OJ Simpson 5 Part Series on ESPN
OJ and the legal system
I just finished the 5 part series about OJ Simpson that aired on ESPN. It actually is on the mobile app and if you have the app on your TV through Apple TV or whatever you can watch all the episodes and I also think it may be on Netflix. It is excellently done and worth the watch. It is also very different than the Fox version which was a reenactment of the hearing, while this is a behind the scenes documentary going through the whole thing from each person's perspective.
First off I learned so much from this documentary, about what was going on in society at the time, how this case changed many things in our society, and how the justice system works. It was so good and so compelling and it is interesting to see the perspectives of all the people involved in the case. You get to see video from the case back then, then hear their perspectives now on it then and on how they feel now. Obviously it was a massive trial with worldwide coverage, and viewers were given as much OJ as they could handle.
There are a couple things I want to comment on after watching it and hopefully I will have a perspective different from others who have watched it. I haven't read anything else after watching it so I don't know what people are saying except that I know people who watched it thought it was great, while being obviously very sad.
First of all, I remember the car chase and the White Bronco driving down the freeway when I was a kid. I don't remember my perspective on it, or my feelings on OJ before it or during the trial. I do remember that I bought a shirt that said "Free The Juice" and it had his mug shot on it. I remember being scared to wear it because I bought it as a joke and I knew I couldn't wear it to school or church or anything like that. And that brings me to my first point. And that is the ignorance of the people. As I said, I don't remember my position on the trial, but as a kid, I'm guessing I wasn't locked into hours of testimony on a daily basis. And when you are watching the trial, you see this momentum being gained every day and every week for OJ throughout the trial. And with each subsequent video they showed of people being interviewed and showing video of people with signs cheering for OJ and yelling to let him go free it made me think about the ignorance of all of it. How many people watched the coverage every day? Few to none. So did people just watch the "highlights" each night. Some probably did. But my guess is most people decided he was either guilty or innocent, and that is it. And I think the ignorance of all of it at the time was sad. You have people basically picketing outside every day with signs saying that OJ is innocent and Mark Fuhrman is guilty and yelling and screaming. Well wait a minute. They are doing this during the trial. Which means they are missing the trial. Which means there could be new information or new evidence that decides the case, and they are outside yelling and screaming and not hearing it. I could see people picketing after its over if they didn't get the decision they wanted, but during? To me that shows ignorance. And I know I was guilty of it too. But I had an excuse, I was a kid. But I think societely we are the same today. We either like or hate Trump. We either like or hate Hillary. We either like or hate Obama. We either like or hate Lebron, Kobe, Muslims, Beiber, Rap Music, religion, the list goes on and on. And do we do research every day and learn new things about these topics and evolve our thoughts every day? I kinda doubt it. Guy who hated Trump 6 months ago hasn't looked into his foreign policy and decided to come around, and probably guy who loves Trump is still pretty locked in no matter what he says or who he insults. So watching this documentary I was saddened by the ignorance of many of the people who just thought he was guilty or innocent based on their race, or his race, or because Mark Fuhrman was a racist, and didn't really seem to care what the evidence told us.
The second, and probably the most important thing I got from the OJ documentary was the way our justice system works and the flaws in it. This is something that I have noticed in sports a lot and I hate the aspect of it.
First off, winning is everything in our country and that is part of what makes us great. And anyone who knows me, it might as well me my mantra. I love to compete and I love to win. Here is the problem, because we have put so much monetary value on winning, people will do anything to win. Including cheat. And why not? If you can be a millionaire simply by cheating, why wouldn't you? Guy 1 lives and honest life and makes 50k a year and lives in near poverty. Guy 2 cheats to get ahead (lets say in sports), gets ahead, and makes millions of dollars and is famous and all the rest. Whats the downside? Getting caught? Guess what, they don't take the money back when you get caught. They may take away some future money but they can't take away what you have already made. And no sports have a total ban for players. So even if you do get caught and lose some money, you can always come back and make more.
I got side tracked a little there but here is the point. Because winning has become so important and so lucrative, people manipulate the rules in order to win. I have made this analogy before but here it is again. What was the purpose of timeouts in football when they were invented? To rest your players, give them a break when they are tired, or to implement strategy. What are they used for now? To manipulate the clock. To gain extra possessions. To stop your team from getting a penalty. None of those are the spirit of why they were implemented. Why were fouls in basketball invented? So that when someone's shot gets changed because they were hit, they are awarded free throws to make it fair. How about today? Fouls are for stopping a sure basket, for stopping the clock, for putting bad free throw shooters at the line knowing they make them at a low percentage. And how about flopping. Now we fake to try and trick the ref into thinking we are fouled so we can get a free two points. This is not the spirit of why these things were invented. And that is because of how important we as a society have made winning. That we look for any tiny edge to help us win. And then those tiny edges get adopted by everyone and they become standard. Because if you don't exploit those edges, you will be fired and someone will be brought in who will, in order for the team to have a better chance to WIN.
