Here we are again, riveted by a certain washed up, narcissistic ex-football star and what he might or might not have done. Did he or didn't he, this time, commit armed robbery to recoup sports memorabilia from a Las Vegas hotel room? The last time he hogged so much limelight the question was, did he or didn't he commit the double murder of his ex-wife and her friend? The answer to the latter question may be deduced from O.J. Simpson's abortive literary attempt of last November, the ghostwritten opus "If I Did It."
The book — a surreal, first-person take on how he might have nearly decapitated his ex-wife and hacked Ron Goldman to death — caused widespread public revulsion, leading the publisher to destroy all copies but one.
Now, almost a year later, the book is being reissued (with a new subtitle, "Confessions of the Killer"), this time as the property of the Goldman family. The victim's father, Fred Goldman, has justified republishing it as a way to draw attention to the issue of abuse.
If only one woman would read it and be moved to get out of an abusive relationship, he pleaded on "Oprah," that would make the effort worthwhile.
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But as the talk shows began heating up with round two of the debate about the book, Simpson re-emerged, this time in an armed robbery caper in Las Vegas. And, once again, the media's fascination with celebrity took center stage. Remember how the bloody glove, the tainted evidence, the racist cop and the "dream team" of attorneys all managed to outshine the domestic abuse story behind the Simpson-Goldman murders? That should not be allowed to happen again.
In January, Newsweek obtained and outlined a critical chapter of "If I Did It," describing its prose as "the classic language of a wife abuser." In it, Simpson describes a seeming obsession with his ex-wife and his distaste for her new sexual encounters with other men (he betrays this jealousy when he concludes she is entangled with Goldman because her dog greeted him with a friendly wag of the tail).
The grim Simpson saga is a primer on the sick patterns of abuse in far too many relationships — the push and pull women feel when trapped with a violent husband or boyfriend. All the classic elements are there: The abused woman's desperate hope that the situation will get better, if only....
The endless lists of things she believes she needs to change, as she lives on pins and needles trying to anticipate what might trigger her man's next rage.
The twisted feeling that somehow she deserves the abuse, both verbal and physical.
The fact that women valued by general society as "beautiful" often have the lowest self-esteem.
On the abuser's part, the controlling double standard that the victim is to blame for seeking attention elsewhere, when in fact it is he who has been sleeping around.
Such details did become public during the Simpson murder trial.
Jurors heard a 9-1-1 tape of Brown Simpson describing her ex-husband breaking down her back door in 1993 and entering her home: "I don't want to stay on the line. He's going to beat the s— out of me." At one point in the tape, the dispatcher asked what the raving ex is saying. Brown Simpson explains he is claiming, "...it's all my fault and now what am I going to do, get the police in this and the whole thing. It's all my fault, I started this before."
It's possible that an abused woman may recognize her own predicament in the pages of "If I Did It," and that may prod her to get help.
But the best way to protect women from such relationships is to prevent them from happening in the first place. The work has to be done when women are still girls, by ingraining beliefs about themselves and what they deserve in life. Fathers, especially, have a unique power to teach their daughters that they are special and worthwhile.
The new rounds of news coverage, extensive as they are, reveal little more about O.J. Simpson than we already knew - he is pathologically violent and has sapped far too much public attention. With luck and good detective work, a conviction just might usher him out of public view for good.
There are better things to focus on, like raising healthy young boys and girls.
Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star.
McCLATCHY TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE