If the kid gloves don’t fit, I thought, I must acquit myself as a columnist. O. J. Simpson’s new book, If I Did It, a tell-all about murders he absolutely positively 100% did not commit, seemed to achieve a new cultural nadir for our time. Not even to mention moral.
There ought to be a law, you say? Actually there is, more or less. When I was a teenager in New York, serial killer David Berkowitz, aka Son-of-Sam, terrorized the city’s Lovers Lanes for two years. He was finally apprehended in August 1977. There was some talk of his getting a book deal, so a bill was hastily patched together to forbid profiting from one’s crimes in literary or cinematic ways. That New York legislation became a model for other states, and variations of its provisions were widely enacted.
To circumvent these restrictions, O.J.’s publishers have devised this hypothetical presentation which does not overtly acknowledge commission of a crime. A legal argument could be made that Simpson’s not-guilty verdict would provide a loophole by which he could openly confess. There is no profiteering from his crime if the judicial system failed to convict him as the perpetrator, no matter what he may now maintain. However, that would almost certainly draw a challenge and end up in the Supreme Court, costing the publishers a million dollars in legal fees. This way is safe. Then again, it just might inspire a Son-of-Simp law.
To be honest, I have a sneaky impulse to peek at a certain page, just to test my theory about the gloves Mark Fuhrman found. Those who followed the case closely will recall he said he found one glove near the bodies and one in Simpson’s back yard. The prosecutor believed him and the defense accused him of planting evidence. Across the country, people were debating whom to believe. I had a thesis, one I heard nowhere espoused.
Believing Fuhrman, I argued, assumed an untenable concatenation of premises. A man could lose one glove in a violent altercation, but would he walk for blocks wearing just the other? If he had, wouldn’t he discard it along with the weapon? If he hadn’t discarded it, it wouldn’t fall accidentally in his property. Nor would he throw it there intentionally. No reenactment scenario I could live with created that result.
My hypothesis was that the murderer had intentionally left both gloves at the scene, because walking through balmy Santa Monica streets wearing gloves would be like wearing a sign. Fuhrman found both, pocketed one, then dropped it into O.J.’s yard, where he was first to arrive. By trying to manufacture more evidence, he proved the Talmudic dictum that “‘whoever adds is subtracting,” or its English counterpart: “Less is more.”
So on second thought, this opens a wonderful world of possibilities. There should be a whole series of these books, bringing clarity to us armchair detectives and “closure” to the emotionally involved. Volume Two goes to Robert Blake, another celebrity who chose to pay a defense lawyer over a divorce lawyer. Blake’s greatest performance as an actor was playing Kansas killer Perry Smith in In Cold Blood, but his wife was probably dispatched in hotter blood. She was shot outside a restaurant, and is there a man among us who has not known that impulse?
The book would fill us in: Did she call him fat or stingy or a spendthrift or a has-been or a grubby little man who blundered his way back out of success the same way he blundered in? Inquiring minds want to know.
For Volume Three my vote goes to Robert Wagner, if only to avoid being grossed out by Michael Jackson or four competing tomes by rappers vying over who snuffed Tupac Shakur. Wagner has no not-guilty verdict to hide behind, just a coroner’s finding that foul play was not indicated. Natalie Wood was a little tipsy after the party on the yacht and — oopsy! — fell overboard. Wagner could make big bucks off a juicy hypothetical confession.
Without a doubt, the most eagerly awaited volume would be Bill Clinton’s If I Did It about the Paula Jones affair. Nothing sells like a Presidential mea coulda culpa. And after his poor performance recently on Fox News Sunday, he needs the exposure. More importantly, it would allow the youth of America to fully appreciate their most colorful ex-President. Bill Clinton was no ordinary member of the Presidential corps, and this would reveal his distinguishing characteristics.
The story would begin like this: Once upon a time, there was a magazine called The American Spectator…