Shocked, shocked, I tell you! From CNN:

Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that Chicago Police believe Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault.

The brothers, who were arrested Wednesday, were released without charges Friday after Chicago police cited the discovery of “new evidence.” The sources told CNN that the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement.

Smollett told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.” He said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.

The sources told CNN that there are records that show the two brothers purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at an Ace Hardware store in Chicago.

Why, it was only a few weeks back when we were reading stuff like this, from Joe Berkowitz writing in Fast Company:

The recent Covington High School incident proved to be a political Rorshach test. You might have seen sneering twits in MAGA hats taunting an elder Native American, or perhaps you saw patriotic youngsters framed by a media too eager to torment U.S. president Donald Trump and his supporters. Even as the dramatic final days of the longest government shutdown in history wore on, the national conversation coalesced around who was at fault in that viral moment–and what had actually happened.

One heated point of contention around the issue, though, is what message the students’ MAGA hats inherently conveyed: innocent support for the president, or something more malevolent. Both sides-ing media outlets like Politico rushed into the fray to defend MAGA hats, while Alyssa Milano incurred a backlash for denouncing them as the new “white hoods.” Partly missing from this conversation were the cold hard facts about how many violent acts have been committed in the name of Trump’s movement. On Tuesday morning, there was a devastating reminder.

Actor Jussie Smollett, best known for his role on Empire, was reportedly beaten, taunted with homophobic and racial slurs, doused with bleach, and assaulted with a noose-like rope around the neck by two white men in ski masks, who told him, “This is MAGA country.”

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Let’s remember that the media took the Native American “elder” Nathan Phillips’s lies (see here and here) about the Covington Catholic boys seriously. It confirmed their biases about white males who wear MAGA hats.

In Jussie Smollett’s case, the claim that two people in Chicago would have attacked this guy at 2 a.m. on a subzero night with a rope, yelling “This is MAGA country!” ought to have set off people’s b.s. detectors.

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In the Washington Post in the immediate aftermath of the Smollett attack, Eugene Scott, who covers identity politics, wrote:

Smollett’s experience is far too common for black gay men, particularly those who speak out against racism and sexism. As activist Preston Mitchum wrote:

“Everyday our multiple marginalized identities increase our chances of facing racist, homophobic vitriol — and this fact has only intensified under the Trump administration with their dog whistle politics. So as we wait to see if justice is served for Smollett, we as Black queer people wait to see if America will finally see our lives as worth protecting. Because history has rarely been on the side of Black queer folk.”

Why, Donald Trump himself might as well have been on the streets of Chicago, beating up poor Jussie. Lesbian actress Ellen Page went on national television and, in an emotional tirade (starts below at the 7:00 mark), blamed Mike Pence for what happened to Jussie Smollett:

So now, will she apologize for her smear? Please. When it comes to hate crime hoaxes, the Reichstag fire is eternal.

At this point, you’d have to be an idiot to believe any of these claims until and unless there is clear proof. Don’t forget that Smollett went on Good Morning America the other day to whine about people not believing him. He said:

“I have to acknowledge the lies, and the hate. And it feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more. A lot more. And that says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now.”

… “I could only go off of their words. I mean, who says, “f—– ‘Empire’ n—–,” “This is MAGA country, n—–,” ties a noose around your neck, and pours bleach on you? And this is just a friendly fight? It’s unbelievable to me that anything of this has come to this. That every single thing that I have done, every single thing that I have cooperated with, somehow has gotten twisted into being some bull that it’s not.”

Interview below. I hope the Chicago police throw the book at this guy.

UPDATE: Smollett’s lawyers say it’s not true.

UPDATE.2: This blog post’s contents cannot be said on Facebook. This is how the soft totalitarianism is going to come: by those who control the primary means of sharing information deciding that news and commentary that don’t fit the Narrative cannot be shared:

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