Cynicism can make us get a grip

March 19, 1997|By GREGORY KANE

Al "Blanco" Weiss of Glen Burnie had a point to make about the suspect in the Ennis Cosby slaying, and sent in his view via postcard.

"In the interest of racial harmony, justice and fair play, I think that a white L.A. jury should find the white Russian killer of Ennis Cosby not guilty. O.J. would then be vindicated. Have a good day."

Do I detect a bit of cynicism in your remarks, Blanco me boy? A touch of sarcasm, perhaps? You certainly didn't intend this to be a measured, reasoned, logical response to that ever-touchy subject of the verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial, did you?

Weiss' comment brings several thoughts to mind about a subject on which little thinking has been done. The gist of Weiss' suggestion is that the verdict in the Simpson criminal trial was a racial one, in which a jury of horrible, dreadful Negroes found O.J. not guilty because of racial reasons. (Actually, there were 10 blacks on the jury. A white juror and a Hispanic juror apparently weren't any more impressed with the prosecution's case than the black jurors were.)

Let's all try to get a grip, shall we, and recall the economic factors in the Simpson case? O.J. virtually bought his not guilty verdict because he was rich enough to hire attorneys who made mincemeat of prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden. Had he been Joe Schnook from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., making about 20 grand a year, he'd be on death row pleading for his life if he were guilty or not.

Weiss' postcard may or may not have been written in the spirit of cynicism. (And let's face it, if the verdict in the Simpson criminal trial didn't make you a cynic, nothing will.) But sometimes cynics force us to face tough questions, which Weiss' postcard certainly does.

About Weiss' phrase "the white Russian killer." I'm not sure the press should have identified the suspect's ethnicity. It tells us little and taints the entire Russian immigrant community. There are supposed to be rules in journalism about identifying the race and ethnicity of suspects. Sometimes we follow them; sometimes we don't.

And let's not forget that we don't know if this man is, in fact, a killer. We have heard not one iota of evidence or heard any defense the suspect may have in this case. As much as we'd like to toss it out the window, there is still a thing called "presumption of innocence" in this country.

If an all-white jury acquits the Russian immigrant suspect, "O.J. would be vindicated," Weiss writes. Let me see if I get this straight. The Cosby family has to suffer because of the perceived sins of the jurors in the Simpson criminal case?

It's apparent from Weiss' comments that there are some whites who view the Simpson criminal trial verdict as the injustice of the century. It's quite the pity those who believe that don't feel the same about the Philip Woldemariam case.

Have you heard of Philip Woldemariam? Of course you haven't. He is one of those homicide victims that America has concluded are less dead than the victims in the Simpson case, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. And when you're less dead, there's less outrage about your death.

But Woldemariam was killed less than a year before Nicole Simpson and Goldman. A celebrity was charged with murder. Within four months after O.J. Simpson was acquitted, the celebrity accused of slaying Woldemariam also was acquitted. That celebrity was rap star Snoop Doggy Dogg.

There were no screams of outrage from white Americans when Snoop was acquitted. Of course, there were no celebrations from black Americans, either. The Snoop trial was ignored by both races. It didn't give us heroes or villains. Besides, it had no sex appeal. It was an open-and-shut case: Snoop drives a car, one of his friends shoots Woldemariam in a park. Snoop pleads self-defense and is acquitted. End of case.

The Simpson case, on the other hand, had tons of sex appeal. There was that black man/white woman thing, still considered taboo. There were the tales of marital infidelity, the tapes of O.J. screaming at Nicole about her performing a sex act with another man while their children were in the next room, the stories about domestic violence.

Let's come clean, Americans. The O.J. Simpson criminal and civil trials obsessed us because we all wanted to get a peek at the private and sordid lives of this couple. We didn't give a tinker's damn about justice. If we did, there would have been more than silent mumbling when Snoop Doggy Dogg walked away from the courtroom a free man after the verdict was handed down in the Woldemariam case.

Pub Date: 3/19/97

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