If we are the nation that we claim to be, O.J. Simpson will be getting out of prison this fall. The only way that O.J. will stay behind bars will be that we are not actually a nation of laws as we claim to be, but we are just a nation of men- just a well organized and disguised lynch mob of vigilantes that acts purely on whims and emotions rather than on codes and principles. The reports that have been made public are crystal clear: O.J. has been a model prisoner for almost a decade.
The scoring system on record that the Nevada Board of Parole uses to determine who gets parole is stacked heavily in his favor. If the parole board pulls an okey-doke and comes up with some reason to keep him locked up beyond this October then something frightening is going on and it says more about what is wrong with our criminal justice system than anything that happened in the first criminal trial starring O.J., The Dream Team and The Keystone Cops of the L.A.P.D.
O.J. is a figure like Judas in the bible. In order for Jesus’ story to be what it was, didn’t SOMEBODY have to be the one to betray him? It sucked to be Judas but in an odd way, he was the critical and pivotal player in the greatest story ever told- and he wound up dead by his own hand, swinging from a rope with the prize coins paid for his betrayal of Christ strewn on the ground beneath his feet.
America never had to face down its own troubling character of wealth worship until wealth worship freed O.J. Simpson for a murder that so much of America is firmly and unshakably convinced that he committed. America never really faced the stubborn legacy of racism amongst truly free citizens until the perception deficit over the O.J. trial shined a white hot spot light on it for all the world to see. That black people and white people could be so diametrically opposed in their view of an objective matter was as troubling as it was illuminating. America was never really confronted with the corrosive nature of celebrity obsession until the O.J. trial. Isn’t it a peculiar footnote in pop-culture history that we probably wouldn’t have the world famous Kardashian clan if it weren’t for the O.J. trial? Frankly, thousands of girls show up on the internet every day with big asses on full display being devoured by hungry, eager negroes but they don’t spark a multi-billion dollar business empire.
Sure Kim Kardashian has a big ass but if she was black and her dad wasn’t a part of O.J.’s Dream Team she just would have been “Kim”- just another girl on a sex tape in an ocean of sex tapes engulfing the world. And it started with the O.J. trial. America may not have dealt effectively with the issues of wealth worship, racial division and celebrity obsession yet but we are certainly aware of them in a specific way now that we never were before and that is a start- courtesy of The Juice. But what are we going to do abut O.J. now? Although he never meant to be, O.J. is still the tip of the spear on discussions of all of these issues but somehow he has to find a way forward and how the country responds to that will define us just as much as it defines him.
Let’s say that the system works as designed and O.J. gets to make plans to be with his children and grandchildren for Thanksgiving 2017. What happens then? In a 24 hour news cycle (that he is largely responsible for creating by the way) it is hard to imagine that somehow, someway, every day O.J. will be being discovered and discussed. The fantasy of many folks that O.J. will wind up broke and broken down will simply never come to pass: The pension that he is paid for his incredible football career cannot be touched by any civil actions against him so he’ll be living on about $300K per year as long as he is living.
See folks, O.J. played the years required to max out so he will never be broke like guys who played but didn’t last long enough to get permanently paid. O.J. is vested. Plus his home cannot be touched under Florida law by those holding judgments against him, so Fred Goldman will have to find another way to keep that snappy mustache of his waxed and curled. So the fundamentals of O.J.’s life after prison will still be far superior to most of those pining for the days when a mob with a grudge could just grab a rope, drag a guy out of the jailhouse and string him up.
But what about the rest of the picture? Ok, he’ll live comfortably enough, but what will his daily life be like? Will he be cheered by the clapping seals that so many Americans have become who just reflexively celebrate the sight of a famous face? Or will he be hectored everywhere he goes until he realizes he can’t find a soft spot for himself anywhere? Will so many black Americans who cheered his acquittal in the trial of the century be there for him now that he really has been a victim of the biases of the criminal justice system rather than benefiting from them? It has become fashionable in recent years for famous black people to feign bravery and opine that O.J. is guilty of the murders he was tried for so it is unclear what he’ll run into. At bottom, O.J. is going to bring yet another major issue in American society into the brightest spotlight it has ever seen: we are going to have to really address how we deal with people after they leave prison. After they have done their time and paid their debt to society, do we really give people a chance to re-enter our world? Do these people have a chance to remake themselves and rebuild their lives, or are they permanent outcasts? Courtesy of The Juice we will soon find out.