“There are two kinds of light – the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.”
~James Thurber

Michael Jackson was a music phenomenon to many. I liked his music, dance, and artistic contributions – a lot.

But he was a child molester. I think one trumps the holy living shit out of the other.

I was aghast at the thought of MJ’s upcoming “comeback tour” in London next month. I think that his death before this comeback is timely, if his was to be a comeback that would have provided him with more fame and money, and thus access to even more children. I do not say this to mean that I believe that the universe intervened to deal out a just punishment by death. As an aside, I don’t believe in punishment by death, even for child molesters. Life in prison without the possibility of release is another matter.

Now, sure, if you know me, or have been reading this blog for long, you might think I’m a little biased. I am. Having said that, while I’m watching people mourning on TV and hearing reports that his albums are selling out and that fans are setting up shrines around the world, I’m just thinking that there’s one less child molester in the world and that’s a good thing.

I have explored and do embrace the powers of forgiveness and redemption, but MJ never expressed anything but denial. Regardless, even when there is an admission and treatment, the recidivism rate for child molesters is astoundingly high.

I know MJ has three children (the sole custody rights of whom he purchased) who will mourn him. At their age, I would have mourned my father’s death too, and I am thinking of MJ’s children now. But all of MJ’s talents and charitable works don’t change the fact that he was a child molester whose money and celebrity status gave him access to children in untold (and some told) ways and numbers.

I won’t think of MJ and his creative contributions to the music world today. And, no, I don’t care to wait a so-called respectable period of time to say this. I’m thinking about the innocent children who were his prey. I think all the respect belongs to them.

56 comments on “Mourning Michael Jackson: Celebrity Trumps Integrity?”

  1. Thank you for this post, Cheri. I was struggling with a way to say this, and I could not have said it better.

    Great, gifted musician? Sure. But still a child molester, and I’m just sick of hearing him touted as some kind of hero.

    Call me biased, too. No child should have to fight this lifelong battle just because the man could sing and dance.

    And did I mention that I love you? XO

  2. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for writing this. I’ve been sick to my stomach, and was feeling just this complete repulsion at the news coverage and all the people “mourning.”

    I’m with Blognut, no one should have to suffer the excruciatingly painful suffering that comes with being abused. NO child should ever be paid to keep quiet.

    He molested children who are now and forever will suffer the effects of that abuse. It’s criminal and wrong.

    I love you! XO

  3. Thanks so much for posting this!!
    Yes, he was a molester…point blank. So therefore, I didn’t hold him in high esteem in life, and won’t do so in death either.
    I was actually given attitude from a friend earlier today for expressing my opinion about MJ.
    So many people are blinded by his celebrity- that they didn’t see the true underlying problem- he liked little children- and in a bad way.
    You Rock- and I am so glad that you were brave enough to write this blog.

  4. As mentioned indirectly in my post, MJ was talented but I agree with you that I have troubles mourning him because of his history, even though he was never convicted of offenses.

  5. I’m sure you have way more information that I do about his trial. Why was he not convicted? How certain are we that he really committed these crimes? You sound pretty certain.

    I’m certainly not one to defend a child molester, but I’m leary of wrongful accusations, as well.

    The latter part of his life certainly was tragic, whatever the case.

  6. What Jason said – I thought he was acquitted?

    And isn’t possible to say that we loved the music without condoning the personal behavior? I love the Rolling Stones music; but who knows what they did with teen groupies?

    MJ was undoubtedly a totally messed-up person; but that doesn’t keep him from being a great musician. I do wonder why his family didn’t do more to help him – get him therapy or whatever…

  7. probably i should say something about your post. but really? i just want to say that i’m commenting from my new hp touchscreen tablet laptop lover. so, okay, bye. i’m going to touch the screen with my FINGER and make it do things.

  8. You have been through some serious shit woman!

    I have a hard time making a seemingly crazy man out to be a legend. He may have started out great, and made great music, but he surely didn’t stay great. He went batshit nutty.

    The people that start out against the odds and turn out great are the real legends…

  9. SPOT on. Well said. Cheers!

    As to why he was let off– Because in the first case that went to court, he made a deal, and paid the parents off. In the other one, enough doubt was cast apon the (scumbag parents), to allow for “reasonable doubt”. But the evidence in the case was solid, and it was a FARCE of justice.

    Having worked for a DA’s office in child abuse cases, I can just tell anyone who cares, that GUILTY people get off ALL the TIME. And they don’t even have MJ’s legal team. That he got away with it,(to go on and pay off others, btw), means nada.

