The Juice This Time

05/25/2011 12:15 pm ET
  • John Ridley Emmy-Winning Commentator and Writer for Esquire

There are probably a thousand snarky remarks to be made about OJ Simpson's civilian "sting" operation that went south over in Vegas. Clearly instead of engaging in memorabilia retrieval he should have stuck with his post-acquittal vow of finding his wife's "real killers." Apparently a hot lead at the Playboy Club is what took Simpson to Vegas this time. Or, maybe his jaunt to the Palms was just a cover for his sting operation. Who knows how clandestine minds work.

Simpson's latest legal troubles of course got me thinking about the trial, which here in LA has yet to be supplanted as "The Trial," despite the best efforts of Robert Blake and Phil Spector.

The thing I recall most about Simpson's acquittal -- most besides the forewoman mangling his name (c'mon, your one moment in the sun and you blow your lines!) -- were those shots of the Howard University law students going nuts over the verdict. Screaming. Cheering.

What I always appreciated about the whole OJ affair is that it proved to all doubters that, yeah, the American legal system is screwed top to bottom. But I never understood cheering for OJ. Two people were dead and a guy who was guilty got a walk.

In 2005, on the tenth anniversary of the Simpson trial, PBS's Frontline aired a doc about the verdict. They interviewed a couple of OJ apologists who handed out some twisted Blackology about the "delicious irony of the victory," and how the Simpson case became "the carrier of our dreams."

If you subscribe to that theory, this then is the obelisk that marks the beginning of the post-civil rights era: OJ -- "I got it over on the system" -- Simpson. I'm sorry, but what's so ironic about the rich and famous catching a break? How did the fact that OJ's wealth and fame helped buy a Get Out of Jail Free card carry the dreams of the rest of the race? OJ getting over didn't do a thing for the indigent vics of hurricane Katrina.

OJ Simpson never was the "carrier of our dreams." Not mine. What he is, is nothing more than an arrogant wife beater who graduated to murder before devolving into a petty crook. And anyone who tries to find more meaning in him isn't uplifting the race, just debasing it.

Does anyone now care to cheer for that?