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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Still on my mind

I watched Oprah again today (SHUT. UP.) because Christopher Darden was on for the first half hour. For those of you who had your head up your ass ten years ago, Christopher Darden was the Assistant District Attorney that ended up being assigned to a case that would change his life forever - the OJ Simpson trial. I grew up in Los Angeles. I don't go into that much because it was long ago and frankly I don't think of LA as my hometown. Let's retrace the steps, shall we?
I was back at my Dad's house on vacation with my boyfriend at the time, Joe. The murders had happened already and OJ was already a "person of interest." His prior assaults on his wife, Nicole, were well documented. I was driving with Joe back to my father's house and I noticed on the opposite side of the freeway that they were holding traffic back at all the on ramps. I thought it a tad weird, but frankly just let it go. It was LA, after all. Who the hell knew? I got home to find my father cursing at the tv - not because of what was unfolding on the screen before a national audience, but because the news media had the fucking audacity to interupt the NBA finals and the Nix were playing. Way to keep those priorities intact, Pop. Anyways, as we all know, OJ was in the now infamous Bronco in the slowest car speed chase in history. We were riveted - even with all the paternal cursing. I thought,
"Well, that's it, he did it and now we all know." How incredibly naive of me.
Well, we all know what happened - one of the worst travesties of justice in the last 50 years. Seeing Christopher Darden again brought it all back for me. It clearly has never left him. He is still so clearly affected by what this all brought him, took from him, and how this trial and verdict changed his life. He was called an "Uncle Tom", was ostracized from the black community, and villified in the legal community. I never understood the rationale of that jury. Did they think they were righting some legal wrong from years ago? From the lynchings? From slavery? WHAT? I did not understand. Mr. Darden discussed that today - the way he did not understand their view point either and that if they were trying to correct some horrible crime from years ago, they obviously picked a horrible symbol to use. OJ Simpson was no more a symbol of racial inequality than I am. The man has lived a very privledged life - and continues to do so. I am not saying that he has never been subjected to prejudice in his life - I'm quite certain he has, but to raise him up on to some pedastal as a martyr is a joke, people. He was allowed to murder the mother of his children and a man who simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time. That brings us to his kids. How on EARTH are they supposed to reconcile what they see with what they hear as far as their father is concerned? How can they look at him and not think of their mother? How can they not doubt him? These kids must be somewhere near college age now. I am certain they have taken it upon themselves to learn as much as they can about their mother and her demise. What if they discover what we already know? How will that affect them?
There are some events that forever change your beliefs in yourself and your world. In 1995, I was a senior in college and still maintained an incredibly idealistic view of the world. This verdict crippled my faith. The same way the police officers who beat Rodney King forever tainted my view of police officers everywhere. I remember this time as being the beginning of the end of my rose colored glasses life. It was the end of me always assuming that people would do the right thing if given a choice. It was the beginning of creating the person that I am today - somewhat cynical, somewhat jaded, clumsily grasping on what hopes I have for this world. I miss the girl I was then. She had way more optimism than I currently have. The ripple effect of that one day is staggering.

Elizabeth at 7:45 PM



at 10:23 PM Blogger Football Widow said...

What a great post. I am sitting here kind of speechless. I remember watching the chase too. I was younger than you but it didn't have the same effect on me. Now I sit here questiong why. Maybe I shouldn't be so shallow all the time. I don't know. Speechless.

at 10:57 PM Blogger hellokittn said...

I remember the chase. My dad ran to the vcr and started taping it immediately.

Mom and Dad taped every feature on OJ on CNN as well as all of the court footage aired.

They were absolutely obsessed with that trial.

Awesome recollection girlfriend!

at 8:57 AM Blogger hemlock said...

I don't remember the chase very well, but I was in high school when the verdict came through.

Over the PA system in my school, they announced that he was innocent. I couldn't believe that they felt the need to announce that in a school during classes.

It was a weird case.

at 11:09 AM Blogger dashababy said...

Whoa, my eyes!!! The white text on black is a killer for me. I'm trying to adjust now. :)
I'm sorry I missed Oprah that day. I must start taping her. She does have some really good shows. My mom watched it that day and told me how good it was and a little bit about it. This was an awful example of our justice system. It isn't perfect to say the least but I am surprised that OJ still walks this earth. I though someone would've taken him out along time ago.
You have to know that his kids know what happened. I would think that they have some contact with their mothers' family?? Wouldn't they? I don't know. But the hatred her family has for him, how can that be contained and hidden from those kids?
Yeah, I followed this case and was sadly, horrified at the verdict.
I was at a pizza parlor watching the chase scene and thought for sure he would pay for his crime. How guilty did this make him look?
At least he was found guilty in the civil trial. What ever good that did, I don't know.

at 4:43 PM Blogger razorbeck said...

I disagree completely, I would say the preosecutuion proved that in all likely hood he committed the crime but that is not the standard. the satandard is reasonable doubt and his defense did an excelent job proving reasonable doubt. I am not saying he is innocent just that the prosecution failed to prove their case

at 5:01 PM Blogger Southern Fried Girl said...

I am well aware of what the standard is when trying to prove or disprove a crime. My point was that he did it, the jurors more than likely knew he did it and he walked anyway all because he had the money to hire a media circus to be his defense counsel.

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