As the world says its final goodbyes to the King of Pop, it seems many of the controversies surrounding Michael Jackson’s life have become a footnote overshadowed by celebration of his amazing music career. The allegations of child sexual abuse always hung over Jackson’s head in life and now in death. One New York congressman can’t seem to get those allegations out of his mind.
In a video posted on YouTube, Rep. Peter King said, “He was a pervert, a child molester; he was a pedophile…There is nothing good to say about this guy” (full story). Interestingly enough, many can’t find anything good to say about Congress these days, but have plenty of compliments for Jackson. It’s a world gone mad.
A humanitarian who visited sick children in the hospital, an artist who shattered the racial barrier in music, and a father who loved his children, Michael Jackson has been characterized in recent years as a has-been musician who molested little boys. The kicker is that while Michael Jackson was accused of child molestation—he was NEVER convicted of anything. Yet King isn’t in a very forgiving mood, further stating, that Jackson “admitted to sleeping with young boys, traveling with young boys…that is the definition of pedophilia.”
I’m not sure what dictionary King is using, but according to dictionary.com, pedophilia is defined as “sexual desire in an adult for a child.” Spending time with young boys and sharing a bed with them is definitely questionable, but it does not automatically make Jackson a pedophile. Nor do allegations. Now that Michael Jackson is dead, does it even matter anymore?
Oh, it matters! Sexual abuse, especially that of a child, is a very serious matter. If Michael Jackson really was the pervert that many, including King, believe him to be, then why should we commemorate his life in such lofty ways? A huge public memorial? Non-stop media coverage? A barrage of Michael Jackson music hitting the airwaves? Why is it in his death we are willing to say, “You know, maybe Michael didn’t molest those children after all”?
Jackson adamantly maintained his innocence, “I will say again that I have never, and would never, harm a child. It sickens me that people have written untrue things about me.” In 2005, he was acquitted of charges involving a boy who traveled with him and he settled another case out of court in 1993. Criminal charges were never filed in the second case. It was said he settled in the second case to avoid the emotional turmoil of a trial, which is not an admission of guilt. According to the justice system of the United States of America, Michael Jackson is an innocent man.
Yet Michael Jackson had already been tried, convicted, and sentenced in the court of public opinion. His behavior was already so bizarre—multiple cosmetic surgeries, Neverland Ranch, his marriages—it was easy to believe that Jackson was also a child molestor.
But from a psychological perspective, did we really expect a star thrown into the limelight as only a young boy to be normal? Add in the fact his father, Joe Jackson, was known to be a cruel, abusive man. Thrust from rehearsal to tour to the studio and back again, Jackson never enjoyed any aspect of a normal life. How, then, could we expect Michael Jackson to follow proper social protocol?
Consider these quotes from Michael Jackson (source):
“And I remember going to the record studio and there was a park across the street and I’d see all the children playing and I would cry because it would make me sad that I would have to work instead.”
“I remember one time we were getting ready to go to South America and everything was packed up and in the car ready to go and I hid and I was crying because I really did not want to go, I wanted to play. I did not want to go.”
“I would do my schooling which was three hours with a tutor and right after that I would go to the recording studio and record, and I’d record for hours and hours until it’s time to go to sleep.”
“Well, you don’t get to do things that other children get to do, having friends and slumber parties and buddies. There were none of that for me. I didn’t have friends when I was little. My brothers were my friends.”
“Yes, and I had pimples so badly it used to make me so shy. I used not to look at myself. I’d hide my face in the dark, I wouldn’t want to look in the mirror and my father teased me and I just hated it and I cried everyday.” (On a side note, reading this quote and considering the lyrics to “Man in the Mirror” really makes for a powerful combination.)
It’s a sad picture of a man who was considered a star first and a human second. A child whose only friends were his brothers and his only life was show business. A teenager who struggled with his appearance, only to be laughed at by the man he couldn’t even call “father” (Joseph Jackson made his children call him “Joseph”). An adult who was stuck in Neverland looking for the adventurous play lost to him as a child.
Sure, he could dance and sing. Heck, “Thriller” is still one of the best, if not the best, music video ever crafted. He made the moonwalk a national craze. Behind it all was a man, who was still very much a boy. And all that boy knew how to do was perform, which he did beautifully. Even when he wasn’t “performing,” his life was entertaining to us. Like so many celebrities, his death is shrouded in mystery. The legal battle will ensue for his estate and Michael Jackson memorabilia will sell like hot cakes on eBay.
All the time, many will still wonder—did he or didn’t he molest those boys?