Is anybody else watching “The People v OJ Simpson”? It’s really well done and does a great job of showing how crucial the context was to that circus of a trial. Coming so soon after the Los Angeles riots, it was obvious the trial was going to be hugely influenced by those (then) recent events. What I find fascinating, is how Justice in a court is anything but. It’s about the money, and the power, and who “can tell the better story”. Never mind about evidence, never mind what’s “fair” or “real”, what matters is which side is clever enough to win. The Sophists of Ancient Greece would be proud of their legacy. What did the Sophists do according to Plato? Make a weaker argument overcome a stronger argument by means of clever rhetoric. Aristotle and Plato’s influence have led us to the meaning of Sophistry nowadays: the term has come to signify the deliberate use of fallacious reasoning, intellectual charlatanism and moral unscrupulousness. It is of course a bit of a generalisation and not exactly accurate. Still, it is a fact that tribunals and courts have seen their fair share of “Sophists” over the centuries.
O.J. should have been convicted, I don’t think there are many people who still doubt he was guilty. Yet, he was acquitted, the trial was a media circus and conducted in a manner that, to this day, is an utter embarrassment. All due to context, the “race card” that played such an important role in both camps, and the fact his lawyers were obviously well-versed in “Sophistry.” Plato would have had a field day with this story if only he’d been able to witness it.
Image credit: Hollywoodreporter.com