We’ve all seen it: something shows up online that gets our blood boiling and riles up our sense of righteous indignation and, in the blink of an eye, we form opinions on the subject. Many of us probe a little deeper into the subject, while others don’t. After we do some research (or have it pointed out to us by others), we may find that our anger is justified. Then again, we may not. Such is the case, I believe, with Moe Adams, a young man with a promising career that has been setback considerably by accusations that he is a racist, a homophobe and a fan of rape. In fact, he is none of these horrible things.
We’ve all seen it: something shows up online that gets our blood boiling and riles up our sense of righteous indignation and, in the blink of an eye, we form opinions on the subject. Many of us probe a little deeper into the subject, while others don’t. After we do some research (or have it pointed out to us by others), we may find that our anger is justified. Then again, we may not. Such is the case, I believe, with Moe Adams, a young man with a promising career that has been setback considerably by accusations that he is a racist, a homophobe and a fan of rape. Editor’s note: Some language in this article may be considered unsafe for work.
There are some who will be offended by this article; understandably so, too. They’re the ones who saw horrible things about this young man, validated by an article on a major news and entertainment site, and formed their opinions. However, I believe it’s time the world heard Moe’s side of the story.
I was approached by Moe’s manager and asked to review the issue in the hope that Moe’s side of the story would finally be told. I’ve looked at the documents, the screenshots of tweets, and Moe’s current Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts. What I found is rather surprising behavior for someone accused of the vile opinions listed above. However, let’s begin by reviewing the issue.
Moe Adams is a 19-year-old, half-Palestinian/half-Syrian performer who found popularity on YouTube. His biggest hit is a video called How to Tell if He’s a Fuckboy. For those not in the know, a fuckboy, according to Urban Dictionary, is: “A manipulating [male] who does whatever it takes to benefit him, regardless of who he screws over. They will screw over anyone and everyone as long they get what they want.” Moe’s video points out a variety of ways to spot such boys and does so in a humorous manner.
When a live-action remake of Aladdin was announced, Moe auditioned for the part. As these things sometimes go, he did not get it. He allegedly tweeted asking his followers to tweet Disney in support of giving him another chance. Allegedly, he called the company out for being Islamophobic. However, Moe’s manager said that Moe’s Twitter had been hacked and that Moe did not send these tweets. Someone then came forward with “receipts” of horrible things Moe allegedly tweeted back in 2014.
According to Moe’s manager, the young man lost his phone in 2014. At that time, whoever had his phone hacked his Twitter account and sent derogatory tweets about people of color, gay people, women, and, of all things, ice cream.
As a good manager would do, Moe’s helped him get his account back and removed the offending tweets. Unfortunately, not before someone (possibly the hacker, though there isn’t enough evidence to prove it) took screenshots of the tweets. These screenshots were saved for almost three years before being put forth as “receipts” supporting the accusation that Moe Adams is a racist.
These “receipts” were given to a major news and entertainment outlet, Black Entertainment Television (BET). The site soon published an article damning Moe for being exactly what he allegedly accused Disney of being: discriminatory. The story was shared with the site’s almost seven million Facebook followers and millions of Twitter followers. BET took the story down days later, at the request of Moe’s manager. Hundreds of smaller news outlets picked up the story, though and it’s still online today.
Now that we’ve covered the issue, let’s examine the evidence.
Being a lawyer (non-practicing), I decided to approach the issue similar to the way one would approach a civil case, albeit in an abbreviated manner. That analysis follows.
Fact one: Moe admits to being a former fuckboy.
Fact two: Moe’s manager is an African American.
Fact three: Moe’s producer with Sony Records (Bruce Automatic, CEO of Inrage Entertainment) is also an African American.
Fact four: Moe appeared in a YouTube video by Tré Melvin, an openly gay, African-American comedian and Moe’s best friend.
Fact five: I have spent days combing through Moe’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. I’ve read thousands of comments on his posts, as well as the posts themselves. Not once did anything racist, homophobic or misogynistic/pro-rape written by Moe appear.
