In the early 1990s, the O.J. Simpson murder trial garnered national and international attention partial due to the sensational nature of the double homicide. The media frenzy surrounding this case seemed relentless, and the public's appetite for details was insatiable. The so-called trial of the century became a media circus.
In retrospect, one might assume the heightened interest in the O.J. Simpson story was due to the involvement of the famous former athlete. However, it seems the media was overly enamored with the story of Orenthal James Simpson and neglected to focus on the plight of the victims of these grisly murders and their families. Moreover, there are other societal issues which should have contributed to the national discourse regarding this case.
The issue of domestic violence, for example, must be discussed with new vigor following revelations that O.J. Simpson was once convicted of spousal battery, given a lenient sentence and no jail time. The fact that the former jock served no time in jail demonstrates the court system's failure to protect abused women.
Are we, as Americans, so obsessed with sports stars that we will overlook domestic violence and vicious attacks on women? Is sports celebrity more important than women's right to safety and security? Which of the following statistics and facts are more important to the public?
1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
Women ages 18 to 34 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
More than 4 million women experience physical assault and rape by their partners.
1 in 3 female homicide victims are murdered by their current or former partner every year.
The media ignores these critical domestic violence statistics, however, media outlets regularly hype sports statistics and lionize adrenaline-fueled, aggressive athletes.
What about the terror and pain suffered by women such as the late Nicole Brown Simpson? Wasn't Nicole Simpson, who raised two children in spite of violence, the real hero? Unless the media probes the perspectives of the violence victims, serious discussion about spousal abuse and domestic violence is not likely to occur.
Over 20 years ago, when the media broadcast O.J. Simpson fleeing police in the white colored Ford Bronco, I hope people began to cry and weep for Nicole Brown Simpson and the other victims of domestic abuse. It must be remembered that sports are just recreational games involving athletes; whereas, spousal abuse is a serious and dangerous real life issue disproportionately affecting women.
In order to remedy this situation, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball should establish a joint entity called "American Sports Organization for the Protection of Women". This new organization can provide financial support for women attempting to escape spousal abuse. It's time to protect women and end this unfair double standard before it's too late. Anyone experiencing domestic violence can call for help at 1.800.621.HOPE (4673).
Domestic violence statistics courtesy of safehorizon.
O.J. Simpson football statistics courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
O.J. Simpson domestic violence case involving Nicole Brown Simpson via The New York Times.
Mark Charles Hardie, an attorney at law, has created an organization called "A Trillion Points of Light" to promote women's rights, social justice, and fairness. He is a member of the National Organization for Women. Mr. Hardie is a California-based political candidate who graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and the University of California, Riverside.