OJ Simpson
OJ Simpson

The 1994 acquittal of OJ Simpson for the murder of his wife, Nicole, and Ron Goldman set the stage for today’s widespread acceptance of conspiratorial thinking, according to a smart essay that ran in The Economist.

The techniques deployed by OJ’s defense team were a harbinger of those used by Donald Trump.

According to the Economist: OJ’s lawyers urged the jurors, of which three-quarters were Black, “to disregard the facts—Simpson’s blood was found at the crime scene, both victims’ blood were found in his car and in his house—and back the group they identify with.

“Just as Mr Trump has persuaded his supporters that all the criminal charges against him are cooked up by malign Democrats, so Simpson’s lawyers invited the jurors to imagine a nebulous conspiracy perpetrated by an institution they distrusted—the police.

“Someone else committed the murders and racist cops planted evidence to incriminate Simpson. They suggested.”

Johnnie Cochran, OJ’s lawyer, fanned incendiary, them vs. us rhetoric. He likened police officer Mark Furman to Adolf Hitler, saying that Hitler came to power because people didn’t try to stop him, and that it was up to the jury to stand up against the cops before it was too late.

Robert Shapiro, Simpson’s co-counsel, later admitted that his team not only played the race card but dealt from the lower deck.

The Economist’s conclusion: “The lesson from the Simpson trial is that skillful demagogues can win over a big chunk of the public by inflaming divisions and ‘flooding the zone with shit’ as a Trump advisor put it, it has been well learned.”

Post-Pandemic Blues…Brutal debates over the origins of COVID-19, pushback against prevention guidelines, the crucification of Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the promotion of of quack cures (e.g., injecting bleach) explain why people worry about the politicization of medical science just as much as another pandemic.

The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust and Health found that 64 percent of respondents fret about politicization, while 63 percent fear another outbreak.

And technology is not viewed as a boost to healthcare. Sixty-three percent of Americans believe technology will worsen healthcare via compromised privacy, increased costs and unforeseen issues.

Record-Shattering Performance….The American Library Association reports there were 4,240 titles targeted for censorship in 2023, a 65 percent increase from 2022. The past year set the all-time record for book bans.

Florida (2,672 titles were challenged) and Texas (1,470) led the censorship charge that wasn’t only confined to red states. Connecticut, Wisconsin, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Illinois and Maryland each had more than 100 titles under censorship attack.

The ALA launched its “Unite Against Book Bans” program to fight censorship.

“Each demand to ban a book is a demand to deny each person’s constitutionally protected right to choose and read books that raise important issues and lift up the voices of those who are often silenced,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.