The Jussie Smollett hoax reveals deeper deceptions
While the extent of Jussie Smollett’s grandiose deception is still being determined, the jig is quite unceremoniously up. The Empire star allegedly orchestrated and paid Nigerian actors to take place in his scheme, an arranged racially motivated assault in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood on January 29, 2019. As of February 18th, the false report is allegedly being presented to a grand jury for a decision on formally pursuing the lie in a court of law.
When the attack was quickly flagged as proof of the dangerous social climate for people of colour and sexual minorities, the case’s subsequent collapse became flagged as the opposite—a veritable criminal hacky sack. The political undertones existed from the moment the news broke, with major politicians and celebrities chiming in to signal and “send love” as Ariana Grande put it.
All of this undeveloped discourse has led me to ask: what is a hate crime, exactly? It’s not difficult to understand the legal definition, being a crime motivated by a particular prejudice or bias, but even that raises questions. Are all crimes, especially those which seek to physically harm or end the lives of the victim, motivated by hatred, bias, or prejudice? Why is a racist murdering an individual because of their skin color more heinous than a husband murdering his wife because of a suspected affair, or a daughter murdering her mother because she wouldn’t let her see a certain boy?
Any true crime fanatic likely has a mental repertoire of horrific crimes committed for reasons ranging from the bizarre to the benign—each arguably no more or less absurd than skin colour, hair texture, eye shape, or sexuality. But the concept of “hate crime” denotes that these reasons are not only more irrational in logic than, say, a murder committed over sneakers, but that they are also more traumatic.
Put simply, hate crimes are the only types of crime that primarily focus on the social dynamics and identities of the individuals involved, rather than the actions perpetrated. Hate crimes can be, and are, easily exploited to meet political ends, with very little outrage over the manipulation of someone’s pain for another’s benefit because that’s their entire purpose. The creation of a superlative category of criminal activity, one meant to be considered particularly sinister in its motivation.
To demonstrate the absurdity of that point, I’d like to recall a case I reviewed in depth during my time studying criminology in college. Unfamiliar to almost no one, the 1999 Columbine High School shooting sent shockwaves across the world. Twelve students and one teacher were murdered during the unconscionable attack perpetrated by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Among the passed was one hardworking African-American student by the name of Isaiah Shoels.
Shoels’ parents campaigned for particular recognition of their son’s death as a hate crime, specifically resulting from the general condition of racist hate, which understandably upset many Columbine parents and community members. During the subsequent lawsuit the Columbine parents waged against the gun suppliers Harris and Klebold sourced their weapons from, the Shoels had to be forced to accept the ultimate settlement by the court, feeling entitled to more than the other parents received because of their son’s race.
If Isaiah’s pain had been stamped a hate crime, it would have removed all caps on punitive damages, and significantly increased the Shoels’ settlements. The Shoels’ also perused separate lawsuits against the school and the parents of the killers, all while championing the issue of hate crimes on national television.
While I could never purport to understand the pain a parent must go through when forced to bury their child, the Shoels’ contention proves a rather interesting thought experiment on hate crimes. Ultimately, their assertion was that they did suffer more than the other families who also lost their loved ones that same day, in the same crime. That the introduction of racial dynamics into the crime made Isaiah’s death much worse.
And that is the problem.
Did Harris and Klebold not hate everyone in that school they murdered in cold blood? Why is the hate they might have felt towards Isaiah in need of special condemnation? Why is the hate of any murderer, batterer, rapist, or creep less significant if their motivation was not identity-based?
If criminal sentencing serves the function of attempting to place a value on the consequences of an individual’s actions, then hate crime designations provide some individuals with more value than others, even if every other element of the crime was equal to another where the identities did not have that magic mix.
If you are a black woman who was attacked by a white man, your suffering has more value than if you were the same person attacked by anyone else. There is something so fundamentally absurd about that, I can’t quite wrap my head around it. It’s even been difficult to articulate this post.
Returning to Jussie Smollett, while his case continues to deteriorate, it has proved an interesting study in the public perception of hate crimes. They’re a purely political artefact, snatched and hoarded by whatever group feels entitled to utilize them for the benefit of their agenda.
They’re exploited and sensationalized like no other crime, demanding fanfare manhunts and fanfare charges to meet the inflated idea of their prevalence and importance. But even if the official designation were to disappear overnight, the continued use would remain, and the results would be the same:
Nothing of benefit to anyone.
Yesterday, the Canada Border Services Agency released information stating that they have made searches of over 27,000 travellers’ devices between 2017 and 2019. That is the largest number that has been revealed yet. Some MPs have advocated for more privacy protection against these random searches through people’s personal information through things like phones and iPads.
The Border Services Agency has not disclosed the number of cellphones that they have seized. They also would not say which crossings made the most searches.
According to Blacklocks, privacy commissioner, Daniel Therrien said, “Those devices contain a lot of sensitive information. So, we should be very concerned.”
The Commissioner found that the CBSA breached the Privacy Act twice in an investigation conducted in 2019.
According to the agency, approximately 60 percent of searches don’t require additional investigation. Staff noted, “Approximately forty percent of device examinations resulted in a customs-related offence.”
