BOSTON (CBS) – Do you believe in mercy, and forgiveness for sinners, no matter how egregious the sin?
Here’s a story that may test the boundaries of your compassion.
O.J. Simpson appears before a Nevada parole board Thursday seeking an end to his 33-year sentence for various crimes in an ill-advised 2008 effort to retrieve sports memorabilia that Simpson claimed was his. And while there was ample evidence to convict Simpson in that case, the impression persists that the verdict was at least in part rough justice for O.J. beating the rap in the infamous 1994 murders of his ex-wife and her friend.
If you weren’t around then or aren’t old enough to remember, I recommend the recent award-winning documentary, “OJ: Made In America.” It sets the case in its context of a racially-charged time when many African-Americans wanted payback for the acquittals of the white policemen who beat up black suspect Rodney King in an incident caught on tape. And it recalls how reaction to Simpson’s acquittal divided sharply along color lines, a harsh reminder of the persistent racial discord afflicting our country.
But the unfairness of Simpson’s 1994 acquittal or his 2008 conviction is outstripped by the spectacle of O.J., who embraced his race-based support after years of dismissing race as a factor in his life and rejecting any involvement in the civil rights movement.
For O.J. Simpson, there will never be parole from his legacy of guilt and betrayal.
How ironic that he went to prison out of desperation to reclaim the tokens of his long-gone glory. Release by the parole board may be more an act of pity, than one of mercy.