This week’s episode of The People vs. O.J. Simpson dives into the infamous Mark Fuhrman tapes (you can read more about the episode here). Fuhrman was the LAPD detective who found Simpson’s bloody glove at his house the night Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson were found murdered; by the end of the trial, he was better known as vehement racist. The tapes — recorded by aspiring screenwriter Laura Hart McKinny, on which Fuhrman brags about beating up black suspects and uses racial epithets dozens of times — allowed Simpson’s defense to suggest that Fuhrman planted evidence in order to frame their client.
Like basically everyone else involved in the trial, Fuhrman wrote a book about his experience. Murder in Brentwood was published in 1997, and it is truly a masterpiece of evasion. “I don’t want to sound as if I’m trying to justify what I said on those tapes,” he writes, in the middle of a chapter — nay, a whole book — in which he does just that. Behold, Mark Fuhrman in his own words.
On that crazy Laura chick:
“Laura sometimes sent me letters, which I guess could be described as love letters. She bought me gifts once in a while, but I never reciprocated. I just didn’t feel the same way.”
“Early into the screenplay project, I discovered that Laura was clueless when it came to policework, or the realities of violence and life on the street. She was extremely naïve and slightly eccentric.”
“I mentioned how the department had taken a tongue-in-cheek joke about a group called ‘Men Against Women’ and turned it into a serious investigation. She was interested in the concept, and I started fleshing out ideas based on a fictional group that made females’ lives in the department a living hell. I envisioned the film with a female role-model hero, several subplots, and lots of down and dirty action.”
Say, Mark, was this fact or fiction?
“I let my imagination run wild. Throughout the interviews, I was creating fictional situations, sometimes based loosely on true incidents.”
“When I was making up dialogue, I spoke in the first person. But these weren’t my own words, my own experiences, or my own sentiments. They were the words of fictional characters I had created based on my imagination and experience. I knew I had to exaggerate things to make the screenplay dramatic and commercially appealing…And since Laura and I sometimes drank wine while we had our recorded conversations, occasionally I got a little carried away. As I mentioned, Laura was extremely innocent, and I got a charge out of shocking her with some of the things that I said and making her laugh with others”
“When I testified in the Superior Court trial, I did not think about the tapes. Bailey asked me if I had ever used the ‘N’ word in addressing a person. I could truthfully answer that I had not. I never thought that screenplay notes and character dialogue could be misinterpreted as my own words.”
What’s so bad about the N-word, anyway?
“Johnnie Cochran deems the ‘N’ word as a term of affection. Here is a description of life in his law firm according to Lawrence Schiller: ‘In Cochran’s office, there were few whites…Words that shocked and offended white society were coin of the realm. “Nigger” and “motherfucker” were terms of affection.’ It appears Johnnie Cochran is offended by certain hateful words only when it suits his own self-interest.”
Mark Fuhrman: Braveheart
“After my court appearance, I was transferred to a hotel in the San Fernando Valley…The media was camped out in the lobby, and I was stuck in my room…‘Hey,’ I told my bodyguards. ‘You know this television has pay-per-view. Want to watch a movie?’…We got chicken take-out and some beer, Ron and Brad came by, and we watched Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson. At the end of the movie, when William Wallace is strapped down, disemboweled, and finally beheaded, it was as if he were being sacrificed for the sins of others. Boy, did I feel a lot like William Wallace…I was drawn and quartered in the forum of public opinion. At least William Wallace could feel proud that he was a hero of his people. But I had nothing to fall back on, except my family, a few good friends, and the sincere belief that I hadn’t done anything wrong.”