and resources grants you a prosecutorial pardon?

If there was indeed enough evidence to charge Smollett with faking the attack, there should’ve been no reason for the prosecutor to drop the charges. 

This to me is a massive blow to the “Me Too” movement which has brought a voice to those who were afraid of speaking up about their assaults. Smollett faking a hate crime to boost his fame has now potentially made it so if a real attack would to occur against someone with any name recognition, it would first be looked at as a potential publicity stunt.

Because of that, I believe Smollett should pay back for all money used during the investigation. If jailtime is not an option, then some justice should be done against a man who decided to use society’s campaign against assault. 

Header photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

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