O.J. makes life without guilt look easy

December 09, 2008

I happened to catch the O.J. Simpson sentencing live on Friday, where the former running back was explaining to the judge that he hadn't realized that bursting into a hotel room, holding people against their will at gunpoint and taking their possessions was against the law.

Yeah. It probably wouldn't have occurred to me, either. It's one of those pesky laws, like having to turn on your headlights when the windshield wipers are on.

"I didn't know I was doing anything illegal," Simpson told the judge.

And I believe he was telling the truth; I don't think he believes anything he does is illegal. How cool is that? To be able to go through life without that miserable thing most of us know as a conscious. To me, that's a gift. I'm more like Charlie Brown - everything I do makes me feel guilty.

All the papers called his statement "rambling," but I thought it was art. He bounced, grinning, into the courtroom and then, facing Judge Jackie Glass, poured out more emotion than Tammy Faye Baker during a fundraising drive. I hadn't seen such good acting since "Capricorn 1."


The hotel scene was all good, clean fun among thugs, and they've since talked, with apologies all around, and shared hugs and laughs and conversations about the kids.

It wasn't an armed robbery, it was a Walton Family Christmas.

No one hates anyone, even though they "tried to set me up in a porn video," Simpson said. He's done book reports with their children and sung to their wives when they were sick.

How can you not like a guy like that?

It was only when "Operation Keep My Valuables Away From Fred Goldman" turned up on tape that things began to go wrong.

Hold on. Did someone say porn video? This is what is wrong with today's journalism. I didn't hear one single follow-up question about the porn video. Only in the world of O.J. Simpson could such a detail be considered so mundane that it wasn't even the basis for further investigation.

Of course, hanging over the courtroom was the "unpleasantness" of 1994. Judge Glass went out of her way to explain how that little matter had no bearing on the stiff sentence she imposed on the Juice. Could be, I suppose. But we know how government works. They send the mass-murdering drug kingpin up the river for failing to report on his taxes the cash value of some Beyonce tickets he won at the county fair.

But then, the whole courtroom scene was bizarre, as bit players in the world's judicial system took full advantage of their one chance to get on national TV. One attorney who was obviously aware the cameras were rolling - I'm not lying - launched into a lengthy speech of how this case reminded him of something that happened during the Civil War. (Everything in life could be explained by some detail of the Civil War, he said.)

So he goes on to explain everything that happened from 1859 on. He had fired on Fort Sumter, freed the slaves and engaged in several major battles and was just about, we can only assume, to get to the point, when MSNBC cut to a commercial break.

I was devastated. You know how, listening to a long story - even a terribly bad, long story - you become emotionally involved and need some sense of closure? Now I will never have it. I will go to the grave wondering what in Sam Hill the Battle of Fredericksburg had to do with a posse of goons storming a Vegas hotel to retrieve a 1975 photo of O.J. Simpson's kid standing with Gerald Ford.

If anyone was watching a network that didn't cut away, please let me know. At this point, I'm a lot more interested in that than I am the pathetic old football star himself.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or via e-mail at

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