So how does this relate to the OJ trial. I think the same thing happened in this trial. When trials were first invented, and I'm going to go by my own personal guess, they were there to give people a fair shot at justice after some kind of crime was committed. Each side presented the facts from their point of view, and to the best of their ability the jury came up with a verdict. And most of the time justice was probably served. But then, through time, the "best" lawyers learned how to manipulate the system and take advantage of loopholes in order to win their cases. These lawyers were elevated to a prestigious level, and made more money. This inevitably caught on and became the norm. And now we have a system where everyone is trying to manipulate the laws and manipulate people and evidence in order to win their case. No one cares if the person is guilty or innocent. NO ONE. Not the prosecution nor the defense. They want to win the case so they can gain more notoriety, have a better case record, and hopefully demand more money for their services. This was so evident in the OJ trial and it made me sick. These murders were so horrific. And, in my opinion, it was CLEAR that OJ did it. And I'm not mad at the prosecution that they got him off. I am mad that there is a system in place that doesn't care about finding the truth. Its about lawyers battling each other in order to win. Let's say OJ had told his team of lawyers, before the case started, that he did it. Would they have done anything differently? Probably not a lot. Their job was not to see that justice was served. Their job was to get their client off. Just like if he really didn't do it. The prosecution wouldn't have said no he is innocent he should be free. They would have done the same thing. And its sad. And to be honest, I don't know how it can change. How many cases have been thrown out because one small piece of evidence was collected incorrectly? How many testimonies have been thrown out because they were recorded improperly? Thats not the spirit of what we are trying to do. Mark Fuhrman was racist when he was young. Does that mean that he planted a glove? Does that mean that if he happens to find the second glove then it shouldn't count because he used to be racist? There was a blood analyst who accidentally touched a piece of evidence without a glove on. I am sure he didn't do it on purpose and I'm sure he feels absolutely horrible that he did that. And I'm sure he uses gloves for 99.99% of evidence he touches. But because he touched one tiny thing without a glove on his testimony doesn't count? We have made this process so precise that if you make one mistake its like you can throw out the whole thing. Forget OJ threatening to kill her over and over. Forget that he beat her constantly. Forget his blood all over the crime scene. Forget that there was NOT A FIBER OF ANY OTHER PERSON WHATSOEVER. But since he touched something without a glove, he is a fraud and everything he says is dismissed. And thats not why trials exist. We are not hoping to run through footage looking for mistakes. We need to be trying to find the truth. Last example. Remember when Ryan Braun failed that urine test but the guy who was in charge of it either stored it improperly or something and because of his mistake they couldn't convict Braun. It was so ridiculous. It made no difference how guilty Braun was, one mistake in protocol and he is off the hook. To me it doesn't make sense. And I know the other side says, well what if that mistake is the reason that person looks guilty. I get it, and I understand that I don't have a great solution but the system in place needs to be fixed.
The last thing is this. As sad as it sounds, the way it worked out seems to be perfect. With the Rodney King beating and the shooting of that little girl, there were major race problems in LA at that time. And in the documentary you could feel the tension as the trial came to a close. They show a great scene when the verdict is read and all the people outside the courthouse erupt in a cheer. There were police officers on horseback and the cheer they let out scared the horses and almost bucked the officers riding them. What would have happened if he had been guilty? The cheer of those people scared the horses, imagine if they all had angrily charged those officers. Someone probably would have been killed and maybe many people. There would have been more rioting in Los Angeles, and because the trial had so much national attention, maybe other places as well. And that case exposed a lot of the corruption and racism that was taking place in the LAPD and probably with police all over the US. I'm sure police all over the country were telling their officers that they need to be more careful on how they treat people because of the exposure that Fuhrman got. And maybe it helped a little bit. Hopefully it helped a little bit. But that doesn't help the Brown and Goldman families. OJ was free. But I think they got their justice as well. It may have taken years, but OJ was found guilty in Vegas of another crime and put in prison. OJ got the sentence he should have gotten the first time, and this time, there would be no repercussions socially because of it.
All in all, its a great documentary and well worth the watch.