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O. J. Simpson Case: Myths and Postmodernism Essay

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Updated: Sep 23rd, 2022

O. J. Simpson trial was widely publicized and highly controversial. One of the issues that it raised among researchers was the emergence of myths about the criminal justice that can affect the justice system. Another important aspect of the trial is its postmodern nature which provoked a discussion about the relevancy of existing criminal justice theories to the postmodern world.

O. J. Simpson, an American football player and popular actor, was accused of murdering his ex-wife and her friend in her house in 1994. The investigation and the trial were widely covered in media and provoked an active discussion on different levels of the society. According to the decision of the jury, Simpson was pronounced innocent and released despite the evidence of his crime that was deemed by many rather convincing (Jimenez, 2014). Later, however, Simpson was found responsible for the two deaths. The case drew much attention of researchers who addressed the issues of myths associated with the case and analyzed it from the perspective of criminal justice theories.

Fist of all, the O. J. Simpson case shaped certain myths about the criminal justice system. Particularly, the widespread idea that he had been acquitted by mistake created the concept of positive discrimination. Positive discrimination is about whitewashing someone’s action, protecting him or her, or mitigating their punishments for illegal activities due to the person’s race, religion, or ethnicity. Many people in the United States after the Simpson trial believed that the justice system practiced such discrimination (Simon, 2015). These people thought that O. J. Simpson had been acquitted because of the pressure of his lawyers and the African-American community who had claimed that Simpson had been unjustly prosecuted because of his race. A way to dispel the myth and ensure that it does not affect the criminal justice system is to communicate to the public the actualities of certain controversial cases. Effective communication and transparency of trials will help build the trust in the justice system.

An important perspective on such myths, strategies to dispel them, and their impact on the society and the justice system is the perspective of the postmodern world (Brown, 2011). The Simpson trial featured the active involvement of media. Analyzing how the case was covered and represented by mass media and then perceived and interpreted by the public can help understand the postmodern and postindustrial framework of justice. The process of communication in the postmodern world is complicated. Along with broadening the channels of information and increasing its amount, it provides more space for distortion, manipulation, and misunderstanding.

Postmodern criminal justice trends resist being put into certain theoretical frames because they unfold too rapidly and with the involvement of too many parties (Simon, 2015). Existing theories of criminal justice fail to work in the postmodern-world cases because the role of media and the community feedback is more significant now than it has ever been before. There is an ongoing debate on whether existing theories of criminal justice can be adjusted and modified to apply to the postmodern world or new ones should be created to address the unique characteristics of criminal justice today. Although there is no agreement among specialists and researchers, the most widespread view is that criminal justice theories should be combined with the theoretical achievements of other areas of knowledge, particularly sociology and communication studies. Incorporating the theories of community processes and communication into the theoretical understanding of justice can help create theoretical approaches to criminal justice that are more viable today than old ones.

References

Brown, S. (2011). Media/crime/millennium: Where are we now? A reflective review of research and theory directions in the 21st century. Sociology Compass, 5(6), 413-425.

Jimenez, M. A. (2014). Media review: Television deconstructing the OJ Simpson trial. Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping, 1(3), 68-69.

Simon, J. (2015). From a tight place: Crime, punishment, and American liberalism. Yale Law & Policy Review, 17(2), 853-876.

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