  10. The 16-year-old in me mourns the entertainer that was just amazing. The university student in me mourns the incredible music that came out of that man.
    The 47-year-old that I am just shakes her head and wonders what the frick happened to that man…the whole child-molestation thing? yeah…maybe he wasn’t convicted, but something tells me that there had to be some basis for it to come out…more than once.
    And now, we find out that he was over $400Million in debt? That’s just wrong.
    I pray for those kids of his…will they ever have any part of a “normal” life?!?!
    how sad.

  11. We all know that an acquittal does not mean innocent, it means that the prosecution didn’t prove the legal elements of the crime to the satisfaction of the jury.

    Even some of the jurors in the MJ case said that they thought he was guilty, but that the prosecution simply didn’t prove all of the elements of the case as they understood it.

    OJ was acquitted, and later held responsible in the civil trial for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

    But that one court case wasn’t the only accusation against MJ.

    MJ was accused by many children, spanning a decade, and he paid a multimillion dollar settlement in just one case before the acquittal to which everyone points as proof of his innocence. Would an innocent man pay such a staggering amount to an lying accuser? I don’t know . . .

    I wish for him to rest in peace. I feel compassion for his pain. I acknowledge that he was a victim himself. And he was a talented artist. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a child molester, and I’m not going to honor someone who hurt children in that way, even in death.

  12. I got mad at a friend today because she compared the passing of MJ to 9/11 and said that she would always remember where she was when she heard he had died – I told her I thought she was crazy!! A few good albums 15 years ago does not make a great human being – he was greedy, immature, selfish, stupid, and at best had a preverted view of adult/child relationships! I’ll never forget the interview he did when he said that he shared his bed with children allllll the time and that it was very loving??? Crazy! But, I do not idol worship and in today’s age so many do. So, I chalk it up to a growing sense in society that “fame” is all important…sad, but all too true.

  13. My immediate (Catholic to the core) response upon hearing of his death was, “May God have mercy on his soul.”

    On a lighter note, I went through the McD drive-thru late last night, and the young African-American woman in the window said, “Have you heard about my husband?”

    “Your husband?” I asked. “Who’s your husband?”

    “Michael Jackson. He passed away today.” (Nice when the fast food workers have a sense of humor, don’t you think?)

    “I’m so sorry,” I said. Then after an appropriately dramatic pause, added, “that you were married to him, I mean. Him and the monkey.”

  14. Cheri, Thanks for saying so eloquently what I have been chewing on since Thursday.

    I had a chance this morning to point out to my son (who’s 8 and knows nothing about Michael Jackson) that celebrity often makes for very unhappy and messed up people even if they are all shiny on the outside.

  15. I heard “I want you back” today (Jackson 5) and got a bit teary for the young boy with the big voice and the endearing smile.

    I can’t feel sad for what he became though.

    Rest in peace all those who died on June 25th who lived and loved in quiet ways. The media may not acknowledge them as they are MJ but we can.

  16. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who was thinking these things. You just said it better than I ever could. And (I’m so sorry) have the street creds to do so.

    Loves to you.

  17. I completely agree. Every television channel and radio station has been going on and on about his amazing contributions to music and how the world will never be the same without him..

    But I just keep thinking about karma and how maybe he got what he deserved. Child molesters should not be idolized under any circumstances.

    The deaths of Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett have been completely overshadowed by the self-proclaimed king of pop died.

  18. So I just deleted my comment, because I called you a bitch for saying what I tried to say better than I said it.

    So here’s the original comment, with the bitch part deleted:

    “Well, I should have read first, wrote second, because I gave a similar opinion (less wordy, counselor, just FYI) on my blog before reading yours. Yours is better. You win.”

  19. I’m another one who changes the channel or mentally tunes it out. I think the other losses this week deserve to have as much if not more attention because they both lived better lives. I feel bad for his children and the reality of life that they are now going to have to face. And pray that he kept anything he did away from HIS children.

  20. You are right on target, Cheri!

    If I see one more newscast extolling this pathetic pedophile, I’m going to throw something at the TV. Good thing I’m in a hotel room.

    Can we please get back to what’s important? Adding to our cultural vocabulary with terms like “hiking the Appalachian Trail?” Heh.

  21. My favorite comment on this issue to date has been on a distant friend’s facebook page. The friend wrote “goodbye michael, and thanks for all the great music”, and some commenter wrote “no thanks for all the child molesting. allegedy. but really.”

  22. I struggle with this really. I agree that he was disturbed and behaved questionably and to see him sainted now in death is confusing and wrong.

    But I (and I do think OJ was guilty by the way), cannot say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I believe he was a child molester. I can’t believe I’m saying this because I love you and I hate to not 100% agree with everything your beautiful heart says. And I say this without having read court transcripts and seen all the evidence, etc. However, I do think one can be wrongfully accused and I just feel uncomfortable saying he’s 100% guilty when I don’t know all the facts.

    I do hope you still kinda like me.

