Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Not Guilty

So I was asked if I thought Michael Jackson was guilty and if celebrities 'get off' becuase they are rich and famous. Today I heard more scuttlebutt around the shampoo bowl. I'll share what I had to say about the whole matter; luckily I had a chance to think all this through for the unfinished diss of mine.
I actually think rather than getting a different standard of treatment in the courts, celebrities are able to purchase the illusory construct the average defendant cannot "innocent until proven guilty." The average person--accused, arrested and charged by the state--would be hard pressed to field 12 people who could honestly set aside all their presuppositions about their guilt. In my experience, most people think if a person has been arrested or charged with an offense, they probably did it--the old where there's smoke there's fire. Since most people feel a sense of false familiarity with celebrities, they are more likely to see a famous defendant and think "Hmm, I'm not sure I think this guy would do that." And that is exactly what they are supposed to think. Setting race aside, the state-- in the Simpson, Bryant, and now Jackson case--put forth some flawed presentations. And the respective jurors were underwhelmed. For some unknown, I would hope juries are as stubbornly divorced of their presumptions of the accused innocence as they are with celebs.
Do I think MJ is a sexual predator? I waffle. I think he's looney tunes and definitely has an unhealthy preoccupation with 'boyhood.' But my opinion is not evidence, is not grounds for conviction. Is it possible he's a manipulative deviant who has perfected the pursuit of his prey--isolating the least credible, least sympathetic victims ever? It is possible. My friend wondered why the state didn't have any experts testify about how predators choose their victims. That would have been helpful. No. The state paraded a bunch of famewhores to the stand-- the accuser's mother being the ringleader-- and said there, convict him. The jury-- who apparently has stated they don't believe MJ has never assaulted a child-- said sorry, not today.
So the story continues to unravel. It is clearly tragic. The headlines today: no more sleepovers. Well, it's about time. I hope someone of conscience has convinced this man to get some help. But cynically, in due time I think he'll be at it again.
Additionally, despite the press' ostensible standard of objectivity-- I actually heard Bryan Williams go on NBC forever about what a freak MJ was. I mean, that's hardly journalistic. That's opinion. We don't even pretend that we don't give people a fair shake. They are guilty even if acquitted. I won't even bother with Nancy Grace--I think she has some sort of psychological problem.
I would never ever allow MJ to watch my kids. But I wouldn't let any grown male stranger do that. I also believe that I have no right to judge a person that I only know from tv and pop culture. Maybe he's weird--that's not a crime. Maybe he is a sexual predator. Maybe is not grounds for my condemnation. Twelve people were selected to make a decision, They did. I think the reasonwhy these spectacles are so interesting, especially related to race, is that the reveal that we never suspend our prejudices and presuppositions...until perhaps we asked under oath to do so.
This case is closed.

1 comment:

AnnaC said...

Well...case closed? For Michael Jackson, this particular legal case is finished, but he has to deal with the public relations nightmare he faces. Surely neither he or is pr folks believe that one statement about renouncing inviting young boys into his bed will mend all the fences.
For his victims and those of other molesters, this case is definitely not closed. In fact it is open wide... quickly filling with shame and vulnerability. When those who have been abused are put on trial, when their claims are not believed, when their families openly prostitute them out... these people are victimized again. Taking control, becoming a survivor should start with the public accusation. Unfortunately for this young man and any others who did not come forward, his willingess to put himself on the line has become another source of abuse.
I am not sure how this could have turned out differently... but I abhor the "news" coverage of the trial...all of it...pre, post and during. It further demeaned victims of sexual abuse.