O.J. and the compartmentalization of serious crime

O.J. Simpson died at 76 of prostate cancer–which despite the ‘health experts’ and media’s insistence is harmless and slow-growing, even going so far as to reclassify certain prostate cancers as non-cancers–evidently still kills people at a relatively young age. This goes to show how useless and harmful many of these health experts are, as we saw during Covid. What part of cancer do you not understand; cancer by definition means it can spread and thus kill.

At the time of his death, the only people who had not moved on was the Goldman family. To the rest of the public, his crime amounted to little more than comedic relief and an inexhaustible source of late night TV fodder. There is a sort of cognitive dissonance in which we have to a accept O.J. is a murderer, yet somehow occupies a grey area of ambiguity in which we cannot totally bring ourselves to that fact. Here you have a literal murderer–not a figurative one like a stand-up comedian that ‘kills it’–but a guy who literally killed two people in cold blood, tried to flee the scene, and used his celebrity status to buy his way out of justice, and the collective response is jokes about him ‘resting knowing his wife’s killer is dead’.

This shows that as long as you are a famous athlete and are charismatic, the public will forgive you for anything, or at least significantly downplay or compartmentalize your crimes. This can explain how Mike Tyson, a great boxer but a rapist who was convicted and sentenced, was redeemed in the eyes of the public and the entertainment industry at large, finding work after his boxing career ended, but others merely accused of misconduct, as part of #metoo, saw their careers irreparably destroyed. Or who confessed to far less serious matters (e.g. ‘indecent exposure’ in the case of Louis C.K.).

There is also a sort of implied infantilism in which certain individuals cannot be held as fully accountable or cognizant of their actions or behaviors. This works in the favor of those presumed to be less intelligent, and can explain why decades later Enron is still not a joking matter, and neither are the crimes of Madoff or SBF. Or why there are many advocacy groups to lessen the sentences for violent or habitual 3-strikes offenders, but none for white-collar criminals [0]. For O.J., it was an aw-shucks lapse of judgement moment. Who hasn’t ever been in a situation where their celebrity career has been derailed by a sudden fit of rage to kill someone out of jealousy and had the impertinence to have acted out on that desire.

[0] except for perhaps Ross Ulbricht, who has a lot of support online, although it’s not clear if he counts as a white collar criminal