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Michael Jackson: Once, And That's All
In Dissent, Number One Hundred and Fifty
by Brian S. Wise
18 January 2004Michael Jackson

The weekend provides just the right opportunity to write about Michael Jackson ... but just once, I promise.

If, when walking past the Dr. Phil table at the local Barnes and Noble, you find yourself with a greater and greater urge to push that bald fraud down a flight of stairs, you’ve got the right idea when it comes to the popular culture.  It was with this eye I viewed the continuing (and continuing, and continuing) coverage of Michael Jackson’s hearing last Friday.  Surely this isn’t the biggest thing going on in the world?  Isn’t the United States still knee deep in an ongoing war against Islamic terrorists?

Well, if you’ve approached the Jackson matter with that sort of attitude, you’ve missed the point entirely.  No matter the fervor you’ve employed when defending your country – against unhappy Frenchmen, Canadians, Russians, Germans and other garden variety liberals – there is something about a crowd showing up at a courthouse to shout words of encouragement at an accused child molester that, for a moment, makes you exhale deeply and think, Well, maybe they’ve got a point.

But then you remember: The French revere and protect Roman Polanski (who we know for a fact drugged and raped a 13-year-old blonde girl) and can’t have a heat wave without watching ten thousand people drop over, Canada is five years away from a civil war over who should speak French, who shouldn’t and under what circumstances, Russians can’t free hostages from a theatre without killing 150 in the process and the Germans, well, let’s just say the Germans still have no room to criticize anyone and leave it at that.  So forget all of them … that doesn’t mean something about this Jackson mess doesn’t smell funny, but what?
There is the matter of the boy, someone rarely considered.  Unnecessarily large court cases tend to prod cable television into producing a small cottage industry, that of attorneys brought onto set to discuss the accused, the accuser, the lawyers involved, et cetera, ad infinitum.  Some of the more adroit of these lawyers have taken the time to say we should consider not only the child in this case but the child from ten years ago, as well.  Well sure, but the boy from ten years ago is a man now; twenty million dollars can buy an awful lot of therapy, not to mention the fact it’s always much easier to wallow away your depressions and insecurities in a wading pool filled with hundred dollar bills.
This year’s alleged victim has no such luxury.  In fact, given that no civil lawsuit has been filed (yet), this poor child’s ultimate fate (no matter the legitimacy of his charges) is that he must spend several more years living in the same town as his family – Mom, by the way, is the woman who was accused of shoplifting from Wal Mart and then had the temerity to sue for damages.  One hopes this child will grow into a circumstance that allows him the good sense to emancipate himself at 16 or 17, so that at least he can enjoy the proceeds of his book deal without his dopey parents hanging around.  (There is apparently no truth to the rumor Knopf has approached the boy and wants to call the book I’m a Victim, Too.)

No; what’s strangest about the case is that Michael Jackson may have (please note that I have not “convicted the man in the press,” as it’ll keep the Nation of Islam off my back; I have enough headaches as it is) masturbated to completion in front of a 12-year-old boy, and the best we can think to talk about is the pre-assembled mob outside the courthouse.  When prudence suggests respectable chunks of radio and television time be dedicated to the topic of molestation – why it happens, the frequency with which it happens, what parents should do if they think their child has been molested, which agencies and national help lines one can call if they have been molested – we instead see footage of Jackson climbing atop his chauffeured SUV over and over again, waving meekly, dancing and pointing out to his personal cameraman his throngs of enthusiastic supporters.

We haven’t discussed the important things because that would force us to think about many unhappy occurrences, and Lord knows that shouldn’t happen, especially when it gets in the way of celebrity worship.  Considering someone else’s misery – most especially the child’s – at such a distance is abstract; it allows the extravagance of distracting ourselves with talk of  the accuser’s motives and legal strategies.  Anything but what matters.

Brian Wise is the lead columnist for IntellectualConservative.com.

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