HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
September 24, 2007, Herald Journal

Simpson trial a tipping point


OJ Simpson, 60, is back in the news again, and this time, maybe he’ll get jail time.

Simpson was in the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas Sept. 16 for booking on two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and conspiracy to commit a crime and burglary with a firearm. If convicted of the charges, Simpson will face up to 30 years in state prison on each robbery count, alone.

Police had arrested Simpson as part of an armed group who burst into a Las Vegas hotel room and snatched sports memorabilia, according to Ryan Nakashima, an Associated Press writer.

Simpson’s first “brush” with the law was 1994, when his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, were killed.

During the farce of Simpson’s year-long trial afterward, I wasn’t aware of a change in people’s attitudes. Simpson’s acquittal, however, was a tipping point for many liberals, especially for those attitudes regarding race and affirmative action. People started to realize that not all blacks are victims of racism.

Roger L. Simon, a Hollywood screen writer, wrote about it in a column Sept. 17, “OJ Changed My Life.” Simon and his wife ran in the same circle of celebrities that OJ did back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s.

“Still, it never crossed our minds at the outset that the black community would be such a staunch defender of Simpson. He lived, if anything, an upper class, white lifestyle, hanging out at swanky Brentwood parties in the company of well-tended California blondes,” Simon said.

Later, Simon and his wife attended Simpson’s trial for murdering his ex-wife and Goldman. There, Simon looked at the women in the jury, and how the Simpson defense team’s racial pandering affected them.

“I started to feel sad. What had happened to America that things come to such a pass, that a group of black women were about to free a rich black celebrity who had butchered his white wife and a friend of hers? . . . These women, largely from South Central Los Angeles and similar neighborhoods, lived lives light years from OJ and his friends, and yet, they still bent over backwards to defend this man who essentially deserted them,” Simon said.

Most college-age people start out as liberals, as Simon was. Then, something happens to many of them to make them change their views. There’s a saying that conservatives are liberals who have been mugged.

As time passed after the acquittal, I also suspected, as Simon did, Simpson’s getting away with murder was a tipping point for many folks.

For some liberals it was 9/11, or the Democrats’ growing anti-Israel slant that changed them. My tipping point away from liberalism was the US Supreme Court decision, Roe vs Wade.

The passing of time often brings a tipping point into focus.