Point one (former fuckboy): The logical conclusion would be that, in those days, his behavior toward women was less than perfect. However, he was also 16-17 years old at the time. Not very many of us were all that mature at that age. None of the online content I was able to find indicates that Moe still behaves as a fuckboy.
Points two & three (African-American business representatives): Merriam-Webster defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”
Let’s look at that, shall we? If one is racist and believes that a certain group, in this case, African Americans, is inferior to oneself, why would that person choose to sign with two African-American business representatives? Logic dictates that one would not do so.
The logical conclusion in such a case is that the belief that African Americans are inferior would lead to the assumption that African-American business representatives wouldn’t be able to do as much for one’s career as non-African-American representatives. Wouldn’t a young man who is serious about making it in the entertainment industry choose someone else to represent him if he was a racist? He would want the best chance possible at succeeding, so he would naturally pick those he felt would be the most help to his career.
Point four (Tré Melvin’s video): Before I even begin to address this one, go watch the video. As you’re watching it, particularly the opening scene (seven seconds into the five minute video), keep in mind everything you know about racists and homophobes.
Now that you’ve watched it, let me ask you this question: would anyone who hated African Americans and gay people play such a role? For those of you who didn’t watch the video (please do!), the scene in question features Tré Melvin dressed in drag sitting on a bed, legs spread, while a shirtless Moe performs mock cunnilingus on Tré’s character.
Time for some personal truth: I grew up in a very small, very white town. There was one African-American student at my elementary school in the fifth grade and his family didn’t stay in town the whole school year. I’ve heard racist comments, witnessed racist behavior, and grew up in a town with several racists. No racist I have ever seen would even consider appearing, much less actually appear in such a video!
More personal truth: As my readers know, I am an openly gay man. Growing up in that small town, I was personally the target of a great deal of homophobia. Those who discriminated against me wouldn’t even shake my hand or talk to me (other than to call me derogatory names), let alone pretend to have sex with me on video.
Point five (Moe’s social media): I’ve spent days combing through hundreds of posts and thousands of comments on Moe’s social media accounts. All I found were posts about Moe’s life in general, along with several that supported gay people, people of color and women. Some screenshots are below. Consider them my “receipts,” if you will.
I see evidence of a young man who:
- Praises Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work;
- Stands up to bullies who body shame women;
- Challenge men to step up and treat women with respect;
- Speaks out in support of gay people and our rights as human beings.
As with any analysis modeled after a legal proceeding, there is a counter-argument; a time to challenge the evidence presented. Here we go.
My responsibility to this blog, and my own integrity, demands that I play “devil’s advocate.” After all, it would be irresponsible to present a story without checking facts and asking hard questions. Two such questions immediately presented themselves.
Question one: So, who’s to say that these derogatory tweets weren’t real? The Twitter account from which these tweets came has been deleted. Moe’s current account goes back only to January, 2016.
Question two: What if the allegations are true and Moe’s current social media accounts are merely a means of salvaging his image?
Answer one: Moe’s current social media accounts show a young man with a great deal of respect for others. The worst thing I’ve seen him post is in comments to those who attack him for, of all things, being gay. Moe is not gay. Yet, many detractors call him “fag” and question his sexuality due to his appearance. His responses to these people range from ignoring them to things like, “Get a life,” “Some people don’t have a life,” and “I love getting such positive comments on Instagram.”
As I pointed out earlier, the tweets in question are roughly three years old. Even if they were real and not hacked, it is entirely possible that Moe simply grew up, or, as his fans put it, became “woke.” It happens. Remember that small town in which I grew up? By the time I graduated high school, there were several students of color there and they were treated with respect and dignity. People can and do change.
Answer two: If the current social media accounts are simply “damage control,” they are part of a grand – and not too easy to pull off – plan. The answer here is, simply, no one knows but the parties involved: Moe, his manager, and the alleged hacker. This is an important item to note.
What does all of this ultimately mean? I’m going to temporarily promote myself to a judgeship and explain.