  23. I agree with you completely. Even if you throw out the legal stuff there are the interviews where he admits to having children sleep in his bed. That is not the behavior of a man who has normal relationships with children.

    Money and power have long kept people from having to pay for their actions and he had that in spades.

    I’m just frustrated that his pedophilia is being treated as a footnote.

  24. Deb:

    I was in law school when the first case broke, and I followed it pretty closely from that perspective as did a number of professors and students (especially interesting because some were involved). I even had occasion to hear an address on evidentiary issues at a conference (years after the first case) by one of the lawyers involved. Also, during law school I worked in the LA District Attorney’s office, and did some cases with lawyers in the sex crimes division, so those insights we pretty cool to have too.

    Having said all of that, I would always tread carefully, lightly, and respectfully before I’d put out such a thought. There is nothing worse than a false accusation. I carefully chose the term child molester over pedophile because it isn’t clear to me that MJ met the classic definition of a pedophile (one psych report said he was a regressed child himself, and just did those acts with other boys, as boys will sometimes do with each other). But I would add that although he may have been a “regressed child” emotionally, he was ACTUALLY a grown man when he did what he did with those boys, and his money and power as a star gave him opportunity, so the effect on the victims was the same on them regardless of Jackson’s state of mind.

    Moreover, it isn’t just that many, many boys described their relationships with him as being sexualized in nature and act, it is that Jackson himself so described those relationships, and denied all the while that his actions were harmful to the boys involved with him.

    I stand by my statements wholeheartedly, and I love you just as much, and especially, for saying what is in your heart.

  25. Thanks Cheri.

    From an outsider perspective, it is clear his relationships with children weren’t normal. And from an insider view, like you have, I can see how you’d classify him as a child molester.

    This temporary amnesia on the part of the media sure is disconcerting and disturbing.

  26. Deb:

    Dude. You are so NOT lame. You are thoughtful and careful and responsible and say/write what you’re thinking. Discussion is a good, good thing. Also? This stuff happened a long time ago, and it’s the kind of thing and the sort of details that we all want to forget anyway; I just don’t think we should when it comes to the safety and welfare of the kids to whom he had access.


  27. Deb:

    I got to thinking about your last comment.

    I don’t think it takes someone with an insider’s view to classify him as a child molester. It merely takes someone with the courage to look it in the eye and call it what it is.

    Also, I find it equally disconcerting and disturbing that the media isn’t the only group suffering from amnesia (and denial and misplaced loyalty).

  28. Hear, hear, Cheri. I’ve been catching news clips with “fans” carrying on like their best friend just died. And don’t get me started on the Facebook posts from my old high school acquaintances acting like it’s the greatest tragedy of the decade.

    There is this weird thing that some people get into – we saw it when Princess Di died – called Needtogetalifeitis.

  29. I am probably not going to make much sense, but here goes….

    I think the problem is that celebrity trumps everything. There doesn’t seem to be anything a celebrity does that can be vile enough to neutralize celebrity. It’s almost as if the our culture says, “yeah, what an awful thing to happen, but it was HIM, after all.” As if – and please forgive me if this is offensively put – it was almost an honor for his victims to be victimized by him, because it was Michael Jackson, after all.

    You almost get the feeling that the most avid fans would have paid to change places with those children.

    That’s what’s so creepy and frightening about our current worship of celebrity and “fame” – it seems to be the only thing of value, and it doesn’t matter what a person does, as long as he/she is famous.

    I wrote about the place his music had in my life, and it is his music I mourn – not his “celebrity” life, not even his “performance.”

    And I think about what he did to himself, his denial of his own “self” – the obsessive alteration of his physical self, the ill health that could only be psychosomatic, the self-medication – he put himself through hell through self-loathing.

    Frankly, I can’t imagine any other end for him than the one he had. He would never have lived to be 80 or 90 years old; he was obliterating himself all his life, and finally succeeded.

  30. I had a similar discussion with my husband. I was amazed at the way people are acting as if he was a saint. It is amazing how people can forget the years of trials, the incredibly strange behavior, etc. He forgiveness is between him and God, but raising him up on a pedastool and having EVERY radio station salute him really is making me angry. Thanks for saying this!

  31. I gotta echo what Jason said (and he said it so well, too): “Why was he not convicted? How certain are we that he really committed these crimes? You sound pretty certain.” And most especially, I also am very “leary of wrongful accusations”. Plus, I hate the press, especially tabloid-like press, spewing forth crap that I happily swallow hook, line and sinker. When it comes to celebrities, it’s easy to claim anything and people will eat it up.

    Child molestation is a self-centered sickness beyond comprehension and it makes my skin crawl.