A 2017 report by the Commons committee called Protecting Canadian’s Privacy At The U.S. Border noted that Canadians travelling between countries should have more protection from these types of searches. MP’s wrote, “Electronic devices contain very sensitive personal information. The law should therefore recognize this new reality and redress the balance between border protection, national security and the protection of Canadians’ privacy.”
Bob Zimmer, a Conservative MP in B.C. told reporters, “Many Canadians are concerned about protecting their personal information when travelling beyond our borders. That is why we are recommending the government modernize the Customs Act to ensure personal information on electronic devices is protected and should only be examined with reasonable grounds.”
Wayne Long, a Liberal MP for Saint John-Rothesay, N.B., mentioned in committee hearings that he was detained at the border for around 30 minutes while his phone was being searched by agents.
Long noted, “They don’t have to give you entry to the States, but from a Canadians’ viewpoint, how concerned should Canadians be?”
“We cross now with our iPads and laptops and our phones, and in my phone is my banking information and my emails,” Long said. “It’s not just texts and pictures anymore. It’s basically your life history and all your records. On a scale of one to ten, how concerned as Canadians should we be?”
Commissioner Therrien replied that he is “very concerned” and said, “As a matter of principle, it is right to say these devices contain a lot of personal information, very sensitive information, and when the law—including Canadian law—continues to treat the contents of electronic devices as goods, it is just not realistic.”
An Indian man has died after being attacked by his own rooster en route to a cockfight.
According to local police, Saripalli Chanavenkateshwaram Rao was killed after the man’s rooster slashed him in the neck with a blade tied on the rooster’s claw.
The man was taken to the hospital where he succumbed from his injuries.
A police officer told CNN that Rao was a local cockfighter, with his cock having attempted to run away on the way to his cockfight.
Rao hailed from a southern Indian village in the state of Andhra Pradesh, and passed away at the age of 55.
The Independent reported that the man was cut in the stomach rather than the neck, and was holding the cock to his stomach.
Though cockfights became illegal in India in 1960, cock enthusiasts continue to pit the birds against each other as a form of gambling and entertainment. The practice remains popular, as many believe state authorities “turn a blind eye” towards it.
“It is not just for entertainment that these animals are made to fight, but it is [also] due to the heavy betting and gambling that goes on in the garb of these events,” one animal rights activist told CNN.
The country’s Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld a ban on cockfights, to little avail.
Potential leadership candidate Richard Decarie has been lampooned by Conservative leadership contenders after he suggested that being gay was a choice.
Speaking on CTV’s Power Play program, Decarie stated that LGBTQ was a “Liberal term,” and that homosexuality was a “choice,” sparking outrage within Conservative circles who are desperately attempting to seem less anachronistic.
Decarie is a prospective leadership contender. His qualifications include serving as Harper’s deputy chief of staff and was also an advisor to Quebec Liberal premier Jean Charest.
Leadership frontrunner and former Harper minister Peter MacKay responded to Decarie’s comment by saying, “Being gay is not a choice and nobody should be running for office on a platform to roll back hard-won rights.” MacKay rounded all this up nicely by posting an image of the top candidates condemning Decarie: “The future of the Conservative Party looks bright.”
Conservative MP and leadership candidate Marilyn Gladu, who distanced herself from the abortion debate, and offered to march in a gay pride parade, told her twitter following that “I have been clear: I will stand up for the rights and freedoms of every Canadian. What has been said is unacceptable.”
Former Harper Minister, Conservative Shadow Minister of Finance, and Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre also rapidly responded to Decarie’s comments by saying that his utterances were “as unacceptable as they are ignorant … Being gay is NOT a choice. Being ignorant is.”
Leadership contender and former Veteran Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole, who also serves as the Conservative Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, similarly slated the former Harper staffer. O’Toole stated indignantly, “The Conservative Party is open to ALL Canadians.”
Twitter user Yukon Strong, 40-year-old hunting guide, photographer and IT manager DJ Sumanik, has recently been on a mission to destroy Justin Trudeau’s anti-gun narrative, and has done so in just two minutes.
In a two-minute video, Yukon Strong uses numbers from Statistics Canada on handguns, and “military-style semi-automatics,” a loosely defined term.
The breakdown of weapons used in a homicide clearly shows that handguns are the most used weapons for murders, despite being tightly regulated and federally registered because the majority of gun crime is committed with illegal guns smuggled in from America, which was hammered home by Winnipeg Const. Rob Carver who called the ban “nonsense”.
“Handguns are tightly regulated, they’re federally registered since the 1930s, you need serial numbers, addresses, owners, they’re all tracked every 24 hours by the RCMP, and you need special permits authorization to transport in order to take them to a gun range, and that is the only place that you can go to with a handgun,” Yukon Strong explains.
Despite the fact that long guns and hunting rifles aren’t as tightly monitored, handguns are used much more often for gun crime.
Yukon Strong also found some old footage of Trudeau saying he wouldn’t take guns away from Canadians.
A full breakdown of the graph, which includes data by Stats Can, can be found here.
Lawful Canadian gun owners have filled out a petition that has over 90,000 signatures calling for the proposed gun ban to be scrapped, which dwarfs another petition calling for their ban.