by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

A woman wept. Her sobs echoed through the courtroom, distracting you like someone coughing during a movie. Her voice, raw and broken, cried as the first
“Not guilty” was read by the bailiff, and as the second “Not guilty” was read. On and on it went, this terrible sobbing, even as O.J. Simpson smiled and his lawyer, Johnnie Cochran, shook a fist as if his team had just scored a touchdown. The tears belonged to Kim Goldman. They streamed down her face and into her hair, matting it against her cheeks. She buried her head in her father’s chest, but she couldn’t stop. Her brother, Ron, is buried in the ground — same as Nicole Brown — and today there is no killer behind bars to avenge their death. In all likelihood, there never will be. She wept for them.

She could have wept for us all.

Who wins? Not the victims, not the families, not Simpson’s children, who might always wonder whether Daddy killed Mommy. Not the police, who thought they were in charge when they were actually on trial. Not the jury, which rushed from its duty like kids who couldn’t wait to go to the bathroom.

Who wins? Not blacks. The Boston woman who faxed a radio station with a note that read “Black Power Lives!” and the cheering crowds on the streets of LA are terribly misguided. O.J. is not free because he is black. He is free because he was rich and famous, and that is enough in this country to get an army of lawyers who will throw mud and smoke until the truth is simply a distraction.

This kind of purchased justice is nothing new. What’s ironic is that it is practiced more by whites than by blacks in America. Any poor black man who thinks this case is a good sign if he gets in trouble better hope he wins the lottery. Otherwise, Cochran and Barry Scheck will not be rushing to his aid.

Who wins?

It’s over for Simpson, too

Not cops. They were the ones found guilty in this trial. Detective Mark Fuhrman, a snake of a man, was right when he said, “If I go down, the case goes down.” He didn’t know his racist words, not his evidence, would be what shook the verdict loose.

Who wins? Not Simpson. Yes, he is free this morning, but free to do what? He was addicted to fame, adulation, people believing a lie, that he was this sweetheart of a guy when he was nothing more than a punk who beat up his wife. Those pictures of Nicole Simpson looking like a bloody welt will never go away, neither will his voice on the 911 tape calling her a “bitch” and screaming, “I’ll kill you.”

Simpson’s old life is over. The corporate world that fed him will shun him now, and network sports won’t touch him. Movies? I doubt it. The only non-family who will want him now are those who enjoy danger and those who want a slice of him for their own fame. Larry King will be his friend for a night. Barbara Walters, too. So? They are bloodsuckers (King went live Tuesday night, shamelessly asking jurors to call him.) As soon as Simpson cools off, he’ll be spit out like bad food. It’s a sad end, a sad statement

Who wins? Not women. It might be open season on celebrity wives, because the subtle message is if you’re famous enough, you can get out of anything. The rise of sexual assault in the sports world is not discouraged by Tuesday’s outcome. The last words the jury heard were Nicole pleading “help me.” The next thing they did was acquit her husband.

Who wins? Not the American people. Everywhere they look, they get depressed, from the fallen football hero, to the sloppy, racist police, to the lawyers who sunk to new lows — even Robert Shapiro said he “would never work again” with Cochran or F. Lee Bailey — to the jurors. The jurors were the last disappointment. Four hours for a verdict? With all that evidence? In the end, they come across as selfish as the rest, painting themselves as victims
(“We’ve been in there nine months,” one juror snapped to explain the quick verdict. Another said, “Someone gotta win, someone gotta lose.”).

The truth is, these jurors will spend more time on book deals than they did reviewing the case.

Who wins? Every expert worth a nickel says the evidence was enough to convict 10 people. In 16 months, no one has offered a whisper of another real suspect — and this is after Simpson himself offered $500,000 for information and a New York disc jockey offered $1 million. Not a peep?

And so it ends. The media made this a sideshow, the lawyers were only too happy to jump in, and all we can do is shut the damn thing off, do not give any more time to Cochran, Resnick or Kato as they dive into the pig slop of fame. And anyone who buys a pay-per-view interview with Simpson — which is surely coming — is as slimy as he is. You might as well pay a stranger to slug your wife.

In the time it took to hear this case, thousands of men and women were killed in equally brutal fashion. Their cases drew no headlines, no cameras. But this was never about the average American. It isn’t now.

Who wins? Blacks still don’t trust whites. Whites still don’t trust blacks. Nobody trusts the police. Everyone hates lawyers. The victims are in the cemetery, nobody is in jail, and the final sounds of the Trial of the Century were the a sobbing of a dead man’s sister and the words “not guilty” being read for all the wrong reasons. Who wins?

The TV ratings, that’s who wins.

Sometimes this country makes me so sad I want to fly away.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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