Yet Again, What the Actual F*ck Is Going On Here? 16 Questions Re: Jussie Smollett

After all 16 charges against Jussie Smollett have been dropped, we’re only left with more questions.

Previously…What the Actual F*ck Is Going On Here?

1. What in Gay Hell Is Going on Here?

Well, Jussie Smollett was originally indicted by a grand jury on 16 charges of felony disorderly conduct related to an attack on January 29 in Chicago. Smollett claimed he was attacked by Trump supporters who tied a noose around his neck, doused him with bleach, and yelled racist and homophobic slurs in addition to references to “MAGA country.”

Smollett denied he played any role in orchestrating his own attack, which polarized the nation as more and more information came out in the proceeding weeks, placing the attack in a dubious light. In late February, Chicago Police Department superintendent Eddie Johnson denounced the attack as a “publicity stunt.”

However, following Smollett’s appearance in an emergency meeting in court Tuesday morning, the Cook County State Attorney’s Office decided to drop all 16 charges against Smollet, issuing the rather brief statement:

“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case.”

Smollett forfeit the $10,000 he had paid to post bail and performed two days of community service.

2. So Why Were the Charges Dropped?

Apparently no one knows, and we may never know. Judge Steven Watkins ordered the public court file sealed, for reasons no one seems clear on or is forthcoming with, including Smollett’s attorney Patricia Brown Holmes.

“I have no idea what occurred in this case and why it occurred,” Holmes said. “I can just say things seemed to spiral somewhat out of control. We’ve gotten to a result that is the right result in this case and we’re happy for that.”

According to First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats, Smollett made a deal—something his lawyers initially denied—with the attorney’s office in recent weeks to drop the charges if the 36-year-old actor performed community service and forfeited his bond.

3. Does That Mean Smollett Didn’t Fake His Own Attack?

Unclear. As noted before, evidence from the case has been sealed. All we do know is that the City of Chicago seems satisfied with the outcome of the case and Smollett’s record has been “wiped clean.”

4. So Is He Completely Innocent in All This?

Doubt it. Magats, who took charge of the case after State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the case, says the dropping of the charges “didn’t exonerate him.”

And as CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi noted, “innocent individuals don’t forget bond [and] perform community service in exchange for dropped charges.”

5. If He Wasn’t Exonerated, Did He Collude with His Attackers?

Holmes thinks the two brothers who had previously admitted to being hired by the actor for the attack are the true perpetrators.

“The two men who attacked him have indicated that they attacked him, so we already know who attacked him, those brothers,” Holmes said. “We don’t want to try them in the press any more than [Smollett] wanted to be tried in the press.”

She’s leaving their trial up to prosecutors.

6. If He Wasn’t Exonerated, Did Jussie Smollett Collude with Russia?

Honestly, at this point, anything’s possible.

7. So Is the CPD Going to Try and Solve This Alleged Hate Crime?

It seems, for now, that the case is closed.

8. So Is This Still an “Alleged” Hate Crime?

Oh yeah. Nothing is clear here.

9. How Does the Chicago PD Feel About These Developments?

Um…they’re pissed. Superintendent Johnson and the CPD are doubling down on the whole “publicity stunt” angle.

“Do I think justice was served? No,” Johnson said. “What do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology.”

Johnson went on to question Smollett’s veracity: “I’ve heard that they wanted their day in court with TV cameras so America could know the truth. And now they chose to hide behind secrecy and broker a deal to circumvent the judicial system.”

10. And Mayor Rahm Emanuel?

Equally pissed. Emanuel dragged Smollett in a press conference after the ruling, calling it—using an interesting choice of words—a “whitewash of justice,” intimating that Smollett’s celebrity played a part in getting him off scot-free.

“From top to bottom, this is not on the level,” Emanuel said. ““Where is the accountability in the system? You cannot have, because of a person’s position, one set of rules apply to them and one set of rules apply to everybody else.”

Both he and Johnson referred to Smollett’s attack as a “hoax.”

“Is there no decency in this man?” the mayor continued. “A grand jury saw the evidence [and] realized this was a hoax—a hoax on the city, a hoax on hate crimes, a hoax on people of good values who actually were empathetic at first.”

“And he used that empathy for only one reason…,” Emanuel concluded, “himself,”

“At the end of the day, it’s Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax, period,” Johnson said. “If he wanted to clear his name, the way to do that was in a court of law so that everybody could see the evidence.”

11. But What Was Chicago PD’s Role in All of This to Begin With?

Holmes, Smollett’s attorney, accused the CPD of “trying the case in the press,” further urging them not to “jump ahead and utilize the press to convict people before they are tried in a court of law.”

And as Ava DuVernay, and many others, have pointed out, the Chicago PD doesn’t have the greatest record when it comes to transparency and accountability.

There’s even a pretty extensive Wikipedia entry about CPD controversies and brutality. It kinda reminds me how the LAPD was so racist and inept that a jury couldn’t convict OJ Simpson regardless of his culpability. But that comparison is a Pandora’s box just waiting to be opened.

Bottom line: The Chicago PD dedicated a lot of time and resources to this case, but they also weren’t blameless in their handling of the case with Smollett’s attorneys claiming they disseminated misinformation to the public and rushed to judgment.

12. What Does Jussie Smollett Have to Say for Himself?

Well, Smollett maintains his innocence and insists that he is the victim here—despite Mayor Emanuel’s thoughts to the contrary.

“I’ve been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” Smollett said, addressing reporters Tuesday morning. “This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life, but I am a man of faith and I’m a man that has knowledge of my history, and I would not bring my family, our lives or the movement through a fire like this.”

In a statement, the actor’s lawyers said he “is very much looking forward to getting back to focusing on his family, friends and career.”

13. What Career?

Smollet was cut from the rest of Empire’s episodes this season, but the show’s home network, Fox, is “gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed,” as spokesperson Chris Alexander said in a statement.

14. Are We All Being Gaslit or Is This Just What Life Is?

After the Mueller investigation and the cascade of pro-Trump news this week—btw, it’s Tuesday—facts just don’t seem to matter anymore. Trump clearly benefited from Russian interference in the 2016 election, and members of his administration knew about it. But there’s no collusion, no exoneration. Smollett’s hate crime story clearly has a few holes in it and the CPD isn’t wholly trustworthy. But there’s no collusion, no exoneration. Facts have been canceled, reality is whatever you believe it to be, and nothing makes sense anymore. Welcome to 2019.

15. So Where Do We Go from Here?

I dunno, bed? The news cycle is exhausting, but if anything, regardless of the tremendous and tremendously confusing fuckery of this case, we should still believe victims of assault and encourage them to come forward with their stories, lest this one scenario ruin everything.

16. Is Our Long National Nightmare Finally Over?

That tracks.

Lester Fabian Brathwaite is an LA-based writer, editor, bon vivant, and all-around sassbag. He's formerly Senior Editor of Out Magazine and is currently hungry. Insta: @lefabrat