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I think my co-blogger Cats has got it wrong.

Jacko was completely hatstand. That is not something anyone would deny.

I think we as libertarians can’t deny that any adult has the fundamental responsibilty for their own behaviour. Jacko was at best utterly unhinged and at worst a kiddie-fiddler. Whilst I don’t believe his own abysmal childhood is an excuse for that I think it is a reason. From Cat’s post…

“it’s an insult to every individual who has overcome true childhood hardship, deprivation and/or abuse to emerge as a functioning member of society.”

Well I see where that is coming from and I have known people who, for whatever reasons, had rough childhoods but I think that comment is entirely wrong-headed. The people I have known who got through it and became “functioning members of society” are amongst the people I am proudest to have ever known. Getting over what they went through was not easy and I am proud to have known them because they did very well because not everyone makes it through. Jackson clearly didn’t and for that he deserves our pity. Maybe he was unlucky. Maybe he lacked the willpower. I shall not judge because unlike the people I know who suffered into adulthood with things like deliberate self-harm and eating disorders and got over them I never knew Jackson so it would be unfair to compare and contrast.

There is only one caveat I shall put to this. I am not 100% Jacko didn’t abuse kids. I suspect he certainly did things which were “inappropriate” though not in either his or the child’s mind conceived of as sexual at the time. But I’m not sure and I think Jackson deserves the benefit (which we all deserve) of the doubt here.

My final thoughts on this are not exactly related – tragedy and wrongdoing having a tenous relationship at best. Jackson had, as far as I can tell, a terrible life. In that life he earned more than you or me ever will. In that life he sold 250 million albums (just slightly more than Ian B’s shifted). In that life he could have pretty much slept with anyone male or female on the planet but mainly slept in an oxygen tent with a Chimp. That is tragic anyway you put it. One of the most tragic images I ever saw was something that some UK TV station CGIed. It was a few years ago. It was an image of Michael Jackson in his mid-40s without the surgery. It was almost worse than looking at the real thing because it was a picture of a handsome middle-aged black fella rather than the travesty Jackson became.

We should pity Jackson for that as we should pity Elvis. Maybe they should have overcome the horrors of their childhoods but not everyone can do that. Before you cast aspertions ask two questions… Do you really think because he was extraordinarily odd he actually harmed children? And do you not pity him for never being able to grow up?

I suspect he never specifically harmed kids, much*. I know that my life as a complete unknown not shifting millions of albums and not a friend of Elizabeth Taylor has almost certainly been much happier than Mr Jackson’s. I also don’t think he interfered with children as such. Maybe he had no conception of sex as a game played upon a pubic lawn and maybe didn’t even see his physical contact with kiddies as being wrong (because he didn’t actually see it as “sexual” – what actually is “sexual” is a bloody good question) but it is almost impossible to see anyone other than Jackson as the fundamental loser in this tragedy. And I would also wager that it’s almost impossible to see him as a sexual actor in the way we probs see ourselves.

He was merely a tragic and lonely man. He ought to have been able to get over that and if he had he would deserve our unstinting admiration for that as much as his undoubted showmanship. Alas, he never did. That sometimes happens to our greatest stars. It also sometimes happens to us.

*If any damage was done I suspect most of it was done by the post-abuse counselling.


  1. RobtE says:

    An Orthodox Jewish couple are having marriage problems. They finally agree to seek guidance from a rabbi. But the cannot see their own rabbi. They are both prominent members of the community and they would die of shame if their rabbi knew they were having trouble. So they agree to go speak to the town’s Reformed rabbi.

    “Rabbi,” says the husband, “my wife is a shrew. She’s a scold. Nothing I can do is ever good enough in her eyes. She is impossible to live with.”

    “You’re right,” says the rabbi.

    “Hah!”, says the wife. “You thinks he’s easy to live with? He’s never home. He takes up every hopeless cause that comes along. He is the friend of every no-good-nick he meets. But does he have five minutes for me or his family?”

    “You’re right,” says the rabbi.

    “What!?”, says the husband. “I’m right. She’s right. We can’t both be right.”

    “Yes,” says the rabbi. “You’re right.”

  2. daphne says:

    You’re joking, right?

  3. Dan Bradshaw says:

    >>Jacko was at best utterly unhinged and at worst a kiddie-fiddler.<<

    You know those things for facts, do you? Did you know the man personally, ever meet him?

    I wouldn’t go too much on what the media feed one. It’s their sacred duty to lie and blacken a person’s character. It’s what sells papers and airtime.

  4. Rich says:

    I would say, “as a libertarian”, his private life is none of our business. And certainly doesn’t reflect on his legacy.

