The world tuned in as Orenthal James Simpson, Inmate Number 1027820 of the Nevada Department of Corrections, went before a parole board.
Simpson was granted parole and will be released from the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada on Oct. 1.
It was somewhat shocking that networks interrupted regular programming to cover the Juice’s parole hearing.
This wasn’t the same as the networks covering Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or Attorney General Jeff Sessions getting grilled by members of the Senate over the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
Those Congressional hearings were serious events that the American people have a need to know about. Simpson’s parole hearing doesn’t quite have the same weight of Congressional hearings that may or may not implicate the President of the United States in some wrongdoing.
At the same time, people were really, really interested in it.
It was reminiscent of 23 years ago when Simpson was arrested for the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpsons, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. The so-called Trial of the Century was covered more extensively than the war in Bosnia and the Oklahoma City bombing by ABC, CBS, and NBC.
When Simpson was found not guilty, Black people celebrated. It wasn’t because of Simpson himself, who had long attempted to distance himself from the Black community at large. It wasn’t because we marveled at his gridiron prowess or loved his movies so much (Simpson was, at best, a C-list actor in terms of talent).
It was because Simpson had the sense (and pockets) to hire the late Johnnie Cochran.
Simpson is a Black man living in America, regardless of how much he tried to distance himself from his melanin. His murder trial became as much about race as it was about the two victims. For most of the country, the presumption of innocence turned into a presumption of guilt.
Cochran got Simpson an acquittal. It was one of the few times when a Black defendant went up against the American justice system and won. It was the first time I can remember Caucasians saying things about the American justice system that I heard coming from the mouths of African Americans my entire life.
Twenty-two years after Simpson’s acquittal, I could care less about Simpson’s parole. His conviction on kidnapping and armed robbery had much to do with his murder acquittal and I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell to anyone who believes otherwise.
It’s because I understand today that it’s his fault he got locked up the second time around.
Instead of just living his life quietly somewhere, Simpson thought he could press his luck after the murder conviction. No amount of charisma was going to help him a second time around, especially since there’s a large segment of the population that believes he literally got away with murder.
It’s because I’m not that same college student who foolishly believed that Simpson’s murder acquittal was somehow a victory for the race as a whole.
He did everything in his power to distance himself from me and everyone who looks like me. No one says he has to think a certain way or believe in certain things because his skin is brown. At the same time, he doesn’t deserve my allegiance just because he had the bankroll to hire some damn good lawyers.
I don’t care about his parole. I also don’t care about where he will live when he gets released, the restrictions that will be placed upon him, or what he will do for money.
There are more important things for me to devote my thoughts to, more pressing issues than what this former NFL player/actor will do with his life. This ambivalence sounds cold but there’s a science to it.
My life will go on whether or not Simpson got paroled. The things I have to deal with will not change one iota when he’s released in a little more than two months.
I also don’t want to deal with the spectacle that will most certainly take place when Simpson is released.
His murder trial was the most sensational news event of my lifetime and it was covered without cell phones, tablets, and social media. Now that all these methods are available, his release will take time away from stories that actually matter.
And I still won’t give a damn…but recognize much of the public doesn’t share my sentiment.