© 1995 by Laurie D. T. Mann

It's late afternoon on Tuesday, October 3 [1995] and I'm angry.

In response to my anger, I won't go out and get a gun. I won't bomb a building. I won't hack my parents or husband or child to death. I'll just write, talk and keep writing and talking until this passes.

The OJ Simpson case sadly illustrates that we still have a very long way to go with race relations in this country. It shows that our judicial system is very flawed, especially when "limitless" amounts of money are involved. It shows that a woman's life means nothing compared to a rich celebrity's life. It shows that a man can be in the wrong place at the wrong time and murdered and no one will be punished for it.

If I could talk to a juror, any juror, I'd just ask:

Why is this gross miscarriage of justice the right thing to do?

I'm frankly, stunned that no one held out. Not one juror said "This is wrong." If I'd been there, I'd have held out against this travesty. Were the jurors selected only for their gulibility?

I've been thinking quite a lot about race relations vis a vis this trial, and Marian Wright Edelman's 25 Lessons for Life keeps coming to mind. She says, "Remember and help America remember that the fellowship of human beings is more important than the fellowship of race and class and gender in a democratic society." Being concerned for justice ought to be more important than what your neighbors might say for helping to punish a murderer who happened to be a celebrity.

It's true that racism has reared its ugly head in this case. But it cuts both ways. Finding OJ innocent of two murders that he committed is as racist an act as anything Mark Fuhrman did. The fact that poor black people have been screwed by the system time and time again permitted a mostly-black jury to let some rich black men screw the system.

What could have been done differently to have lead to a just verdict?

I know I'll never forget this case. Women and people who care about the truth shouldn't, either. The truth, that OJ Simpson slaughtered two people in cold blood, was completely lost on a jury who fell for Johnnie Cochrane's black folks revival. While I'm angry with OJ for committing the murder in the first place, I'm also very angry with the LA police for permitting a Mark Fuhrman to further poison its people and for letting a celebrity get away with murder.

I'll probably get hate mail saying that I'm a racist. I assure you, I'm not. When I first heard about the double murders, and that OJ was being questioned, my immediate reaction was, "The cops are overreacting, how ridiculous." But, as issues of Simpson's history as a spouse abuser became public, and the fact that no one, not even his friends like Cowlings or Cardasshian, can explain where OJ was during the course of the murders, and that OJ sure spilled a lot of blood between June 13 & 14, looked like OJ might be a murderer.

Also, the defense went out of its way to paint two completely contradictory pictures of the police department and the crime lab. They were both completely incompetent and engaged in the conspiracy of the century. It might have been nice if someone had noticed this on the jury.

Setting OJ free does not right the wrongs of the LA police department. It's a very old cliche but oh so true in this case, "Two wrongs don't make a right."

Using tired cliches over a case like this leaves me angry...but life goes on.

Except for a striking blonde named Nicole Brown Simpson and a heroic but luckless waiter named Ronald Goldman.

Update, Feburary 5, 1997

Well, I'm not quite so angry today. A kind of justice has been served. I suppose half-a-justice is better than none.

Responses to this Essay

I've received some interesting responses to this essay. I received some thoughtful responses from women who disagreed with me. I received some abusive responses from men who disagreed with me. I received some supportive responses from people who agreed with me.

But I also got this response that cuts to the very heart of this race versus gender debate:

From: [[a reader who only used his initials]]

We read your essay on the case,however this is not the real story.O.J. and his legal staff are defending the "Consituttion".

This case was a race case for day one,made that way by "Time Inc. The boycott is race based also.On 16 October in Washington DC the American saet of goverment One Million African-American Men will say; "STOP THE BOYCOTT,GET OFF O.J.'S CASE OR WE WILL GET ON YOUR CASE".

The fightback is on.

I responded to the person this way:

From: "Laurie D. T. Mann"
To: [[a reader who only used his initials]]

I'm fascinated to hear that the million man march, which is SUPPOSED to be a spiritual [[time]] for black men and a time for them to make commitments to their families, is now "a time to get off OJ's case." Even if you don't believe he's a murderer, he's still an unapologetic wife beater. What great symbolism for the black people.

***William Kennedy Smith, Lyle & Eric Menendez, and OJ Simpson all prove***
***that in America, guilt doesn't matter if your checkbook is big enough!***
Laurie Mann

Letter to NOW