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ONE TECHNIQUE ABUSIVE men often use on their victims is called "gaslighting" - named for the classic movie in which Charles Boyer plays sinister mind tricks on his wife, Ingrid Bergman.

Gaslighting drives the victim crazy by denying her perception of reality. The gaslights did not dim, Boyer insists: There must be something wrong with his wife, who thinks they did.Run-of-the-mill batterers use the tactic all the time. They beat up "the wife" or girlfriend and then ask, "What have you done to yourself?"

Run-of-the-mill lawyers know the technique, too. It's deemed effective trial advocacy when, by force of personality and oratory, an attorney asserts his version of reality over the true facts.

We've just witnessed a masterful display in Johnnie Cochran's summation for the defense in the Simpson case.

Wasn't this supposed to be the case that raised America's consciousness about domestic violence? Everyone learned about the 1989 beating that left Nicole hiding outside in her bra - and O.J. sentenced to telephone counseling.

And it was impossible to listen to the tape of Nicole's desperate call to 911 in October 1993 without feeling her terror as she cowered in her own home, fearful for her children upstairs.

For a minute there, America saw the man behind the smiling public persona. But that vision faded as the Simpson trial became the trial of Mark Fuhrman and the LAPD. And now, in Cochran's summation, Simpson's past violent behavior disappears in flickering gaslight.

The assault that prompted the 911 call becomes, in Cochran's words, "an unfortunate incident between two people who were married.

"There was no arrest," Cochran says, as though the LAPD's failing somehow vindicates his client. "There was no physical violence," Cochran says, as though breaking down a door, screaming abuse, is not an attack.

Simpson is a "human being" Cochran says, as though that is excuse enough to beat up women.

In the end Cochran exhorts the jury: "You and I, fighting for freedom and ideals and for justice for all, must continue to fight to expose hate and genocidal racism."

Violence against women isn't in the picture.

Justice for all, it seems, is still a guy thing.