Nov 212006

O.J. Simpson says he was legally muzzled. But the really good news about the cancellation of his book and TV special is that this isn’t true.

It wasn’t the legal system or any other government action that did it. It wasn’t congressional hearings in which smarmy politicians threaten to pass laws. (Who could have stomached another such spectacle as when they inserted themselves into the baseball steroid scandal?)

It was social pressure — the threat of boycotts, Bill O’Reilly’s loud objections, the denunciations from newspaper editors, and the affiliates who refused to carry it. (In short it’s the behavior we should have gotten from the media back when the Clintons were stonewalling the legal system.)

I’ve long held that boycotts and the threat of boycotts are an underutilized tool for social change. In the past, whenever I’ve brought up the possibility, It’s usually libertarians, of all people, who’ve objected the loudest.

But governments can’t and shouldn’t do everything. We as a society need to govern ourselves, and this is incident shows how it can be done.

It’s interesting that it happened on the same day as this article about “controlled chaos” European Cities Do Away with Traffic Signs

“The many rules strip us of the most important thing: the ability to be considerate. We’re losing our capacity for socially responsible behavior,” says Dutch traffic guru Hans Monderman, one of the project’s co-founders. “The greater the number of prescriptions, the more people’s sense of personal responsibility dwindles.”

What we had in the O.J. cancellation was an increase in our capacity for socially responsible behavior.