Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Criminal Autopsy of Michael Jackson

by Kathryn Casey

Today, huge crowds will gather in L.A. to memorialize
Michael Jackson. More than a million-and-a-half people tried to get tickets. I do understand. Right out of the gate, I want to say how much I enjoy his music. He was an amazing artist and an exciting performer, and I sometimes find myself humming his songs while I write. "Billy Jean" is my favorite.

That said, I'm uncomfortable with this outpouring of adulation and the massive media coverage it's scheduled to receive. There's little beyond a presidential inauguration that merits live coverage on six networks. But that's what we're doing today for Jackson's service. Why? Come on, folks. Why are we doing this? Especially when we consider the circumstances of his life and his death.

I am sincerely very sorry for Michael Jackson's children, for his family. For them, this is a true tragedy. But why are we making Jackson a hero in death, when he wasn't in life? The truth is that Jackson was a very troubled man. Need proof? Look at the way he paid doctors to disfigure his own face.

Second: He was an addict. For many years, Jackson was known to be addicted to prescription meds. His family tried to stage an intervention. In his final months, friends worried about his drug use. It was so bad that just weeks before his death, Jackson begged a nurse to inject him with Propofol, a powerful anesthetic used exclusively in operating rooms. Despite the drug's dangers, it appears that he found someone to hand it over to him, since the drug was found in his home. Autopsy results aren't in yet, but will anyone be surprised to find out that Jackson's death is the result of some misuse of narcotics?

This at a time when prescription drug abuse is a growing trend among teenagers. In January 2008, around the time actor Heath Ledger died of a combination of prescription drugs, a study was released that showed today's teens abuse prescription meds more than any other type of drug, with the exception of pot. Yet here we are, again as we did with Ledger, portraying the death of a celebrity who died of such drug abuse as a national tragedy.

What message does this send to our children?

Then there's the way past child molestation charges against Jackson are being white-washed in the media. Now I haven't seen everything, so if your experience is different than mine, perhaps you're watching other channels, reading other articles? What I've noted is an ongoing tribute to Jackson the performer and a write-off of the questions surrounding his behavior with children. Whenever it's brought up, I've heard a brief mention of his 2005 trial on charges of child sexual abuse and an immediate dismissal of the case's validity.

"He was acquitted," Matt Lauer quickly said when Vanity Fair's Maureen Orth mentioned the trial on the Today Show.

Orth agreed but then went on to peg the reason for the not guilty verdict not on Jackson's innocence but his talented legal team, especially defense attorney Thomas Mesereau, who all but put the mother of Jackson's 13-year-old accuser on trial instead of Jackson. In the end, many press reports theorized that jurors voted not guilty more out of contempt for the boy's mother than support of the King of Pop. (That's Jackson showing up at court in his pajamas on the right.)

But the 2005 allegations weren't the only ones. Remember the 1993 case, dropped after Jackson settled with another young boy and his family for a reported $22 million? I do.

My point is that there are certainly a lot of questions about Michael Jackson. This man is not a role model, not someone to be idolized. Yet that's what we're doing. Through this over-the-top coverage, we're buying into the myth of Michael Jackson the tragic superstar, and we're setting him up to be remembered for decades to come, especially by our children, as a fallen hero. Is that really what we want to do?

Personally, I'm left regretting that there isn't some kind of test that could be run on autopsy to confirm or disprove allegations that the man Jackson looked at in the mirror each morning was a pedophile.

In the week following his death, Jackson was autopsied twice. First up was an L.A. County coroner. Then, due to questions about the circumstances surrounding Jackson's demise, a private autopsy commissioned by the Jackson family. Once the medical examiners made the "Y" cut through Jackson's chest, sternum to belly button, they inspected his internal organs, his heart, lungs, his kidneys and his liver. They used a saw to slice through his skull and examined his brain. Theoretically, they should have been able to diagnose all the superstar's illnesses.

Pedophilia, however, doesn't show up on autopsy. Experts could run every known test on Jackson's brain and not uncover evidence either proving or disproving the claims made against him over the past sixteen years. The result is that without some concrete evidence emerging, Michael Jackson has taken his secrets to the grave.

