28 June 2009

My Thoughts on Michael Jackson's Death.

With the recent passing of the 'King of Pop', is it as simple as forgetting the personal foibles and troubles of Michael Jackson and focussing on the music? Is it as simple as saying “Yeah, he had problems, but so do a lot of people and we should remember him in his glory days!?” No. I don't believe that it is. And while as a child I adored the music of MJ and the Jackson 5, you won't hear me playing his albums and dabbing my eyes in sadness.

We know that paedophiles exist in the world. We are quick to jump and act the minute that any suspicion is placed upon a suspect, claiming that we would rather be safe than sorry. Due process and 'innocent until proven guilty' are great concepts, but the moment that a child becomes involved we as a society seem to have a slightly different code of conduct. We remove the children from the situation and get to the bottom of it before declaring everything okay.

When I volunteered at WAVAW's (Women Against Violence Against Women) rape crisis line, I remember the question being posed “How do we know that the woman is telling the truth?”
The gentle answer that was given was simple. “We take her word for it.” The facts and criminality of the situation would be figured out later by the police, but we were a support system for women and that was what we intended to do – support. There is so much social stigma and consequence wrapped around coming forward with an accusation of a sexual crime that to make it more difficult on the victim is abusive. And even if the courts find a sexual predator innocent, keep in mind that less than 1 percent of all rapists are ever brought to trial and found guilty.

Ask yourself what you would do/say/think if an average Joe moved into your neighbourhood and starting having sleepovers with pre-pubescent boys in a security guarded rooms? What if he surrounded himself with kids and decorated his home with desirable toys and games and all manner of things that children love? What if that man had two child molestation cases behind him and even more complaints to the media about his inappropriate behaviour with small boys? Would you jump so quickly to defend that man, that average balding fifty-something redneck who lives in the house one block over?

Or do you just really like Thriller and like to play devil's advocate?

I am touchy on the matter, because I have been the places where sexual exploitation of children is a rampant problem, places where children's poor economic status pushes them into the corner and holds them down and lets bad men prey on them.

If you haven't been to Thailand you cannot properly imagine the sheer openness with which the sex trade industry carries itself – a smorgasbord of nubile young women in skimpy clothing throwing themselves at old farang men and trying to drag them into their closet-sized bars so that they don't walk further and disappear into the fingers of the next block. Men come here to unabashedly flaunt their money of which so few dollars, pounds or euros can buy a woman's companionship – a girl who will stay the hour, the night or 2 whole weeks. Sure, it is sickening to see the economic disparity of the two cultures, play out in this seedy ballet of sex and pathetic loneliness, but we do not know the specifics of what brought these women here and it is foolish and paternalistic to think that they are all being exploited - but children are never complicit. In the sex trade they are always exploited. Yet you can buy one for less than a hundred dollars.

The sex trade in Asia is ugly and brutal and the neat and tidy bars of Bangkok and Phuket are not the real battleground – it is the small villages and poverty stricken towns of Laos, Burma and Cambodia where many of the children, boys and girls, are sold by their desperately poor parents to work as “shop aides” or “errand boys.” These same children are drugged to the point of addiction, isolated, gang raped and beaten for money, many ultimately contracting HIV.

With this going on in the world, with the rampant monetary trade of children's innocence a very real problem, shouldn't we be a bit slower to mourn a man accused over and over again of the very same thing, of using his advantaged financial and social status to damage children irreparably? Maybe, maybe he did not do it. But we all know he probably did. And orgiastic accolades and passionate eulogies about his music and career make what he did okay. It makes children out there who are being molested right now look at the media and say to themselves “Well if he can get away with it than what hope do I have of being believed?”

Charles Manson was a great songwriter, but we don't debate if his artistic merit deserves precedence over the crimes he masterminded. The moment Gary Glitter was found with child porn on his computer the hockey anthem “RocknRoll” was nixed from all major sporting events – but yet when we are treated to a litany of MJ's music it is completely socially acceptable. To me it smacks of a selfishness – that he couldn't possibly have done it because “He was my herrrrooo....”

I believe that Michael Jackson was a sexual predator toward children. People say “well, how do you know? Come on?! Maybe he didn't do it!” And I don't know.

But I take the children's word for it. It is as simple as that. I believe them, not a disturbed celebrity who can buy his way out of jail. I believe that if many separate, non-related incidents are reported about anything than something is awry and if 10 people say they smell smoke, there is probably a fire.

I believe the children. Why doesn't everyone? What is the motivation to choose to believe and support a grown man with an obvious mental sickness over a child?

I'll be the first to admit that connecting these two issues is a stretch, but sometimes it just feels so crazy to hold up and worship celebrities who have raped, murdered and molested and forgive them everything when they die. Death does not mean you get forgiven for all of the terrible things you did when you were alive – especially not when you harm a child.

If you need to hear some great pop music put on some Sly and the Family Stone.


Alexis said...

I think manipulating children can be a pretty easy thing to do on either side, and a parent's greed is a valid thing to take into account. It has been proven that false memories can be planted into people - which is particularly distressing in molestation cases since even an accusation can destroy the accused's life.

I'm by no way saying that we shouldn't trust the accusations of the vulnerable, but there are two sides of every story. Me - I don't know. I'll never know. Not many people ever will.

But, I have to add, I sleep beside my cat every night and have never felt the need to molest him. I've fallen asleep beside my younger sisters - same deal. Just because he's weird doesn't mean he's evil.

Violet Dear said...

You are right - I tried to stay a bit impartial and say that yes, we have no idea if he really did it, but then my incredulous side was like, "Dear, c'mon. You weren't born yesterday...."

Whether he did it or not, I think the most important point I was trying to make was that we were treating him soooo different than a dude named Stan who was accused of the same thing, and that wasn't cool.

One more thing - have you slept beside children behind locked doors with video surveillance giving you a 5 minute head start if someone was coming down the hall - surveillance far above the security systems installed on your property, and did you admittedly give those children wine?

No, cuz you're not a weirdo. Not THAT kind of weirdo, at least.... :)

Dolly Daydream said...

I completely agree with everything you said, the Funeral made me sick! Even in the UK they are making a big fuss over his death! What a joke! (Sorry you have got me going now!)

erotic glass arts said...

I too have been troubled by his death in the media. He left because all of the negative media and dissention among his fans, yet at the time of his death, the nation forgot. How sad!

Corinne Roman

Michaela said...

Oh, so I go down to the red light district and get called a 'hooker' just cause I hang out with a few men I talk to? What a debased society we live in!