Posted on Monday, December 8th, 2008 at 3:16 pm
Author: Feature Writer
Gc contributor: Renee Martin
Yesterday was the culmination of the fall from grace for “The Juice.” The once beloved football star, and darling of advertising companies, was informed he would be a guest in the Nevada Penal system for a minimum of nine, to a maximum of thirty-three years by Judge Glass.
In his statement he attempted to explain his participation in the armed kidnapping, “I did not know that I was doing anything illegal. I thought that I was confronting friends and retrieving my property. So I am sorry. I am sorry for all of it,” Simpson said.
Though Judge Glass made it very clear that she was sentencing him for this crime, and not the deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman; however one could not help but be cognizant of the fact that his conviction in this instance occurred exactly 13 years to the day of his acquittal in their deaths.
The Goldman family has been relentless in their pursuit for justice despite the not guilty verdict. They clearly saw the December 5th sentencing as divine retribution even though it did not find Simpson culpable for the death of Ronald Goldman.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet moment knowing that that S.O.B. is going to be in jail for a very long time,” said Fred Goldman, the father of Ron Goldman.
“He’ll never change, and he’s going to stay in jail for a very long time,” he said, before adding: “There is never closure. Ron is always gone.”
Clearly, even though he was pronounced not guilty of the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, many people still feel that he got away with murder. There is a sense of relief for many that OJ will be spending many years behind bars.
This raises the issue of whether or not this notorious ex football star received a fair trial. It is supposed to be a trial by a jury of his peers, and yet except for two alternate jurors, the jury was comprised entirely of white people. This is problematic, as in the original trial for the murder of his ex wife and Ronald Goldman, there was a huge divide between whites and the African American community regarding his guilt or innocence.
Some in the African American community supported him even though they felt he was guilty, in the name of black men who have been wrongfully convicted, or stopped for driving while black, or murdered by the state with the use of the racist death penalty. The alleged planting of the bloody glove by the racist police officer Mark Furman, only served to cement in the minds of many in the African American community the connection between racial inequality and the justice system.
Without doubt, Simpson is a wife beater and a violent man. What complicates the situation is that he was convicted of beating a white woman. Though we claim to have moved past race, a relationship between a black man and a white woman is always complicated. Assaulting a woman in any way is always wrong regardless of the racial factors at play; however for some the fact that it was a white woman that was assaulted and subsequently murdered was enough to add an extra layer of contempt for OJ.
In the years since the “trial of the century”, he has become a social pariah. Even though OJ had received the support of the black community throughout the trial, many were very cognizant of the fact that he had turned his back on his black identity, until he was in a time of need. Many felt that he had put himself in this situation by choosing to associate so closely with the white man’s pride – the white woman.
Old and defeated, very few weep today for the man that was once the darling of the NFL. As I write this I find myself to be so conflicted. No one except for OJ, Ron and Nicole truly know what happened that night. All that we know for certain is that he has a history of violence.
Yes he was found guilty of a crime in this instance; but can we really be certain that this was not a predetermined result due to his personal notoriety? Would the prosecution have followed the letter of the law this closely in the crimes that he was charged and convicted of, had there not been the social idea that OJ was a criminal that was walking free? Why was the jury all white? What degree did his race play in the maintenance of the social acrimony that he daily lived with?
It is these ambiguities that cause me to ponder if OJ ever really faced true justice in any of the criminal proceedings that he has been involved in. As we review OJ’s interaction with the law, what becomes clear is that race, class and gender continually interacted to affect each meeting he had with lady justice.
Without the rule of law we would have anarchy. Every civilized society has had some sort of penal system in which those that offend are forced to pay for the crimes that they have committed. As an advanced state, we function with the idea that the justice system is above the isms that interact in the larger social world; however a quick review of the penal system reveals that it is simply a small microcosm of the issues that continue to create imbalance.
OJ’s history reveals the complexities that we are loathe to deal with. Race, class and gender intersect in such visible ways that the truth is obscured. Instead of seeing this as yet another sign that we must begin to work on the issues that divide us, because of the real world consequences, people will revert to their respective corners to celebrate, or mourn depending on how they understand the underlying complexities.
I am no closer to determining today where I stand on his guilt or innocence in this case, or in the deaths of his ex wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The only conclusion that I am able to draw is that there is much we have not considered in our desire to make him pay for a crime that he was found not guilty of. The Goldman’s and the Brown’s may feel somewhat satisfied today, but can we really know for certain that justice was served?
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