Simpson was just a wealthy abuser who got away with murder
Janell Ross reports: Black and white Americans seem to agree on very little these days, if it has anything at all to do with race and the criminal justice system. But new data from a Washington Post-ABC News poll has identified an issue once regarded as a key barometer of America’s racial divide where that divide has been closed.
We’re talking, of course, about O.J. Simpson.
The share of Americans who believe that Simpson was “definitely” or “probably” guilty of the murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman is moving in the same direction across racial lines. A majority of both sides agree that he was at least “probably” guilty,” and never before have black and white Americans been closer to agreement.
Now to be clear, 20 years after the jury announced its June 1995 not-guilty verdict in Simpson’s criminal trial, white and black opinion on this matter remains pretty divided. A full 83 percent of white Americans said that they are “definitely” or “probably” sure of Simpson’s guilt. By contrast, 57 percent of black Americans agreed.
But what’s noteworthy here is that both figures have reached an all-time high and are moving in the same direction, despite two successive summers in which questions of possible police misconduct and systemic racial disparities in the criminal justice system — issues very real in the Simpson case — have occupied the headlines.
The Washington Post‘s astute polling team points out that part of the change might well be driven by technical changes. The specific wording of the question about Simpson’s guilt changed just slightly over the course of the 21 years that The Post-ABC poll has queried Americans on this issue. Also, in 1997, a civil jury found Simpson liable for the deaths of Brown Simpson and Goldman. (Notice those 1997 uptick in the trend lines up above. Read the rest of this entry »
The show, titled Holy Safari, would feature Simpson traveling the world and interviewing religious leaders, even the Pope. Simpson is awaiting a decision on the appeal of his convictions for armed robbery and kidnapping.
Norman Pardo, the promoter, who has known Simpson for 20 years, had some rather interesting things to say about his client: that he constantly reads the Bible as well as the Koran, that he converted a white supremacist to Christianity while in prison, and most importantly, that Simpson is the best person to impart the message of God.
Not all are unreasonable
By Theodore Dalrymple
The man who walks out of his house with a mind devoid of stereotypes is like the man who goes to the Antarctic without having inquired about the weather. But there is no such man: for even to know that the Antarctic exists is to know that it tends to be cold there. Our minds are necessarily full of stereotypes and we could not negotiate the world without them.
George Zimmerman is accused by his detractors of having acted upon a stereotype. He saw a young black man allegedly pursuing an erratic course in a gated community and he concluded that he was up to no good, that quite possibly or even probably he was a burglar on the prowl. If only he had kept another stereotype in his mind, things might not have turned out so disastrously: It was raining that evening and burglars do not like the rain. In fact, the principal cause of certain kinds of crime is clement weather, because the statistical association between such weather and those types of crime is the strongest known to me, stronger even than those between smoking and criminality (more than 90 percent of prisoners, at least in Britain, smoke), and between tattooing and criminality (an even higher percentage of white criminals are tattooed, except for those charged with fraud, embezzlement, etc.).
I first learned of the meteorological causes of crime on the walk that I took most afternoons for 15 years, between the hospital where I worked in the morning to the prison where I worked in the afternoon. It was about 600 yards, and on fine summer days up to six or seven cars parked on the way would have been broken into, the little shards of shattered glass sparkling, almost with the color of peridots, on the curbside. In winter, or in the rain, not a single car was ever broken into, and I was surprised that the police had not issued a warning to car owners to park their cars only in bad weather. Criminals may be tough, but they are not hardy.
Now, if George Zimmerman had realized this, it would have neutralized his alleged stereotype and the whole tragedy would not have occurred. He didn’t realize that it was unlikely (though not absolutely impossible) that the young man was on a criminal enterprise because he wasn’t hurrying to get out of the rain, as most true criminals would have done if they had been caught in it.