For all the words spoken at the sentencing of convicted felon, O.J. Simpson, I find most interesting what wasn't said.
The courtroom was rapt as District Court Judge Jackie Glass ran through a long list of the nearly dozen robbery and kidnapping based felonies Simpson was charged with and his punishment for each charge. It totaled up to 33 years in prison for the former football and movie star. Simpson won't be eligible for parole until he serves at least 9 years.
But no one in court said that it is highly unlikely he'll get parole his first time out, hardly anyone does. So, it is very likely 61 year-old Orenthal James Simpson will stay in prison well after he turns 70 years old. The sentence passed by Judge Glass that day in Las Vegas could turn out to amount to life in prison for O.J. Simpson. No one mentioned he could very well die behind bars.
Also not mentioned in court the other day was that ever since O.J.'s acquittal on double murder charges 13 years ago he has resided in a certain type of prison anyway. A Los Angeles jury may have absolved him of the brutal slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend Ron Goldman but the bigger jury - the one that resides in the court of public opinion - did not.
At every country club and golf tournament, at every fancy dinner and social event he has attended some one was whispering, "Murderer!" or, "He got away with murder!" He has been roundly shunned and sneered at all these years. No telling how his children with Nicole regarded him after their mother was gone but we do know neither daughter, Sidney, nor son, Justin, was in court as their father heard his fate.
And in the Las Vegas courtroom there was no mention of race, no black vs. white, cops vs. the man of color. That card was played over and over again during the 1995 murder trial. Back then many black community leaders and scholars were vocal in insisting that "the system" railroaded men like O.J. Simpson, they expressed doubt that he would get a fair trial. They rarely mentioned the issue of his true innocence or guilt.
This time around they didn't get involved at all. There were no black clergymen like Jesse Jackson in attendance to speak out about the injustice of it all, no threat of massive demonstrations or riots should Simpson be found guilty. And, this time there were no courthouse pronouncements about "the system" that exonerated O.J. in 1995.
I say with no sympathy at all for Mr. Simpson that this time around few people were really passionate about his plight. He'd had too many plights over the last 13 years. Even his most ardent supporters grew weary of his self-made problems with the law: a 911 domestic abuse call to police from his daughter, Sidney; another 911 domestic abuse call for help from his long time girlfriend; a road rage incident in which O.J. was blamed for roughing up another driver; the theft of services charge filed by a cable company after Simpson was found to be stealing TV signals. Then there was that awful book he put his name to in which he very nearly confessed to the double homicide.
The list of disgusting antics became too long and when his adoring friends and fans fell away the former Hall of Fame star took up with a group of hangers-on and thugs. He surrounded himself with goons with guns like those who followed him into that Las Vegas hotel room demanding memorabilia dealers turn over their wares.
Did the not guilty murder verdict make Simpson arrogant enough to think he was untouchable, that he had a free pass for the rest of his life? Did he think the public bought his post verdict declaration that he would dedicate himself to "finding the real killer?" Or did he see the disdain in people's eyes?
"Every where I go folks ask me for my autograph. It happens all the time," I heard him say on TV a few years ago. But there was sadness in his eyes as he spoke, as if attention from strangers was all he had left in life.
Simpson didn't mention the autograph seekers the other day as he stood before Judge Glass and begged with red-rimmed eyes for mercy, explaining it all away as "being stupid, not criminal." He looked profoundly sad and tired and gray.
I wonder what he says to himself at night in his cell? Does he still cling to the notion that "the system" did him in? Or is he thinking about karma and how it nearly always comes back to bite you.