O.J.’s event mocksvictims of violence

O.J. Simpson will host a fund-raising event Thursday night at his Brentwood, Calif., estate for the Stop the Violence-Increase the Peace Foundation, a group that works to prevent spousal abuse and other forms of violence. This is ironic, considering that in 1989 Simpson pleaded no contest to domestic abuse of his then-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. And Simpson is still in civil court, defending himself against the wrongful-death lawsuits brought by the families of his slain ex-wife and Ronald Goldman. Not only is this fund-raising event ironic, it’s tragic.
The Stop the Violence-Increase the Peace Foundation is a nonprofit group that was formed after the 1992 riots in Los Angeles. The group is known for its role in brokering a gang truce in south-central Los Angeles and pressuring major toy retailers to stop selling toy guns that resemble real ones. Last fall, after Simpson’s acquittal, the group helped kick off a year-long campaign against all kinds of violence by releasing balloons with the names of more than 100 murder victims — including Nicole Brown Simpson.
Simpson approached the Los Angeles-based foundation with an offer to help raise money for an upcoming “Violence Awareness Run.” According to a one-page press release, the retired football star sent about 500 invitations to a “very select group of press and celebrities” and suggested donations between $100 and $10,000 per plate.
The foundation has done admirable work, but by accepting Simpson’s invitation it made a horrible mistake. It allowed itself to be used by Simpson for his own public relations purposes. It sacrificed its integrity by accepting Simpson, of all people, as an advocate against domestic violence.
Simpson has bills to pay and knows he must repair his public image. Recent attempts to erase the after-effects of his sensational double-murder trial include a European public relations tour and the release of a video in which he tries to explain his innocence. But by hosting this dinner, Simpson is mocking a very important cause in order to mend his almost irreparable nice-guy image.
Regardless of Simpson’s guilt or innocence in the murder of his wife and her friend, facts raised in the so-called “Trial of the Century” highlighted his record as an abuser. Simpson’s history was overlooked by the group. Foundation president Khalid Shah responded to criticism of the unlikely partnership, saying, “I don’t think there is anyone who is beyond reproach, who doesn’t have any skeletons in their closet.”
That may be true, but few of us have set the poor public example of Simpson. The Stop the Violence-Increase the Peace Foundation turned its back on Simpson’s abusive past because it wanted the money and the publicity he brings. But for the sake of Nicole Brown Simpson and all victims of domestic violence, it should have told him to take a hike.