By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Let's be real. If Bubba Wallace purposely planned and committed a hate crime hoax, he's awful at it.
Based on the tidiness of the FBI investigation into the report of a "noose" in Wallace's garage - which determined that it was actually a garage pull-down rope that had been there for months - the only conclusion for a truther is to say Wallace assembled the absolute worst hoax team in human history.
Wallace said in an interview with CNN's Don Lemon that he never saw the rope in question and heard about it through a phone call with NASCAR president Steve Phelps, who also stuck up for him in an interview with FOX. He also maintains that, even if the rope was placed in the garage last October, it was still fashioned like a noose and not a regular garage pull-down. He says even the FBI acknowledged that. So perhaps there's still information to uncover about the rope itself. But it's conclusive that this wasn't done directly against Wallace within the past week.
Look, any decent human would stand in solidarity with Wallace if and when he fell victim to a real hate crime. And if it's found that someone fashioned a garage pull-down into noose as some sort of racist gesture, it would speak to an even bigger problem in the sport that goes beyond one incident. But if you're going to make grand statements on social media ... maybe make sure an actual hate crime was committed against you first? Logic dictates that Wallace didn't plan a hoax, but he did himself no favors with his doubters by grandstanding. He just didn't. Good luck convincing them you didn't just waste FBI resources for attention.
That being said, Wallace is ready to prove the hoax accusers wrong. Racists or not, they're questioning his character so he is rightfully standing up to it.
"None of the allegations of being a hoax will break me or tear me down," Wallace said. "Will it piss me off? Absolutely, but that only fuels the competitive drive in me to shut everybody up, to get back out on the racetrack next week at the [Pocono Raceway], and showcase what I can do behind the wheel under tremendous amounts of B.S. Whatever it is you want to say, you won't break me, you won't tear me down again, I will still stand proud of where I'm at."
Whenever a serious accusation like this comes out, typically one involving hate speech or violent crimes, social media (the media in general, really) tends to experience a flood of sewage. There's the unnecessarily aggressive cries of hoax, the knee-jerk accusations of lying. On the other end you have people like Jemele Hill, who only needed a nebulous allegation to immediately stamp the "racist" label on everyone in all of NASCAR and spew her own conspiracy theories about an "inside job."
Either way, they're jumping to conclusions and making hasty judgments for ... what exactly? Internet points? Sugar-rush rhetoric like this has too much influence these days.
The only lesson from this is nobody learned anything. We've long run out of room to wait for information, for ongoing investigations to conclude. Any attempt at healthy, objective skepticism simply sends you hurtling toward either end of the spectrum, depending on the species of zombie rubber-stamping you. We absolutely have to get our extremist takes out there and fire back at the dissidents, even as the facts are limited and the whole truth has not yet been discovered. What else are we going to do? Read a book?
And even if NASCAR uncovers an employee who is an actual white supremacist, it won't matter if they don't. They've received their labels from the impatient masses. So has Wallace. the ink is permanent.
But, as with most situations in life, two conflicting ideas can still be true. The "noose" wasn't a hate crime, and it wasn't a deliberate hoax, either. But both trenches have gleefully nuked each other over this, over what seems like a big misunderstanding more than anything.
The best part is no one changed their minds about NASCAR or hate crime hoaxes through all of this. Just had a nice royal rumble in the slop for a few days. Until the next accusation of literally any form of misconduct comes out.
What a world we've created for ourselves.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].