A healthy dose of skepticism would have been good here.

In a new book, Wilfred Reilly, a young black professor at historically black Kentucky State University, reveals that over two-thirds of hate crimes, scenarios like the Jussie Smollet case, are actually hoaxes. Wall Street Journal editorial writer Jason Riley highlighted several hate crime hoaxes against members of the LGBTQ and black communities as well as hoaxes against white, heterosexuals. The point being that hate crime hoaxes are not limited to folks like Smollet – they can be perpetrated by anyone.

“In 2012 a popular gay bar in suburban Chicago was destroyed by fire, and the owner cited homophobia as the reason. The same year, black students at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside reported death threats from hate groups and found a noose hanging from a dorm room door. Ultimately, the owner of the bar pleaded guilty to arson and insurance fraud. And a black student at the university fessed up to sending racist threats and planting a noose….

“A gay pastor in Texas accused a Whole Foods store of selling him a cake with a slur written in icing. The store produced video evidence that the pastor was lying. A white woman in Oregon disfigured her own face with acid and claimed a black man had attacked her.”

In fact, Reilly identified how widespread the problem is:

“‘This phenomenon of fake hate crimes did not appear to be small-scale or regionally based…. With absolute confidence is that the actual number of hate crime hoaxes is indisputably large. We are not speaking here of just a few bad apples.”

Riley also identified the causes of the problem.

“But Mr. Reilly has a larger point to make. The Smollett case isn’t an outlier. Increasingly, it’s the norm. And the media’s relative lack of interest in exposing hoaxes that don’t involve famous figures is a big part of the problem.”

Perhaps it’s time to view hate crimes with a healthy dose of skepticism until all the facts are known. Anything less betrays the pain of true victims who deserve sympathy.