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Does OJ Really Matter?

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Once again, O.J. Simpson is dominating the U.S. mainstream media, this time for allegedly breaking into a Las Vegas hotel room with some friends armed with handgun(s). Why? Well, allegedly, to recover some O.J. memorabilia that he believed were rightfully his. Um, like he believed Nicole was rightfully his, even after the divorce? Oh, never mind. I don't care. At least, I mean, I shouldn't care. I shouldn't give a damn about O.J., just like I shouldn't give a damn about Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. Neither should you. But even when we make an honest effort to avoid the junk TV, even when we force ourselves to watch only the cable news channels, hoping to witness some relevant developments of the day, hoping to actually learn something, what do we see? We see O.J.'s mug shot. I guess it's supposed to get us excited. Draw us in. Mmmmmm, scandal. Juicy, embarrassing, life-altering scandal. Someone getting caught, like you're sure you never will be. We see Marcia Clark, one of the prosecutors in the original O.J. trial for Nicole's murder, suggesting that we should have listened to her back in the '90s. We see Larry King discussing O.J.'s latest adventures with Kato Kaelin, as if Kato can offer any insight into O.J.'s psyche in this particular century. And more. La-de-duh. Emphasis on the "duh". Meantime, George W. Bush is tapping your phone calls without a court warrant, American soldiers are dying in Iraq (along with even more innocent Iraqi men, women, and babies), the polar ice caps are melting fast, 47 million Americans do not have health insurance, and Dick Cheney is itching for a war with Iran. So, all things considered: Should we -- or rather, why do we -- care about O.J.? Or Britney? Or Paris? Does America really want only fluffy, mindless entertainment? Can America not handle the ugly truth of what's really going on in this country and around the world -- I mean the life/death stuff that really matters? Never mind. I suppose those questions are merely rhetorical ones. Unfortunately. -----
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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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