The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 37.0°F | A Few Clouds

Simpson Verdict Proves Judicial System Ineffectual

Guest Column by Jeremy L. Warner '99

Shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday, the verdict in the O. J. Simpson trial was read. Every television channel carried non-stop coverage of the world-shattering event. Hordes of students and faculty gathered around every available TV at MIT to await the verdict. In less than four hours the jury found Simpson not guilty of all charges. These results show that the American legal system is corrupt, weak, and ineffectual.

Why consider scientific evidence to be important in the case? This is, after all, the 90s, where our celebrities are David Koresh and the Unabomber. In the midst of a scientific and intellectual revolution, it seems that our country is returning to the quagmire of medieval times, where might made right. Indeed, this is exactly a case of might making right, with money and fame as might. The entire O. J. Simpson case is paradoxical: Almost everybody that I know firmly believes that he is a murderer. Yet if we say he is guilty we have indicted ourselves and our society as a whole.

Simpson is a hero in many ways, and the fall of a hero is a bitter pill to swallow. We have stood by as partial observers of democracy in motion, partial because we would never have tolerated such a farcical trial unless the accused had been someone of heroic proportions.

The outcome of this trial has undoubtedly surprised very few people. But I still felt a stab of fear as I listened to the verdicts being read into the American consciousness. To me, the verdict is an affirmation that society has a great disease - an affliction that will not just go away. Not only will it not go away, it will get worse. Simpson will not even receive a slap on the wrist. He is free to go, as he has done nothing, by the law. Will we find that this type of incident becomes a commonplace occurrence? Have we taken a step in the direction of Rome, where the emperors could have people they didn't like summarily executed?

I could call for a reformation of American society, but semantics are worthless now. Just because we see ourselves sliding down this hill of corruption and decay doesn't mean that we can do anything about it. Tuesday was a sad day for the future of America, and I must confess that I believe we have many more sad days ahead of us.

The only optimistic thing I can suggest is to take your life into your own hands. How can you trust a legal system that has proclaimed itself incompetent? It would be an exaggeration to say that this policy will result in unbridled anarchy. I believe that anarchy is not a necessary outcome of self-government. Responsibility for one's own actions brings pride, and with pride we can bolster our weak and failing country.

I sense great change coming for this country, and the verdict of the trial on Tuesday is a sort of gate, opening to devour our sensibilities and fictional hopes of a better tomorrow. We can only sit in front of our televisions and secretly hope that the fall will not come within the next few generations. Simpson should revel in the fact that he is not merely a token of history - he may be the straw that breaks the camel's back.