Jussie Smollett mug shot
Five months is a helluva punishment. Credit: Cook County Sheriff's Office

Let’s start with an apology to readers tired of reading about Jussie Smollett—because having watched last week’s sentencing, I just got to get something off my chest . . .

150 days! Are you kidding me?

My Smollett-hating readers, I realize, have a point—there are far more compelling matters to discuss, what with the species on the verge of destroying itself throughout the world. But, still . . .

150 days? That’s five freaking months! 

OK, Smollett may serve less, if they take time off for good behavior. But still, that’s a helluva punishment for the high crime of being a horse’s ass.

At last Thursday’s sentencing, Cook County judge James Linn declared the time had come to take a strong stand against Smollett’s dirty deeds. “The hammer of justice has to fall,” the judge proclaimed, “and it’s falling right here. Right now.”

It was, he added, a “heater” case—that is, a crime so upsetting it put “a stain on a city that prides itself on diversity.”

Hmm. Well, with all due respect to the judge, I’m not really sure Chicagoans take pride in diversity. Neighborhoods around here generally stay integrated from the time the first Black family moves in until the last white one moves out—to paraphrase Saul Alinsky.

And I’m not even sure this case is a heater.

Typical heaters involve crimes so horrific there’s a universal outcry to find the culprits, if only to rid the streets of a dangerous threat.

I think we’ll all agree that under that definition, Smollett’s crime is more theater than heater.

There was no dangerous criminal to get off the streets, as the only crime was the crime of making up a hate crime.

From the moment Smollett emerged with his tall tale of being attacked by two white guys in MAGA hats while walking home from a Subway sandwich shop at two in the morning on one of the coldest nights of the year—well, everyone pretty much knew he was full of shit. Don’t believe me, check out Dave Chappelle’s take.

No, if there was any compelling reason for police to move heaven and earth to find out what happened to Jussie, it was to prove he was a fraud, and to embarrass the liberal types in Hollywood who fell for his fantasies.

In short, blowing open Jussie’s story was as much about owning the libs as solving a crime. And it will always be about owning the libs, judging by the MAGA fundraising emails I receive using Jussie to demonstrate the softness of Democrats on crime.

To understand the context of the fury over Jussie, go back to November 2015. That’s when a Cook County judge ordered Mayor Rahm to release the video of police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald. 

The ensuing outcry helped launch Kim Foxx’s successful campaign against incumbent State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez in the Democratic primary.

Foxx called for alternative sentencing—a change from the age-old model of cracking down on crime by locking up Black men whether they’d committed a crime or not.

For her efforts, Foxx has been public enemy number one to MAGA types ever since. Just recently, Tim Butler, a Republican state rep from Springfield, introduced a bill that would set up the process for voters to recall Foxx. Why would a downstate Republican care about the state’s attorney in Cook County? Because the Republicans have set up Foxx as a punching bag, and now they’re getting ready to start whaling away just in time for November’s elections.

In fact, if there’s any “victim” to Smollett’s hate-crime fantasies, it’s Foxx. Apparently, she was taken in by the celebrities and political big shots who called her on Smollett’s behalf in the early days of the investigation. In any event, she threw common sense out of the window when she agreed to drop charges against Smollett without compelling him to confess to his lies.

Thus, we had the absurdity of watching Smollett claim the dropped charges proved his innocence.

It was Smollett’s arrogance in professing his victimhood, as much as anything else, that turned what had been an amusing diversion into a crime of the century.

Corporate lawyer Dan Webb got appointed as a special prosecutor to reexamine the case. Charges were filed against Smollett. A jury found him guilty. And last Thursday, Judge Linn dropped his hammer.

Look, I realize faking a hate crime is a serious offense. But who got hurt—other than, as I already said, Kim Foxx and the Democratic Party?

Taxpayers won’t even be out any money because Linn ordered Smollett to pay $130,000 for the police costs of investigating his “hate crime.” So, really, what’s to be served by throwing him into jail for 150 days? Other than spending even more taxpayer money to incarcerate him.

But it’s a get-tough-on-crime era in America, and so the horse’s ass gets locked up.

Certainly, Smollett’s sentence is a contrast to the one meted out nine years ago to Richard Vanecko for manslaughter.

Vanecko is the nephew of one mayor (Richard M. Daley) and the grandson of another (Richard J. Daley) who was sentenced to 60 days in jail after pleading guilty to killing David Koschman in a fight in 2004.

It took years of Sun-Times articles by Tim Novak, Carol Marin, and other reporters about  allegations of police cover-ups before Webb was appointed to investigate the matter.

During the years before and after the Sun-Times investigations, I don’t recall great outcries for justice for Koschman from Republicans or Mayor Rahm—a close Daley ally. They were all too busy sucking up to the Daleys.

Now the Vanecko case is a classic Chicago “heater”—as investigating officers felt the heat that comes from knowing the Boss is watching.

Coincidentally, another mayoral nephew/grandson will be coming before a judge for sentencing: former Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson, who was recently convicted on federal bank fraud charges.

Granted it will be a different judge in a different courtroom. But will Daley Thompson draw more time than Smollett? We shall see.

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