Sunday, September 02, 2007

If OJ did it

I wasn't going to buy Simpson's book when it looked like the profits might go to him, but now that it's being published so as to pay off the civil judgment owed to the family of Ron Goldman . . . I'm still not going to buy it. According to this review on Slate, the book contains a couple of perfunctory reminders that it's supposed to be a hypothetical story, some gory details, and a lengthy diatribe by Simpson against his dead ex-wife. One would think that whatever anger OJ harbored towards Nicole would have been expurgated by murdering her, but apparently not. Oh, and apparently the graphic design of the cover is different from the one originally slated for the OJ version. The new cover significantly downplays the "If" (placing it barely visibly inside the "I").



The real question is an ethical one. Assuming, per the Slate review, that the book would count as defamatory of Nicole were it not legally impossible to defame the dead, is it right for the Goldman family to publish it? Their position strikes me as a bit like that of the states after the tobacco settlement; the more cigarettes sold, the more their revenues. But the states at least had the excuse that the disgorgement of some profits from cigarette sales acted as a Pigovian tax. There's no social benefit from people reading Simpson's book.

I don't want to come down too hard on the Goldman family. There's not much that Simpson can lawfully do to earn the millions of dollars he owes them. It's not as if he's going to get work as an actor starring in "The Naked Gun 9/11" or make a comeback as an NFL running back at the age of 60. Still, perhaps the right thing for the Goldman family to do is to walk away from this project. I mean, suppose Simpson had made a snuff film of the murders. Would there be nothing wrong with trying to satisfy the judgment from sales of tickets to that? How different is a verbal description?

Happy Labor Day.

9 comments:

Neil H. Buchanan said...

I agree with Mike's post. In addition, I'm not sure that there's even much merit to the claim that the Goldmans need to pursue any reasonable avenue to collect an otherwise uncollectible debt from Simpson. As I understand it, the point of the Goldmans' civil suit was never to increase their own net worth but to get a jury to say that Simpson did it and to make sure that Simpson spends the rest of his life as miserable as possible. They've succeeded on both scores, and in fact the publication of the book might even increase the likelihood that Simpson will one day be free and clear of the civil judgment. If the Goldmans don't actually need the money, publishing the book makes no sense at all.

Tam said...

This reminds me of George Orwell's essay, "Why I Write," in which he identified four motivations for writing: (1) sheer egoism; (2) aesthetic enthusiasm; (3) historical impulse; and (4) political purpose.

Even putting aside the perversity of factors (1) and (3) here, it seems clear, from the Slate review, that OJ's political purpose is essentially to explain why Nicole deserved to be murdered. I think that makes the publication of the book - even if it's by the family of a co-victim -m ore than just a matter of poor taste.

Carl said...

Perhaps the Goldmans take some comfort in Simpson's thinly veiled confession to the murder of their son. Even Simpson's most ardent defenders can hardly deny now that he is a vicious murderer.

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