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October 6, 2008

OJ Simpson: justice and revenge

By Spear's

It is wrong to judge, but I can’t help how I feel.

There is a God, after all, it seems. All those years spent on my knees in pews and confessionals, whispering in the ears of priests, sometimes blushing, sometimes crying, begging for forgiveness, guidance, and what I really really want: happiness and wellbeing for my loved ones, eternity with the man I love. But I never dared pray for anyone’s punishment. That would be unchristian and arrogant, and it would ultimately bring punishment upon me, crushing me for my hubris, for God tells me I am too lowly to judge others in such a way. And yet in my heart, I judged.

So it was with no small measure of glee that I heard the news today that O.J. Simpson has been found guilty on 12 counts pertaining to an armed robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas last year and now faces life in prison. He was found guilty on the 13th anniversary of his acquittal for the murders of his ex-wife (and mother of his two children) Nicole Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

The murder was brutal. The evidence showed Nicole ran away from her assailant, who knocked her down by bludgeoning her on the back of the head, then, as she lay face down, stepped on her back, grabbed her hair and slit her throat with such viciousness she was nearly decapitated – while her children slept upstairs.

The shocking not-guilty verdict came at a painful moment in my own life: I was standing in JFK airport, waiting for my grandfather to land on a stretcher from Caracas to be rehabilitated for his massive stroke. As I awaited his landing, everyone watched the available televisions, silently and breathlessly, for the verdict. The reaction was split along racial lines: blacks jubilant, whites horrified.

This all came back to me as I watched the verdict on this second trial of “The Juice:” far from “letting him flow” as his supporters wanted in the first trial, he now faces life in prison. And I think it’s long overdue. I (not so) secretly hoped he might yet suffer a fate not entirely dissimilar to his ex-wife’s – uncatholic and arrogant of me as that might be.

Yet arrogance is a dangerous thing, for it was this, combined with his avarice, that brought O.J.’s downfall: he thought he was entitled to take back by force what he thought he owned – the memorabilia of his glory days, his ex-wife.

Today’s result is, of course, ironic in the extreme – an ending worthy of my beloved Law & Order, in which I indulge I wholly unhealthy addiction. It was O.J.’s inability to leave well enough alone, to leave the past in the past that drove him to burst into that hotel room with an armed gang of five. Otherwise, there would never have been any prison, no divine justice. If he had been able to let go, he would still be free. Talk about your tragic ending.

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Clearly at least two people saw the tragedy in today’s verdict, for the news footage showed a white couple weeping in the courtroom as it was read out. Who were they? Or were they perchance weeping with joy at having God answer prayers they never dared utter?

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