  5. Nick M says:

    Rich, Dan,
    I think it’s fairly clear Jackson was an utter fruitloop. Obviously he had the right to be very strange in public and I’m judging him on that rather than the press or whatever.

  6. daphne says:

    I don’t think he got it wrong at all, Nick.

    I think he was quite restrained in his post condemning this child rapist as something extraordinary who deserved special consideration for his perversion because he had talent and a tough daddy. I think this sick son of a bitch should have hit the ground twenty years ago and saved countless children the benefit of his disgusting attention.

    I hope the freaky bastard is dancing in Hell.

  7. Nick M says:

    If he was a child molester then I would be more than happy to shoot the bullets at his feet to keep him performing that Hadean cabaret for all eternity.

    But that’s a big “if”. Anyhow. I wasn’t making special consideration. I think having an absolute bastard of a father and no childhood is a reason. I noted that a reason is not an excuse. We all have things we need to get through, monkeys to get off our backs. In Wacko’s case possibly almost literally.

    But I tend to think Jackson was just almost singularly odd. Look, if I enjoyed sharing a bed with 12 year old boys you’d think I was definitely up to something but that’s because I come over as quite normal. I think (from everything I’ve seen and read about Jackson over the years – and that’s a lot) that he was vicariously trying to have the childhood he never had in what rapidly turned into middle-age. And childhood is a time of innocence. Even if it was the deranged innocence of Neverland I still think that’s what he was trying to do.

    Like I said. I don’t know but the California DA (Tom Sneddon was it?) tried to get Jackson banged to rights for over a decade and failed so I’m giving him the benefit of at least a reasonable doubt. Because of that and because of what I read and because I have for years thought of Jackson as being almost transhuman* and therefore whatever sexuality he had as being unfathomable to us lot.

    The other big problem with categorising Jackson is the amount of bullshit flying from all interested parties such as his family, his nanny, the mother of his kids, record companies and concert promoters… It’s a right mess and everyone of them seems to be trying to salvage something from wreckage by the time-tested method of trying to sling as much mud as humanly possible as quickly as possible.

    Having said all that. If I were a parent and Jacko had agreed to babysit at any point over the last 15ish years I would have prefered the shade of Joe Stalin to do the job.

    Thing is we don’t know, we will never know and Jackson was almost incomprehensibly weird. And I think weird enough to actually sleep with kids for a non-sexual purpose. I guess that sort of is a form of abuse but rape? Not convinced.

    I didn’t really like his music. I didn’t really like his dancing and not one red cent of mine ever went to the Jacksonian machine. I have no dog in this fight. I’m just calling it as I see it.

    *Lots of people have cosmetic surgery and get bigger breasts or smaller noses but they generally remain recognisible as themselves.

  8. Rich says:

    Daphne, is there some evidence you have that the rest of us are unaware of? Remember he was acquitted of all charges.

    Yours is the mentality of the lynch mob, which by the way is profoundly un-libertarian.

    The whole paedophilia thing has been a witch-hunt for a while. It is a charge, like racism, against which there is no defense. Just the suspicion of guilt becomes guilt itself.

    Because he used to grab his crotch at concerts, does that mean he molested all those in attendance?

    You could probably make just as strong a case for him being the ultimate “un-paedophile.” Someone who respected the period of “childhood” more than anyone – wanting to celebrate it, not defile it.

    Damn, but he was an easy target. All those “fans” following him around, mostly certifiable loons. But then Charles Manson was a huge Beatles fan – there seems to be a correlation between level of talent and the mental soundness of the hardcore fanbase.

  9. NickM says:

    So he respected childhood by carrying it through until he was fifty?

    That don’t make him a peadophile or unpeadophile or anything. It does though make him very odd. Most people develop some kinda adult sexuality.

    The “crotch-grabing” is complete irrelevant to the kiddie-fiddling. That could just as easily be seen as an expression of adult sexuality.

  10. RAB says:

    Well in answer to Dans question above,

    An aquaintence of mine did interview Michael Jackson.
    One of the few who did.

    He said that he was confronted with a Man Child( long before sexual revelations etc)

    He could happily talk about how he made his music and danced (he had been performing since the age of five. Tour bus, hotel, gig, hotel, rehursal, sound check etc ad infinitum)

    But you would never send him down to the corner shop for a packet of fags and a six pack.

    He just wouldn’t have known what to do!

    Similarly there are stories coming out now that Jackson was gay, and his lovers were far from children, late teens and 20s.

    Believe what you may, or wish…

    There is a new industry being built…

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