The O.J. Debacle
A couple of weary words on the O.J. trial.
- It was a Prisoner's
Dilemma played out between the minority jurors and the police. The
L.A. cops, in beating people like Rodney King while sheltering people
like Mark Fuhrman, routinely and arrogantly play the defection card,
over and over. What sanctimoniousness leads them to expect the jury
to play by the rules--to cooperate--when they finally have a chance
to exercise a "Tit for Tat" strategy! I hope someone high up in the LAPD,
instead of blaming the jury,
is slapping his forehead about now, exclaiming, "If we had fired Mark Fuhrman
five years ago, this might never have happened!" The case went definitively
down the drain the moment Fuhrman took the Fifth Amendment in response to
questions about whether he had tampered with the evidence. Though this
did not happen in front of the jury, without doubt they heard about it
and it became impossible at that moment to convict Simpson beyond a
reasonable doubt based on the physical evidence Fuhrman had found or
- Its time to get cameras out of the courtrrom. They don't promote
democracy; they bend it all out of shape.
Neil Postman is right that typography makes us think, while
television makes us forget even that we have forgotten how to think.
Everyone in the courtroom became an actor, looking for the right
camera angle and line. Democracy is well enough served by reporters
attending trials and publishing reports, and by publicly available
- Let's also get the money away from the courtroom. There is
a massive conflict of interest in movie producers, book publishers
and other scavengers approaching sitting jurors. Frequently, a
particular outcome, conviction or acquittal, will make a more
marketable product. While either denouement to the Simpson trial
would have been equally dramatic, an acquittal in another type of trial
might turn it into a shaggy dog story. How can jurors remain impartial
when their fair vote might transform a million dollar story into
something no-one wants to purchase? Lets make laws
prohibiting anyone from offering money to a sitting juror;
lets also provide that a juror accepting money within twelve months
after a trial must contribute it to a Crime Victims' Compensation
- Never judge another til you have walked in his shoes. I can
understand the juror's version of the Prisoner's Dilemma; but I
cannot walk in the shoes of those I spoke to this week who think
Simpson is guilty, but were glad to see him go free anyway.
- I believe Simpson is guilty. Most of us--not all--have a conscience.
If he slashed Nicole Brown Simpson and Robert Goldman to death, I
hope he will not be able to live with himself, even though the jury
set him free. What goes around, comes around.