Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Trash Taking Trash From Trash

There is already something empty about this latest OJ Simpson saga. We can't see the victim. The victim in a crime is most often the rallying point, the source of heat and light that inspires us, and stokes the wheels of justice. Absent a victim, we settle for the colder standard - the law itself, and for our need to see the law upheld. The legal problem with this case is that it is fueled by Simpson's cohorts' alleged possession of a gun that was neither fired nor wielded in any way that left so much as a bruise. In a society where there are estimated to be 100 million guns, our outrage much logically be muted.

That aside, what we have is all rather seedy: a gathering of thugs in a Vegas hotel room - thieves among thieves. There are no innocents here. Victim? The so-called "victims" look like rejects from a Sopranos re-run (...woke up this morning, got yourself a gun...). You almost want to say, "Hey, turn it into a made-for-television movie, then turn the channel." That may be all that it is good for. Except, a law was broken.

That O.J. is charged with eleven offenses further adds to the circus nature of these proceedings. One legal correspondent compares the charges brought against O.J. to an exercise a law professor might present to his students: "I give you a circumstance, you find as many charges as possible." In reality, what we have is trash taking trash from trash. (A memorabilia expert estimates the entire worth of the property in question to be no more than $1500). The crime is that grown men would be fighting over something so trivial.

When we are faced with a crime, we are faced with these three truths: Before us, the victim; besides us, the law; and behind us, our own pressing need for vengeance. At the end of what many are calling "O.J. III," I fear all we will be left with is the last and least of the three - and we shall all be the worse for calling it "satisfaction."

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