    But…um…yeah…where is this absolute certainty coming from? I’m a whole lot more “certain” that OJ killed Nicole than I am that MJ molested children. And was I there? No. Do I really know for sure that he did? No. I’m not saying MJ did not molest children. I’m saying, I have no knowledge, either way. And it’s easy to imagine how poor judgement could be miscontrued as malicious intent. But that doesn’t mean actual molestation, or anything particularly heinous, took place. Or that it didn’t. Again, I don’t know. I couldn’t say. But whew! You are SO certain! Do you know someone who was there?

  32. Well, crap. When there are 45 comments before yours, and yours is a question, it’s worth it to take the time to read them all before hitting “publish”.

    My apologies. Looks like you aren’t just swallowing tabloid media reporting. Looks like you have substantial reason/concrete evidence to believe what you believe. Kinda wish you’d share it with the rest of us.

    I’m not a big MJ fan, by the way. I don’t despise him either, unless he really did molest even one kid, and then, “despise” would not capture it, still. Like apathy lounge said, I’m mostly sad, all around. It’s a really sad, sad story with a catchy tune, mostly.

  33. Yeah, me again, with one last thought:

    Slow news day/slow news week is what I keep thinking. I don’t think the ubiquitous MJ material we’re all subjected to since his death is proof that people thought he was a saint or have forgotten his failings, as much as, his celebrity was earned through talent and his infamy was earned through his celebrity, and mostly, it’s been a slow news week.

    And all these comments by me is proof that I have no business being at the computer at this time of night.

  34. I want to be certain that I’m clear: I do not now have, nor have I ever had an “insider view” or “concrete evidence” (whatever that may mean). My stated belief (and I have only to turn on my television this week to know that not everyone shares it) comes from having closely followed the reported cases. In so doing, I only had access to the same public records and information to which everyone has access. While there have been plenty of news reports spanning over a decade, I found some of the most compelling information in public court documents and Michael Jackson’s own words.

  35. I can’t help but feel sorry for the guy. Despite the horrible things he most likely did. I feel much sadder for the kids, though.

    He had a tragic life. He was beaten as a child, driven past the breaking point to perform, and then was forced to keep at it. He was clearly damaged forever. Despite the fame, despite the fortune, he was a tragic figure. Not that it excuses anything he did, but it just makes the whole situation sad to me. Sad for the kids he violated, sad for the kids he had, sad for him.

  36. PS – I agree with your other commenter who said “why the hell is this so important?” Don’t we have combat troop withdrawal in Iraq by June 30? Don’t we have North Korean posturing? Don’t we have continued Iranian unrest? Why do we care about Michael Jackson and the Oxyclean dude? It doesn’t speak well for American intelligence and interest in world affairs. That’s for damn sure.

  37. I was noodling some more while Laura was making me scrambled eggs this morning and not catching on fire (Laura took a cooking class last week, have mercy). Because I noodle. WAAAAAAAAAY too much for my own good. Clearly.

    I think when people jump on the fan bandwagon and forget all else, it can be distasteful at best (not distasteful like when you’re watching American Idol and become pregnant with twins while hearing Adam Lambert sing “Whole Lotta Love”) and dangerous at worst (like when you let your minor children sleep in Michael Jackson’s bed).

    Maybe even more importantly, I think we can all agree that when people jump on the accusation bandwagon, it can result in witch hunts and innocent lives ruined.


    Before we express our opinions on a particular subject (like how awesome is Adam Lambert, anyway?), I think we ought to be good consumers of information, thus ensuring that the opinions we express are at least as well-informed as possible. But in the end, unless we’re an eyewitness to an event (and even then eyewitnesses don’t always view the event the same), we can consider the available information, and use our education, experiences, and common sense to judge whether we think the information is credible and relevant. Once we’ve considered all available information, then we can draw conclusions for ourselves, and, if we choose to air our opinions in the light of day, we must also accept that not everyone would come to the same conclusion. But isn’t open discourse the best way to share information and reach the most informed conclusions in our society?

    That is all.

    Except for this (heh): I’m sick of discussing Michael Jackson now. I will now quietly mourn the loss of the human being that he was, flaws and all. I will fondly remember and appreciate his music, but I still won’t celebrate his life.

  38. What a great post and follow-up comments, Cheri. My thoughts exactly. I think it’s a shame to idolize him when he victimized those children – regardless of what music he produced or what abuse he had as a kid.

  39. And you know what’s really shitty?

    Seeing his dad Joe, the guy who victimized him, going on TeeVee talking all pious about him – for two seconds, then going on about yet another way he’s going to exploit Michael.

    I’m disgusted.

  40. you and Stephanie (bad mom) sum it up perfectly.

    Knowing that he paid off family after family doesn’t sit well with me. You don’t pay people off if you’re not hiding something.

    And screw it…his messed up childhood did not give him the right to mess with someone else’s childhood. I saw too many of those kids come through the doors of the hospital to give him a pass on that one.

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