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Monday, June 13, 2005

Jackson Found Not Guilty On All Counts - But His Trials Are Not All Over

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I hardly know what to say about this story.

What I wanted was for Michael Jackson to be innocent, and now the jury has found him so.

As a fan of his music for many years, since I was a child in fact, I admired his music and his talent. I wished that my family was like the Jacksons and that I could be like Michael, the lead singer in a family band. Or the Osmonds, or the Partridge family. I admit it, I was fickle.

And now, when I think I know some of what it took to be one of the Jackson 5 - and of course, I don't know a fraction of the real story, who can really know anything of what its really like to be another person, I'm pretty glad I did not grow up with those challenges and pressures.

Yet when I think back to the early Michael Jackson what I remember is a bright, happy shining star. Innocent, happy, fun, yet precise and amazingly professional, able to do things that I at the same age could not even dream of doing in terms of eye hand coordination and dance.

So how did that young man become the Michael Jackson we know today?

Certainly from the media reports he has issues with the loss of his childhood to that professional life. That is certainly understandable. And there is lots of stress in growing up in the eye of the media. Still, how could he have turned into someone capable of terrible acts, or, of not understanding how his behavior would be perceived?

The question one has to ask in asking "Was he doing it: if not here, then elsewhere?" - is could Michael Jackson have been so traumatized as a youth and so protected by his handlers, and so needy an individual that he actually could not understand how his activities, if innocent, would be perceived?"

The "How could he be THAT naive?" question.

Yet the truth is, no one has ever claimed that Michael Jackson was a rocket scientist in any area other than music, lyrics and dance. If we presume for a moment that in fact he is a savant, a genius in these limited areas, then he could be limited in other areas. There are precedents.

A famous mathematician who is brilliant but depends on others to make sure he has a place to live, something to eat and clothes to wear.

A brilliant pianist who fights schizophrenia, yet is masterful when he inhabits something resembling reality.

Could childhood abuse or conditions have caused a splintering of Jackson's personality such that he is as innocent in his behavior as he claims, that he truly does find the allegations sickening and disheartening as he says, and cannot imagine that anyone would believe these things of him who was known so well for so long, and has done so much for children?

I think it is possible. But I also think that this legal episode should have taught him something about human nature to make clear that the world does not suffer that kind of innocence lightly. That he was lucky to get off, lucky to be accused by those of questionable - according to the defense - reliability. That he should not have anymore overnight guests and he might do well to have 24 hour camera surveillance in his home from now on, sad as it may be, just to protect himself from future claims.

Now isn't that a sorry thing to have to say in an innocent until proven guilty country to a man who has just gotten a not guilty verdict. But if you accept the jury's verdict, and you have been a fan of his music, then you really don't ever want to watch this happening again.

But did he do it? Did he go so far as to actually molest children after getting them drunk?

Yuck. I'd have to say, no, I don't think so. For certain I believe that he believes he did nothing wrong.

What I think he was doing was regressing back to age 5 or 6 and having pajama parties and possibly doing this literally, losing track of the fact that he was an adult in the process. Not a crime. Not abusive.

But not good for a child to be exposed to and certainly not good for Jackson himself IF and this is a big if, this is what happened, but there is a lot of evidence from MJ's own words that this is what was going on. I just don't think that anyone of his age was going to say, "I would forget that I was a grown-up and play like I was 5 again and having kids around me overnight helped me do that, create a new reality I could escape to when the pressures of my reality became too tough."

And look at who he invited, sick kids, kids with cancer who had bad realities they wanted to escape too. The ones most likely to want to play let's pretend. The ones least likely to be scared by lets pretend too because who else would want to escape the realities of their own situation, and in that sense, the MJ escape-o-Rama might even have had some benefits.

Hard to say.

He should have had cameras to protect himself but that would have been to real and possibly to embarrassing if he was truly going to regress. Would you want a disgruntled servant servant showing you prancing around in your jammies like a five year old? Thought not. But that's not a situation you'd find yourself in. Right? Right? RIGHT? Whew. You, in the back, answer faster next time, I was getting worried.

Note: this is a somewhat wacky theory on a silly blog, do not mistake this for penetrating analysis from an expert. I just thought it up right now out of thin air.

At the other end of the spectrum is the possibility is that he is an outrageous sex offender who charmed the jury and got away with it, this time. If true we should not be too concerned about the verdict because of the high recidivism rate of sex offenders, that is, watch this space for the next incident or trial. (Well, we should be concerned for the child/children involved, but at this point our legal system has determined that there is no evidence that there was a victim in the first place.)

However, the more time that passes without a new, current claim, the more likely it is that this jury got it right.

In the mean time, I don't think there are too many parents out there who don't have fair warning about overnight visits at MJ's house. O.K. there might be a few uninformed Amish families, but I think even they read the paper sometimes or overhear gossip when in town. And their teens get a year out here before deciding whether to live the Amish life, so even they have some kind of pipeline.

And after all this publicity, any parent foolish enough to let their child stay overnight, might, after filing a claim, face a charge or reckless child endangerment themselves.

How will this affect Michael Jackson's ability to perform and sell albums?

Hard to say. Depends on how many in the public have predecided and how many have been waiting for a jury verdict. The more of the latter, the better his chances. On his side, there was no glove (HA!) that nearly fit him found at the crime scene, and there was much more reasonable doubt, and while terrible, there is a difference between what O.J. was accused of doing and what M.J. was accused of doing.

Also, M.J. is a heck of a lot more talented. How this whole thing has impacted his desire and confidence about facing a crowd is another story. If you grant that he is innocent, that the jury got it right, then imagine the ordeal he has been through, most of the world standing back in horror, many assuming he did it and making nasty jokes, and only a very loyal few standing by his side, during the worst kind of ordeal.

I'm sure some would really dislike this comparison, but very few know what it is like to suffer this particular allegation when innocent. Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago was lucky, his accuser recanted his charges and asked for and received forgiveness. Until that time, nearly everyone in the media and public pretty much wrote him off as guilty, and much of the press were having a feeding frenzy. Perhaps if MJ offered to forgive his accuser it might trigger a recantation as well, because right now, the allegators (I call them that because it looks like their allegations were a croc) are pretty much trapped into initiation a civil suit or risk looking like liars.

We may never know.

What are your thoughts? Is this OJ revisited or did the MJ's jury get it right?

See the Chicago Tribune coverage for fairly complete details of the story.

That's it for this post.

Peter

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