*As I was watching the O.J. Simpson parole hearing, I couldn’t help but think of how life can take unexpected turns. Since 1994, we have watched a superstar – a man who was on top of the world – fall from grace in rapid fashion. We all know the story of his trial in the murders of his wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
He was acquitted in that trial. About 10 years later, he wasn’t so lucky when the state of Nevada convicted him in a robbery case for which he was given a harsh 33-year sentence. This is his second parole hearing. I’m sure the cumulative incidents of the last 23 years have given him much to reflect upon.
[Note: In my opinion, O.J.’s performance was disappointing. I think he should have kept his answers to a minimum. He did not demonstrate humility as one should in his position. Perhaps his attorney Malcolm LaVergne could have done better prepping. His daughter Arnelle Simpson and friend Bruce Fromong did better on O.J.’s behalf. Update: By God’s grace, at 11:54 AM PST, the panel unanimously granted parole.]
Now back to my story. In the biblical story of Joseph, his plight was just the opposite. He was betrayed by his brothers; sold into slavery; falsely accused of rape; and ultimately sent to prison where he was a model inmate. As a result, by God’s grace Joseph was promoted to second in command in the land of Egypt. This story is often referred to as an encouragement to those who feel life dealt them a bad hand. In the end, he realized that the “evil” God empowered him to endure was meant for good.
In a way, O.J.’s story could very well have a similar effect. Reports that he was a spotless, model inmate for nine years at the Lovelock Correctional Center, and having time to appreciate for himself the value of education, he used his influence to help other inmates see the same. His attorney read a letter that O.J. wrote to Nevada Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo, using his clout to selflessly request educational funding and supplies for inmates. He said, “I can think of no better use of state funds.” This could be pivotal in drawing attention to prison rehabilitation effectiveness, and a way to help reduce the high recidivism rate – repeat offenders who end up back in prison after release. O.J. also speaks to the plight of many men of color who think they can – in terms of lifestyle – “get away with murder” with no consequence. This is a plight for all the so-called high-flying celebrities to ponder.
Congratulations on today’s parole hearing decision O.J.! Now that you’ve unofficially undertaken a new cause for those who are not as empowered, hopefully you will continue to use your celebrity to be a voice for those who have none. Perhaps this could be your new vocation.
Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. Author of “Things Are Getting’ Outta Hand” (Amazon). E-mail: [email protected]