It’s all that O.J. has left

The story is simply too bizarre. Acquitted of Nicole Brown’s murder, but later found liable for still-uncollected civil damages, O.J. Simpson has confessed, sort of.

I don’t even want to get in to whether or not he actually did it. According to the BBC, “Judith Regan, publisher of ReganBooks, owned by Mr [Rupert] Murdoch’s News Corp, had said she considered the book [If I Did It] Mr Simpson’s confession.”

Murdoch’s media companies were to publish the book and air a television program by the same name, inspiring Debra J. Dickerson to offer this advice in Salon to O.J.: “Better late than never. O.J. — take a powder. Like anthrax. Spare your kids, spare the victims’ families, spare the planet, and embrace the only remaining act of decency left to a human hemorrhoid like you. Leave. Given the living hell that must be your life — and though this is a minor, minor benny — spare yourself the agony of facing that monster in the mirror every day. For once, be a man. Drive into a tree. OD on the suitcase full of psych meds you must be taking. Slit your bloodstained wrists. Drink hemlock. Gouge your eyes out with your Heisman or choke down a “Naked Gun” DVD. Just do the species a favor and go claim that seat Udai and Qusay are saving for you.”

I also don’t want to get into how, according to the BBC, the criminal trial outcome “divided US opinion along racial lines, with most white people feeling that justice had not been done.” African-Americans, I imagine, might remember all too well the lynchings that all too often and all too recently resulted from any relationships between black men and white women, but rarely if ever from relationships between white men and black women.

Dickerson asks, “How did a no-brainer ‘husband kills wife, innocent bystander’ murder become a Rorschach for all of America’s unresolved quandaries of race, gender, socioeconomic status, celebrity and, most of all, justice? Whites blamed blacks for being either too stupid or too primitively tribal to deserve (or understand) jury duty, blacks were so determined to get even with whitey that they demanded and celebrated the acquittal of a vicious double murderer, and the police were so used to framing even the guilty that they don’t even bother to do it well anymore.”

Polls taken following the verdict through 1997 continued to show strong African-American support for O.J., while whites increasingly distrusted the verdict.

And I sure don’t want to get into how this trial attracted much more attention than it deserved, only because of celebrity status, or how O.J. got off because he could afford top-caliber legal help. “If it [the glove] doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” lead O.J. Simpson defense attorney Johnnie Cochran famously pleaded.

Here’s the part where I agree with Dickerson: “Like the painful clarity that comes the morning after a bad, bad night of drinking, one would imagine that America would have long since been too ashamed of its revealing O.J. behavior to have an appetite for more. And yet here we are, and it comes rushing back.”

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