Letters to the Editor
Posted Dec. 8, 2006

Dear Editor,

It is somewhat unusual even today to find an editorial praising and endorsing censorship, but apparently that is just what your editorial on the cancellation of O.J. Simpson’s book has in mind (“Confessions of a ‘hypothetical’ killer,” Dec. 1). You write that the book “had horrible written all over it” – did you reach this conclusion after reading it, or from descriptions in other media (also from people who hadn’t read it)? You point out that it was pulled from publication (self-censored by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.!) because of “bad publicity and public outcry” – is this the standard for deciding whether a publication should be censored?

You apparently applaud this because you accept the vague claims that the book was to be a “confession.” Simpson, who has proclaimed his innocence from the beginning, said it was not a confession simply because he didn’t commit the murders. You also say that the book was apparently to contain “upsetting descriptions of the murder,” apparently “pushed the envelope too far,” and of course the standard “we all think that he did it,” – are these justifications for censorship?

Despite the belief by most Americans (or at least most white Americans) that Simpson was the killer, the evidence does not clearly support that conclusion - in fact much of the evidence showed signs of police tampering (if not worse), and the timelines in the case indicate that it is very unlikely that Simpson could have done it alone. As for the “beliefs” that most people have about the case, these beliefs are also typical in the hundreds of cases in which innocent people have been cleared by subsequent investigation (usually not by police, sometimes by journalists!) or by DNA evidence.

It is bad enough that much of our media is succumbing to planted “news” stories from government and corporations – it does not help the media’s credibility when censorship is also embraced.

Ernie Thomson
Associate Professor of Sociology/Criminology

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