Kevin Hart sent his best wishes to Jussie Smollett after the Empire star was attacked in a possible hate crime, but some social media users were left outraged by Hart’s message in the wake of his homophobic tweets.
“Sending prayers your way @jussiesmollett ….This is unbelievably sad,” Hart, 39, captioned a photo of Smollett, 36, on Instagram on Tuesday, January 29. “Why are we going backwards….this is disgusting. We as people have to do better. WTF is going on the world???? Why are we falling in love with hate???? God damn it people….Choose love…I repeat…Choose love. I will forever choose love and I will continue to teach my kids how to do the same. Stand strong brother.”
The Upside actor shared the same post on Twitter, where countless users replied with remarks about how the racist and homophobic attack on Smollett is an example of why Hart’s past controversial jokes were widely criticized. Other critics pointed out how Hart once joked in 2011 about abusing his son if he were gay, which was just one of the many since-deleted tweets that recently resurfaced and led to the stand-up comedian’s decision to step down from hosting the upcoming Oscars and apologize to the LGBT community.
“This is why someone’s jokes about beating their gay son were never funny,” TV writer Ira Madison III tweeted. Filmmaker Sam Greisman, who is the son of actress Sally Field, echoed, “But keep joking about beating up your kid for being gay, Kevin Hart!”
Referencing Hart’s post-Oscars scandal interview with Ellen DeGeneres, who begged people to give the Ride Along star a “second chance,” poet Saeed Jones tweeted, “Given what we’ve seen so far, I fully expect the men who attacked Jussie Smollett to score a sit-down interview with Ellen at some point in the next few weeks. Maybe it will be a roundtable discussion with Kevin Hart.”
Other Twitter users shared similar sentiments. “Do you see why the ‘jokes’ weren’t funny now??” one person wrote, while another added, “Keep yo tears n prayers.. This is why yo joke was important and such an issue.”
The Chicago Police Department confirmed to Us earlier on Tuesday that Smollett, who came out as gay in 2015, transported himself to a nearby hospital after two men yelled “racial and homophobic slurs toward him” before battering him, pouring “an unknown chemical substance on him” and wrapping a rope around his neck. He has since been released and is in “good condition,” according to a police spokesman. Detectives are investigating the incident and “treating it as a possible hate crime.”
In the wake of the attack, the actor-singer, who received messages of support from dozens of celebrities including Janet Jackson and John Legend, is still scheduled to perform at the famed Troubadour club in West Hollywood on Saturday, February 2. Paul Kacik from the concert booking company Sean Healy Presents confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that they are “going on with the show as far as we know, until we hear anything different.”
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