Friday, December 5, 2008

The Juice Is No Longer Loose


Is this the final act in the O.J. Simpson tragedy? Fourteen years after his infamous acquittal for double murder, the Hall of Fame running back was sentenced to a maximum 33 years in prison, though eligible for parole in 2017, for kidnapping stemming from an altercation in a Las Vegas hotel room last year. (Read Simpson's plea for leniency here.)

Many stories and blogs have skipped to the most interesting subplot of this story--namely, is this retribution for the perception of many that he slipped free from the hands of justice in the same way he dodged would-be tacklers in the NFL?

The entertainment blog at the Los Angeles Times, The Dish Rag, gets right to the point with the headline, "O.J. Simpson Sentenced to Jail Time. Finally!" with an exclamation point for good measure.

In an indication of Simpson's multi-platform stardom, sports bloggers from USA Today's Game On! include legal analysis on the judge's sentencing. ESPN's Lester Munson said, "this is a very stiff sentence," while adding, "Clearly the judge had no idea of leniency, or mercy or forgiving him for this robbery."

Though it adds nothing new to the discussion, the Washington Post actually has an NFL and crime blog called, NFL Crime Watch, which does not say much for the state of football and society when there is enough football players "gone wild" to justify its own blog.

Simpson's first go-around with the legal system ended more happily for the man known as "the Juice." His acquittal of charges of murdering his ex-wife and Ronald Goldman divided the nation along racial lines. Many believe Simpson literally "got away with murder."

In a 2002 speech at The Commonwealth Club of California, Simpson's lead attorney, the late Johnnie Cochran, answered the ubiquitous query, "Did O.J. do it?" (Read Cochran's entire speech or here.)

I think he is innocent for the following reasons: Never before have I seen a case, and I'll work backwards, where one of the star witnesses pleads guilty to perjury during the course of the trial. Never before have I seen a case where so much of the evidence was tampered with.... I argued the case to the jury in good faith, because he always maintained he was innocent; I'll be debating and arguing this case forever, but that was pretty much it.

In many ways the initial stream of thought in the blogosphere is similar to the media circus Americans witnessed outside the Los Angeles County Courthouse in 1994.

Lee Stranahan at the Huffington Post is urging President Bush to pardon Simpson as a smoke screen until January 20, while another blogger posing as O.J. writes that the authorities should look into the death of William Shatner's wife because "he's a no-talent hack."

This may be the end of O.J. in American popular culture, of course, until the biopic of his life comes out in theaters Christmas Day 2020. Any guesses to who will play O.J.? Will Smith, maybe, or foul-mouthed child actor Bobb'e J. Thompson from the movie, Role Models?


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