If this issue were a civil case, we would look at all the evidence presented and make a decision based on whether that evidence satisfies the standard of proof. In civil cases, that is the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard. Nolo offers the following definition:
“The preponderance-of-the-evidence standard is the default for most civil lawsuits. In these cases a plaintiff is typically suing a defendant for lost money because of acts like breaking a contract or causing a car accident (the money loss might be due to vehicle damage and medical bills, for example). Preponderance of the evidence is met if the trier of fact (judge or jury) believes the evidence shows the defendant is more likely than not—more than 50% likely to be—responsible.”
As it applies to this analysis, the question of Moe’s alleged racism, homophobia and misogyny can be answered by examining the evidence. If the evidence shows that it is less than 50% likely that he is racist, then Moe’s detractors have failed to meet the standard and he is not the evil things he’s been accused of being.
Does the evidence I’ve found meet the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard? No. I do not believe it does and here’s why:
- We have a few screenshots of derogatory posts allegedly made by Moe (I will not reprint them);
- We have claims from Moe and his manager that the posts in question originated from a hacked account;
- We see that Moe’s original Twitter account from 2014 has been deleted;
- We see current social media that shows Moe as a young man who supports women, gay people and people of color;
- We see Moe performing in a YouTube video with Tré Melvin, a member of two of the groups the Moe allegedly hates. The video shows the two men engaging in a mock sexual activity.
What we do not see is:
- Evidence of racism, homophobia and misogyny in any of Moe’s social media;
- Proof that the 2014 tweets originated with Moe and were not sent from a hacked account.
In a typical civil case, the party bringing the accusations has the burden of proof. This means they are responsible for producing evidence that supports their claim. The one against whom the accusations are made is presumed to be in the right.
As that applies to Moe Adams, those accusing him of being racist are responsible for producing evidence that shows the social media posts were actually made by Moe and not a hacker. Until such time, Moe is presumed not to be racist. Here, his detractors have failed to produce evidence that proves – by the preponderance standard – that Moe published those posts.
Therefore, based on the evidence presented and the detractors’ inability to meet the burden of proof, I can come to only one logical conclusion:
Moe Adams is NOT a racist. Neither is he a homophobe, a misogynist, or a fan of rape.
Moe Adams is the victim of a gross misunderstanding, in my opinion.
What’s happening with Moe?
According to his manager, Moe has “received so many threats to his life that he was scared to leave his house.” He was also physically pushed in public by a young African-American man who based his opinion of Moe on the BET article. He reported this encounter to the police; however, he was told that nothing could be done unless a major crime occurred or threats were terroristic in nature and made via social media such that authorities could verify IP addresses, etc.
BET pulled the original piece, but refused to print a retraction or issue an apology. They did offer to allow Moe to tell his side of the story as part of an updated version of the original article. Moe and his manager declined, due to concerns that republication of the original piece would further endanger Moe.
Moe continues to suffer backlash from this issue. His online fan base, initially supportive, has started to shrink. “After all,” Moe’s manager said, “why would BET lie?” In most people’s eyes, the tradition of good reporting that BET has only adds validity to the claims.
We in the media have a responsibility to make sure what we publish is true to the best of our ability. I won’t comment on the amount of work BET did or did not put into their piece on Moe; only they know how much work they did. I will say that, in the absence of hard evidence, they did have a responsibility to publish a retraction.
The court of public opinion is far swifter and more brutal in its brand of “justice” than any actual court. There are people who will read this article and still believe horrible things about Moe. It is my hope that the majority of people who read this will see Moe as I see him: a respectful young man trying to put his life back together after an unfortunate and deeply unpleasant experience.
Moe has filed a lawsuit against BET for the damage to his reputation and his personal wellbeing. The initial hearing is set for July 14 in the Superior Court of Washington, D.C. Legal Reader will publish updates as they are available.
In a statement from his manager, Moe said he would like to encourage people to be courageous even in the midst of adversity and to always put password locks and strict email and social media two-step verifications on their accounts. All it takes is a few seconds of carelessness and your career could be over in minutes.
I wish Moe Adams well. And, I’ll say it one more time:
Moe Adams is NOT a racist, a homophobe, a misogynist or a fan of rape.