Is it possible that someone could have a kind word for Mark Fuhrman, the liar and bigot of N-word fame? The braggart ex-cop whose big mouth is O.J. Simpson's best hope to beat the rap?
Sure. This is a big country with all sorts of opinions. And far worse villains than Fuhrman had admirers. As I recall, even John Wayne Gacy received love letters.
So I wasn't surprised to receive a spirited defense of Fuhrman. And since he's been so battered in the media, it seems only fair to pass along a pro-Fuhrman viewpoint.
It comes from Frank Powell, of Florence, Ala., who frequently writes to assure me that I'm an effete, sniveling liberal, which probably surprises many liberals who frequently write to tell me that I'm a flint-hearted right-wing swine.
Here's what Mr. Powell has to say:
"During the Trial of the Century (no, not O.J.; Mark Fuhrman's trial) support for Fuhrman has [been meager]. I note that you genuflect to the PC police by studiously avoiding a consoling word in his behalf and sprinkling your remarks with adjectives like 'hate' and 'loathsome.'
"My view is that Fuhrman is the product of years of association with elements in our society that ordinary citizens can only read about or watch sanitized TV portrayals.
"You are likely aware that in the tight police community, there are only two classifications of humans: police and [obscenity].
"My education on this subject came from a peripheral law-enforcement job of about nine years. I had the opportunity to watch young California police recruits change in a matter of months from bright-eyed proponents of the 'created equal' myth to tight-lipped suspicious cops who reflexively put everyone in some [obscenity] slot.
"This change was the conditioning of months working the alleys and ghettos of a large city where things happen that only cops know.
"Mind you, these were not slope-heads looking for an opportunity to tote a gun. These were intelligent, carefully screened, mostly college-educated young men.
"You figure it out. I would challenge you and all the other hypocrites who are so quick to condemn Fuhrman to walk in some young cop's shoes for six months. . . .
"Recently there have been a series of public attacks on law enforcement morality and fairness. As a result, those we hire to keep the anti-social elements from overrunning us have had to retreat. Read the resulting crime stats. Who in his right mind would risk his life to collar a crook and risk his freedom, reputation and property by a slip in procedure?
"I am sickened by the media's attack on Fuhrman. If it weren't for the Fuhrmans out there, our society could soon be another Rwanda or Botswana. There are a few of us -- maybe more than you think -- who realize this."
I agree with a couple of points that Powell makes. Yes, we do need police. And, yes, police work can be frustrating and dangerous.
But I've never heard of anyone being dragged from his home and forced to become a policeman.
Sure being a cop can be difficult work. There's nothing new about that. It isn't a secret. Every applicant and every recruit knows about the kind of work he is seeking.
But there isn't one high-crime big city -- not Chicago, New York, L.A., Detroit or Philadelphia -- that doesn't have more applicants for police jobs than it can hire.
Why are so many young men and women eager to wear that badge?
I'm sure some are idealists. But there is also the allure of power. Few jobs provide that kind of instant authority.
There's also the instant status and sense of identity. You tell someone you are a cop and you are immediately believed to be in the know, streetwise, capable, and privy to society's darkest secrets and sins. You are not a faceless fringe player. You are part of the mainstream that keeps society ticking.
Plus the pay is good, the fringe benefits are better than most, the hours aren't too bad, when you develop a big gut you can wangle a desk job.
And it isn't boring. Boredom is probably the single biggest cause of job burnout.
So while we can appreciate the good work that good cops do, let's not exaggerate the frustrations of police work.
Cops become cops because they want to. And they remain cops because they like it.
And I didn't notice any gray hairs in Fuhrman's designer haircut.