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Re: Fuhrman needed a digital pseudonym!

Timothy C. May writes:

I almost always agree with Tim.  This time I have to differ -- I think
his outrage at the course of the OJ trial has fogged his head.

> * This post is primarily about the role of pseudonyms, not the OJ trial or
> the testimony/tapes involving Mark Fuhrman.

Well, it's hard to see that from reading the rest of it.

> Before you folks jump on the "racist" Mark Fuhrman, think about the
> "surveillance state" issues. While it was not any government organization
> that taped Fuhrman's comments, there are some real issues involved in how
> deeply and how far back we want to "mine" comments made by people. Some
> real issues of privacy.

I don't see any "surveillance state" issue.  Fuhrman openly agreed to
speak to the screenwriter.  AFAIK, he had no reason to believe the
screenwriter wouldn't tell anyone else.  Nor should he have counted on
that anyway.  Any loss of credibility (or other penalty) he receives
is entirely deserved, IMO.

If he didn't want his words coming back to "haunt" him, he shouldn't
have spoken them, in this setting at least, whether they were sincere
or merely an attempt to puff himself up in her eyes.  Speaking as a
"consultant" (or whatever he imagined his relationship with the
screenwriter to be) isn't the same as speaking in confidence to your
best friend in a private setting anyway.

> Anyone in favor of heading off the "surveillance society" should be alarmed
> at this development. As tape recorders and video cameras proliferate,
> comments may be compiled, taken out of context, and used as evidence.

I am not alarmed in the least (by this development, anyway).  There's
no evidence that Fuhrman's comments are being taken out of context.
Fuhrman freely entered into the arrangement wherein his comments were
recorded.  Let's face it, the most likely explanation here is that
Fuhrman is a lying scumbag.

The fact that Fuhrman may be a lying scumbag doesn't make OJ any less
guilty.  However, it does throw a lot of suspicion on Fuhrman's
testimony.  OJ's entire defense has been based on the claim that
Fuhrman and other LAPD members lied and otherwise conspired in order
to frame him.  These tapes are clearly appropriate to that defense
whether you believe the defense a valid one or not.

> But have people given up the right to speak "for themselves" in private? If
> there is no solid evidence that Fuhrman actually committed any crimes, but
> only appeared to be puffing himself up, a la a Wambaugh wannabee, then why
> are his "racist" and "sexist" comments deemed so important as to have
> derailed the trial for the last couple of weeks?

The fact that Fuhrman's comments are racist or sexist are not the
point.  What is important is that he lied in court about having made
those statements.  If he or the prosecution believes that a case can
be made that Fuhrman was just puffing himself up, then they should try
to convince the jury of that.

> To be sure, there are valid trial issues:
> -- Did he misspeak, misremember, or lie when he said he had "never" used
> the word "nigger" in the past 10 years?

Yes, IMO, this is the important issue.  Anyone who dispenses racial
epithets with the ease he apparently displayed in the tapes is an
idiot to have made such a claim whether the tapes were puffery or not.

> -- If this is perjury, how does it affect other evidence? (I'm not a
> lawyer, but I grok from the comments on CNN that this has to do with
> whether his testimony was supportive of other evidence, "cumulative," and
> related issues.)

IANAL, but let me just say that if I were on the jury, I don't think
I'd believe a single word he'd said during the trial.  I think that
I would probably still believe him to be guilty, anyway, but it's hard
to be sure without having heard only what the jury has heard.

> -- Does this possible misspeaking, misremembering, or lying have anything
> to do with whether he planted the bloody glove?

I don't know.  I'm kinda amazed that Ito has said that other portions
of his taped words won't be used, such as those parts where he describes
manufacturing evidence against the accused.  That seems to me to be
clearly relevant, at least as relevant as his use of the n-word.

> Anyway, I am greatly disturbed by this "mining" of ancient comments, made
> to a screenwriter.

Not me.  A few weeks there was a thread concerning the use of
information by private "reputation" bureaus.  I can't find the thread
in the archives but I seem to recall you defending the right of
private entities to keep and distribute such information (my apologies
if this was someone else).  Anyway, to me, these tapes fall clearly in
the same domain.  This screenwriter isn't a government agency, the
information was freely given, and the screenwriter has every right to
offer it for whatever purpose she deems appropriate, for free or
for money (barring any agreements to the contrary, of which I have
heard nothing).

-- Jeff