As you may recall, Jussie Smollett was convicted on five of six felony counts of disorderly conduct back in December. The evidence of his guilt was overwhelming. Prosecutors had testimony from both of the Osundairo brothers saying Smollett had hired them to fake the hate crime attack. They also had video of Smollett driving the brothers to the scene of the attack a day before it happened, part of a “dry run.”

Today the NY Times reports that some of Smollett’s famous friends have written letters to the judge in advance of his sentencing tomorrow, begging for mercy on his behalf.

Ahead of a sentencing hearing on Thursday, celebrities and racial justice advocates like Samuel L. Jackson and his wife, the actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson; the Rev. Jesse Jackson; and Derrick Johnson, the president of the N.A.A.C.P., have written letters pleading for leniency for Jussie Smollett, the actor convicted of falsely reporting that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack.

“Jussie has already suffered,” the Rev. Jackson wrote to the judge handling the case. “He has been excoriated and vilified in the court of public opinion. His professional reputation has been severely damaged.”…

In their letter to Judge Linn, Samuel L. Jackson and LaTanya Richardson Jackson said they have known Mr. Smollett since he was a child and later through charitable work. The Jacksons asked Judge Linn for “mercy” and argued that Mr. Smollett “used his celebrity to impact community outreach work,” including to aid people in Flint, Mich., during the water crisis.

In his letter, Rev. Jesse Jackson wrote that he worried about Mr. Smollett’s safety in prison as a “well-known, nonviolent, Black, gay man with Jewish heritage.”

Jackson’s letter is the perfect coda to this story. The man who lied about the race of his attackers, suggesting white racists wanted to lynch him because he’s black and gay, is now too delicate for prison because he’s black, gay and Jewish.

Of course the idea of mercy is that one need not deserve it. Sometimes mercy is extended because mercy is a good thing in itself. But I don’t think Jussie Smollett deserves mercy and here are my two reasons.

He inflamed racial tensions nationwide based on a lie and he did it purely for selfish reasons.

If Smollett had faked a hate crime out of some purely altruistic motive (i.e. to raise consciousness about an issue) that would still be a despicable act but it would at least be selfless one. But no, Smollett’s motive was to get more attention for himself, to make himself a celebrated victim. And he was willing to invent a pair of white racist attackers to do it. The alleged hate crime was touted far and wide by politicians on the left as an example of the kind of hate that needed to be stamped out.

This quickly became a partisan talking point and everyone knew who the bad guys were. Only there weren’t any bad guys except Smollett himself, a pampered TV star looking for more attention.

Still, some will say that no one was really hurt in this hoax and Smollett isn’t a big league criminal so why not let him walk? And that brings us to point two.

Smollett lied then and has continued to lie ever since

Smollett has been lying about this case for three years. He lied to the entire nation during a TV interview about the attack. He lied to the jury. He is still claiming to this day that there was no hoax, only a real attack.

Even people who commit serious crimes can be shown mercy by a judge when they show some genuine remorse for their actions. Remorse requires some expression of contrition and shame. A murderer can show remorse and that can be factored into his sentence.

Jussie Smollett is not that person. He’s the person who tried to pull one over on the entire nation and when he got caught he just kept lying, leaning on his team of lawyers and his celebrity friends. Despite the fact that he’s not facing much time even under the worst case scenario, Smollett won’t admit what he did.

Who knows, maybe tomorrow he’ll come to court and confess what he did and ask for mercy. If so, that’s a different story. But as it stands now, I hope the judge throws the book at him and sentences him to a year in prison followed by some community service and probation. He’ll still be out in a matter of months but he’ll at least have some time to think about what he did wrong.

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