When Allahpundit wrote about the laundry list of felony charges dumped on Jussie Smollett by the grand jury yesterday, he noted that there are still plenty of options on the table for plea deals or other maneuvers that could keep the Empire actor out of prison. More to the point, I think, is the possibility that Smollett might lose the battle in federal court but win the war in the court of public opinion. The seeming duplications showing up in the disorderly conduct charges are making this look like more of a dogpile than any message about not tolerating hate crime hoaxes, and the actor probably knows that will play in his favor at work and among his fans. (NBC News)

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been indicted by a grand jury in Chicago on 16 felony counts after allegedly lying to police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime.

Smollett was charged last month with felony disorderly conduct for the allegedly false report he made with Chicago police on Jan. 29, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. In it he claimed he was assaulted by two masked men who hurled racist and homophobic slurs.

Look, I’m not here to say that Smollett shouldn’t be held accountable and pay the price for such an offensive, damaging stunt if he’s convicted. (He’s still maintaining his innocence as of this weekend.) He’s managed to alienate nearly everyone at this point, aside from a few of his friends and some of the most hard-core social justice warriors who are constructing conspiracy theories as we speak. Most of the more conservative observers are sick of seeing fake hate crimes (of which there are many), while liberal activists note the potential damage to victims of actual biased violence (of which there are far too many) when they go to report the crimes. (See note on “hate crimes” at the bottom of this article.)

With that said, having the prosecutors pile this many federal charges on Smollett over the incident will likely play right into his hands. Those sixteen charges are broken down into what appear to be eight individual statements made to two different law enforcement agents investigating the incident. In reality, it was the same allegedly BS story being told twice in official complaints. What originally looked to be either a misdemeanor offense of disorderly conduct under Illinois law or, at most, a felony of the lowest level, could now add up to serious jail time.

Even if you think that’s a justifiable outcome, it only feeds grist to the social justice mill. What will be said of Smollet – rightly or wrongly – is that anyone who was white, straight, “cisgender” or female would have gotten a much lighter charge. And when it comes to falsely reporting crimes, there are plenty of cases to draw upon. What about Mattress Girl or “Jackie” from the Rolling Stone, Rape on Campus debacle? They were both accusing men of crimes equally as heinous as what Smollett claimed, if not more so. Has either of them faced so much as a day in court?

You can see how this might play out in the actor’s favor whether he winds up spending any time behind bars or not. Smollett’s attorney is already calling the list of indictments “vindictive.” Having watched a number of these passion plays being aired out in the court of public opinion, it’s fairly easy to see where this train heads next. The liberals who were forced to abandon Smollett once the truth appeared to come out will now be able to say, “well, yeah. What he did was bad. But the overboard persecution of a young gay man of color that followed overshadowed the original sin.” And just like that, he’s got his job back on the Empire cast.

I can’t wait for the Netflix original documentary on The Framing and Redemption of Jussie Smollett.

SIDE NOTE: (Jazz) While I’ve covered this subject countless times here over the years, it bears pointing out again. I do not believe in so-called “hate crimes” and still believe all of them should be stricken from the books. They are thought crimes, bringing extra punishment and allocation of law enforcement resources for actions that are already illegal based on nothing more than the perpetrator’s beliefs or speech, which remain protected even if they are generally despised in our society. But for the purposes of this article, it would quickly become unwieldy to try to discuss the current situation without the “hate crime” label, so I used it here.