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.