One of Empire’s leading stars, Jussie Smollett, has recently been in the news in connection with a reported assault. Smollett reported a personal attack and explained a chemical substance, suspected to be bleach, was doused in his face. It was later said the two attackers screamed “MAGA country” as they flee, but that detail was later reported fictional. In the latest update, Smollett is being accused of “crying wolf” and making a false police report.
The police identified and apprehended the attackers using video surveillance nearby. Afterward, rumors of a concocted attack began circling the media outlets. Setting opinions aside, does crying wolf hurt assault victims moving forward?A similar scenario was observed when three gentlemen at Duke University were accused of rape by a woman, who ultimately was found to be untruthful. Unfortunately, the 3 students had already been convicted in the court of public opinion and suffered adverse consequences as a result of the accusation. Blogs and other media outlets are hinting at a similar effect in the Smollett accusation.
Smollett has maintained his accounts of the attack are true despite the authorities turning their focus to him as the perpetrator of a crime. With the media’s help, the case became a national issue and many appeared to judge quickly by their display of support for Smollett. People can take the least amount of information and form the most reliable opinions leading to unwarranted retaliation. The aftermath can escalate to the loss of a job or spreading false information that damages a brand or image. It is difficult to fight back if no one believes the actual story, resulting in feelings of helplessness. It can be overwhelming when others find it thrilling to gang up or attack as words, or emotional abuse is more traumatizing than physical abuse.
Count the Cost
Reactions to false accusations prevent victims from coming forward with their stories and in some cases, cause supporters to question versus rising to action. How do you see Smollett’s example affecting the assault victims in the future? Do you think Smollett should suffer consequences for making a false report? If so, what type of consequences? Share in the comments.