Over the past two weeks I — along with the rest of the world — have been following the case as it develops, and I have to admit that the more I read the more disturbed I get. Many have probably read the court document from the 1993 child molestation case brought against Jackson. The details of the perversion supposedly carried out by Jackson are enough to turn even the strongest stomach. Ten years later, the details don’t get any easier to digest. Yesterday I read that Michael Jackson referred to the latest accuser, Gavin Arvizo, by the affectionate nickname “Rubba,” because they use to play a game called “rubba rubba.” I’m sure we’re all on the same page with that one. Michael Jackson has been very, very bad.
All the same, the news items I find that bother me the most are not the exponentially multiplying reports of “games” and sleepovers and other weird behavior by Jackson, but the reports of incredibly unprofessional — and at times exploitative — behavior by those who are trying, as one of the prosecution’s spokespeople said, to “nail Jackson.” Everyone, including the Santa Barbara district attorney Tom Sneddon, the media, and the public, has dropped any pretense at all of holding Jackson “innocent until proven guilty.”
Let’s start with Mr. Sneddon. He would have us believe his prosecution of Jackson has nothing to do with advancing his career, or as he put it, “adding another notch to my belt.” He would have us believe he was dragged reluctantly from his quiet office into the public spotlight to stand up for truth and justice. Let’s get real. From the start of this three-ring media circus, he has behaved with all the dignity of a Yankee fan who, sitting happily in the stadium, unexpectedly sees his face on the big stadium screen between innings and starts waving his hands furiously.
As soon as the arrest warrant had been issued, Sneddon was hamming it up with the media, joking that the frenzy around the Jackson case would bring about a much-needed injection of cash for the floundering California economy. Then, in response to a question about whether he takes offense to lyrics in one of Jackson’s songs calling him a “cold man,” he declared in a burst of witticism that he has better things to do than sit around and listen to songs by a guy who calls himself Jacko. “Like … I really listen to that kind of music,” he scoffed.
It seems to me that the spotlight has made him a bit giddy. He appears to be under the impression that, with the toppling of the world’s most popular entertainer, the public is at a loss and now needs someone to fill the void.
Thankfully, he was criticized for his imbecilic remarks and has since apologized, stating he feels “bad about it because somebody would assume that I’m making light of a thing where I know there’s a serious crime, and that there are victims that have been hurt, and family.” He might have added “and there are careers in the balance, including Michael Jackson’s and my own.”
What he should have done was to put an end to the foolishness and said that nothing further should be said about the matter until the trial commences in January. That would have been professional. That would have made me believe that he wasn’t in it for the publicity. Instead, he made some ABC after-school-special remark about how his mom, if she were still alive, would have “taken [me] to task for not being a good person.”
Even more outrageous than Sneddon’s unprofessional behavior is the attempt by the public to profit from Jackson’s downfall. In general, I’m referring to the countless spokespeople who have come out of the woodwork to tell the media about Jackson’s abnormal behavior, or as one analyst put it, “the malignant horde of media hounds claiming to speak for Michael on this and many other issues.”
More specifically, I’m referring to the story of the charter airline that secretly recorded a conversation between Jackson and his lawyer during their flight from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara, where Jackson was going to surrender to authorities. The intent of the airline was to shop the tape to media outlets. In response to the threat of lawsuit by Jackson’s lawyer, the airline commented it was simply exploring the opportunity of making a profit “as any business person would.” One spokesperson compared the videotape to a lottery ticket — a winning lottery ticket at that. Does this not sound outrageous to anybody? Plenty of pundits were ready to start slapping editorials in papers vilifying Jackson the moment the charges were made public, but why is Jackson’s lawyer the only person who has any opinion on this matter?
Jackson’s lawyer is angry about much more than the charter airline; he’s pissed off at the entire proceedings thus far, saying, “If anybody doesn’t think . . . that the true motivation of these charges and these allegations is anything but money, and the seeking of money, then they’re living in their own Neverland.” Now, it is not surprising Jackson’s attorney has this attitude, and until this case goes to trial, we’re not going to know if his lawyer has a good point or is merely blustering. But it does give you something to think about.
I’m as guilty of telling Michael Jackson child-molesting jokes as the next man, and last week, when the arrest warrant was announced, my first thought was that Jackson was guilty and it was about time somebody did something about it. But after reading Jackson’s lawyers remark, I began to wonder how much I really did know about the case — and not just this one, but the 1993 case as well.
I decided to make a list of the things I know are true: First, I know that Michael Jackson is a weird, weird man who has serious emotional problems that manifest in a penchant for having sleepovers with children. Second, he is extremely stupid to continue his behavior following the 1993 accusation that caused costly damage to both his reputation and his pocket book. Third, the 1993 case was settled out of court when Jackson paid the family a significant sum — the amount is confidential but it was reportedly in the multimillions. Fourth, Jackson was never convicted of child molesting in 1993. Fifth, parents who let their children sleep in the bed of any adult, let alone someone with a reputation like Michael Jackson, are completely irresponsible. Sixth, the family in the 1993 allegation is now amazingly wealthy. Seventh, the young boy from the 1993 allegation is totally screwed up from the entire experience, and the young boy in the present case is, too. Eighth, by the time this trial is over, the young boy will be even more screwed up. (OK, I admit I’ve strayed from my purpose: The last two points are speculation). Ninth, this trial already is and will continue to get more exposure than any previous trial in history, even the O.J. trial. Tenth, I’d never heard of Tom Sneddon before last week.
Last on my list and perhaps most significant: I am obsessed with Michael Jackson. And it’s not just me; everyone is. As one reporter said, Jackson is the “ultimate traffic accident . . . people can’t take their eyes off of him.” Sadly, it appears Jackson is as obsessed with little boys as we are with him: He can’t take his eyes off them, and worse, he can’t stop sleeping with them. But is he guilty of child molesting? This is a question we can’t answer until January.
But we can answer a few other questions. Is Jackson being exploited? Yes. By whom? Everybody, from Sneddon to the media to the airline company and perhaps even by the family in the 1993 case. No matter what the conclusion of this trial, Michael Jackson is not the only one who’s been behaving badly.
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