Bill Maher: Black Community's O.J. Acquittal Reaction Was 'Payback'

Bill Maher revisits the complex O.J. Simpson trial.

by Nouman Rasool
Bill Maher: Black Community's O.J. Acquittal Reaction Was 'Payback'
© Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Bill Maher, a figure well-known for his provocative commentary, recently revisited the 1995 acquittal of O.J. Simpson.The presenter had earlier joked that Simpson might be able to take out a hitman but stopped short of branding him a murderer.

He also had Simpson as a guest on his show, "Real Time with Bill Maher." In one of the captivating interviews, Maher joined British broadcaster Piers Morgan to discuss the highly contentious decision to acquit Simpson of murder charges in relation to his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

It makes their conversation turn from bittersweet to trying to make sense of the complicated feelings the public has, especially now that Simpson has died of cancer.Morgan expressed his perplexity over the acceptance of Simpson's likely guilt coupled with a sense of victory over the justice system, labeling the verdict a "travesty of justice."

Deeper Racial Contexts

However, Maher offered a different perspective, suggesting that the Black community's support for Simpson wasn't just about the man himself but was deeply rooted in a historical context of systemic racial injustices.

"I think Black folks knew very well that he did it, and I don’t blame them one bit for cheering him on," Maher stated, implying that the acquittal symbolized a broader challenge to an often unfair system. Highlighting the enduring racial tensions, Maher referenced the insights of Charles J.

Ogletree Jr., a Harvard Law School professor, who in 2005 noted to PBS's Frontline that Simpson was embraced not as a sports hero, but as a symbol of racial injustice within the criminal justice system. This view regarded Simpson's acquittal as compensation for all the injustices suffered for hundreds of years by African Americans.

Maher was unfazed, even pointing to the troubled past of Simpson, who had pleaded no contest to spousal abuse in 1989. He did raise some important issues that, however, needed to be taken in the broader perspective of the outcome of the trial.

This was about the racial divide of the country, from deep-set roots that presented a conflicting view of justice. "You can’t have two different complete histories in America and then expect people to have the same reaction to something like that," Maher argued, pointing to the disconnect between the reactions across racial lines.

The segment also touched on the incontrovertible evidence of Simpson's guilt as agreed upon by both hosts. Maher pointedly remarked, "Of course he did it! There’s no doubt that he did it. Piers, her blood was in his sock." He reflected on the long-term impact of America's racial history, stating, "Because the legacy of our despicable racial past doesn’t go away in a generation.

It takes a very long time." This acknowledgment serves as a reminder of the complex layers of race, justice, and public perception that continue to influence America today.