OJ's Money Does Time

$8.5 million worth of guilt for Ron Goldman alone, with punitive damages still to come. Guilty. All the way, unanimously, and in-your-face Guilty! The 2nd Jury has spoken. On his way back home in the latest low speed chase (only helicopters this time), OJ quietly stops for some Baskin-Robbins! Life can't be too bad. At least the brother's not going to jail.

Meanwhile, Ron and Nicole are still dead, their families are receiving justice only to find out it doesn't make a difference. And President Clinton thanks the networks for sticking with his (tired-ass??) State of the Union laundry list of what he wants Congress to do next. As if wishing will make it so. As if anyone cares?

Two things interest me about the latest OJ verdict: the great Race Question and the sad, sad state of the American news media.

Race is the Place!

Racial matters are wound throughout the OJ affair. With months of media discussion of the ethnicity of every single juror, with the uproar about what the black jury did in the first trial and the incessant analysis we'll have in coming months about what the white jury did in the civil trial, race ain't about to disappear. What with venue-shifting, jury shopping and the rest.

It still fascinates me that whites and blacks see OJ's culpability so differently. Polls show that whites overwhelmingly believe OJ did the murders. And, though I'm told we can't believe polls of black folks, the whooping and hollering which was televised over and over and over again following the first verdict suggests that a sizable number of black folks believe OJ was innocent (not just "not guilty"). This despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Seems everyone in America has racial blinders on, at least a good part of the time. Me too. I keep asking myself these questions. If the first, black jury had found OJ guilty, would white folks treat black folks better? And if the Federal Govment had paid black folks reparations, would OJ have still killed Nicole?

See, I have no answer for these and other questions, but I find them more fascinating than the Rodney King "Can we all just ... get along" kind of question. Get along to do what?

In any event, it looks like "the white community" just got well. The end of the OJ-funk is upon them, moving to better days. Days when we can all talk civil-like about race relations. And so MSNBC's internet reporter talked about all the racist comments in the chat rooms this evening. And Gravity's even begun to receive alledgedly racist email again. Short fuse.....BOOM!

Are relations between the races the issue, or is it maintaining a certain relationship? I've always wondered about the term "race relations" anyway. What does it mean and how will you know it when you get there?

What it doesn't mean is honest talk between the races. More like honest talk about the other race. OJ doesn't begin to change that. Neither does President Clinton's impassioned pleas. Not to mention Newt Gingrich's pleas, especially with that Dick Armey guy ready to foam at the mouth. But I digress.

500 News Channels?

The media is truly funny. The local CBS channel with half a screen of Clinton in deep speech and half a screen of helicopter shot of the Santa Monica court building where NOTHING was happening? MSNBC's post-verdict report was a laugh. Like, who cares about the tenor of conversation in chat rooms? Chat rooms?? Doesn't the entire world realize by now that CHAT = B.S.? Or maybe entertainment. I guess if people like to do it, it must be important. You can actually get a gig reporting on chat rooms? No wonder there's little of value on the Net!

Then there's OJ via MTV -- the jump cut, rapid flashing of incoherent images and words. Let's listen to ten seconds from this analyst at Rockingham, now a commercial, and then we bring you our panel of experts, yelling over each other's blatherings. Umm, could you guys bear with us for a moment while we get a reaction from some law students in Florida (carefully selected to be half white and half black) who will tell us exactly what the LA suits had to say. One question each. No engagement! No discussion! No resolution! Just a chat. Where is Oprah when we need her?

And why, standing at the front of a small classroom, do we need two cameras to follow the reporter around as he questions each student as if they were the only one in the room? Have these guys trained on Network and Putney Swope??

The scene leading up to the verdict was pretty revealing. Channel hopping, I heard the local network affiliates and the cable news outlets all talking about what the verdict would mean if it was such and such. Of course we're just assuming. And our man/woman at the scene will be standing outside the sound trailer waiting for the Pontific flashcards to tell us whether OJ's money is going down this time.

I'm all, why don't we just WAIT and see what happens! Of course, I'm always that way. Whatever happened to competing for the news? Now we've got competing for the speculations about the news. The actual news is secondary. Now that we've got the verdict and $8.5 million in damages, we've got to speculate about OJ's financial statements and how much larger the punitive damages will be.

The death of Nicole and Ron wasn't enough. OJ has punitively damaged the American psyche. And given everyone something to be against and for. Unfortunately, at different times. But, that's OK if the goal is selling Nissans on TV and Microsoft on the Net. Come to our chat room, dammit!

But you see, I have no special expertise. Just a drunken guy sauntering through cyberspace, happy there are no gutters to lie in. Looking for a spot where, in my more sober moments, with maybe even a flash of occasional genius, there might be a way to put these things in a proper, non-commercial, perspective.


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