Innocent or not, Jussie Smollett teaches us about being reactionary

| Forum Editor

The Jussie Smollett case has reached what I hope is the end with all 16 of his felony charges being dropped. In sum, this case has been exhausting. From his initial claims of being attacked, to holes being poked in his account, to the Chicago Police Department suddenly being trusted despite the constant leaks of information, to Jussie’s eventual arrest, it has been a wild ride. Unfortunately, Jussie’s confusing, changing story may make it even harder for victims of hate crimes to report their experiences in the future (a rising trend in recent years).

This case exemplifies our society’s reactionary nature when it comes to news events. We are fed so many stories every second of every day that we develop opinions on the fly without waiting for the situation to evolve. Everyone feels the need to have an opinion on everything, no matter what it is. It has killed nuance and conversation and has allowed witty sound bites to replace actual conversations.

Think about Twitter. We are given access to influential people 280 characters at a time. Presidents, celebrities, athletes and every brand have an account that regularly interacts with their fans. With this close of access comes even more information about them and more reactions. News sites send out information at every hour of the day; and since every story seems so huge, we feel like we have to react. International news was once something that was given to us by trustworthy news sources. Now, we can easily see hundreds of news stories from every country at a moment’s request. Facebook and YouTube are arguably worse as they have given rise to untrustworthy sources being seen by millions. It is hard to know what is and isn’t fake anymore with everyone being able to produce content that initially seems high quality and sounds like it makes sense.

I say this in the hopes that we begin to take a step back and not rush to judgment. Just think what this case did to us. The Chicago Police Department, the same organization that lied about shooting Laquan McDonald when there was video proof that revealed their lies, the same organization that staged a bait truck to arrest Black citizens and the same organization that has had to pay at least $662 million for police misconduct. Six hundred and sixty-two million dollars. All for misconduct. What makes them suddenly more trustworthy? Just because one case may go in their favor doesn’t excuse the decades of racial profiling.

No matter the case, whether it fits your worldview or not, take a minute and breathe.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.