So I'm left wondering about the wisdom of turning Jackson's death into a national tragedy, and I'm uncomfortable about celebrating the life of a man who abused drugs and may have victimized young children. What about the rest of you?


shthar said...

Why all the hatin?

Just remember Billie jean, and beat it.

Patty said...

Right on Kathryn! I have been watching all of this with disbelief that since he died all appears to be forgotten and forgiven by most. These are some of the same people that appeared to hold him in contempt just a few years ago.

Kathryn Casey said...

No one is hatin,here, shthar. But why make Jackson a fallen hero. He's not.

Kathryn Casey said...

It really is ironic, isn't it, Patty? What a strange world we live in.

Anonymous said...

Great article. I have never figured out why people forget and forgive a person when they die. When a predator dies his death does not heal the victim.


Anonymous said...

We made Elvis into what he became. So, too, did we with Michael. He lived a troubled life and yet his music and his talent touched the entire world. He has, by now, endured his final judgement, by the only entity capable of judging him. Do not glorify him - he was, alas, only a man. Celebrate the music. Celebrate the talent.

Anonymous said...

I have a completely different feeling about Michael Jackson. I am not a big fan. But I see his life as tragic.

I have an 11 year old son and while we are not "following" the hoopla, we do watch the Today show every morning - so there is no way around the media saturation. The message my son is getting from watching and discussing MJ's life and death is how sad life can be for some people and how drug abuse (legal or not) can alter a person's life.

In regards to the allegations of pedophilia: WHAT PARENT SENDS THEIR CHILD TO SPEND THE NIGHT AT A GROWN MAN'S HOME???? ESPECIALLY ONE THAT IS SET UP LIKE AN AMUSEMENT PARK?????????? No charges against MJ were ever confirmed. And how much more vulnerable could he have been? Anyone looking to pawn their child for a cash return would have taken an invitation from Mr. Jackson for a veritable trip to the bank. I would like to believe that no parent operates that way, but then I too would be a fool.

MJ was weird. He was on drugs. But somehow, I believe his fate was sealed before he ever reached the age of consent. You've got a child that is on a rigid performance schedule in the early 1970's before anything that was prescribed was questioned. How does he stay awake to give a rousing performance night after night? How does he sleep after having revved up for said performance?

I am sure his judgment was impaired before he even knew what judgment was. I would venture to guess that his riches afforded him the opportunity to chase the childhood he never had. My personal take on his life is that he desperately wanted to BE a little boy - not have one sexually.

And under no circumstances EVER would I have allowed my son to spend the night at his home. It is my responsibility to keep my son safe. Not Michael Jackson's.


Kathryn Casey said...

Thanks, Aster and Anon 9:35.

You make some good points, Anon 9:44, but I disagree with what our children are learning from this. As an adult, you can put MJ's life in perspective. Children don't have the experience to do so.

I fear, as I said in the post, that what our children see is the world glorifying a troubled man, an addict who most likely died of a drug overdose/ misuse.

As to the abuse charges, to some extent you're arguing the line MJ's attys did at the trial, and there's some validity to it. Still, there was evidence, including that the 2005 boy accurately described MJ's genitals and that there were similarities in the accounts of the children who made the charges, showing a pattern.

I haven't studied this case, but perhaps others who have will weigh in.

Paralegal Sandy said...

NOTHING people do shocks or amazes me any more. It's just par for the course. Drugs are taking over, ruining and wasting so many lives. People killing people without blinking and eye. People abusing and taking advantage of their fellow man. And the list of stupid things people do just goes on and on and on.
As for this particular subject and what I think about it, anyone idolized just because they are talented or famous is rediculous. There are many talented musician, actors, actresses, etc. Some, like Jackson, made millions of dollars. I think it's a shame that a 21 year old father and husband goes to war and fights for our freedoms and priviledges in this country, looses his life and his family is left trying to live on enough money to barely get by. Same for police officer and firemen. Why does a baseball player make so much money when the ones that risk their lives to protect us every day can barley make enough money to make a living. There's just something wrong with the whole picture.

Anonymous said...

Kathryn,I didn't follow the trial. I wasn't aware of MJ's attorney's arguments. I am only going by my own assessment.

I agree with you as far as children at large getting a wrong perspective from the media glorifying MJ. Without any guidance.

I am an adult and I do have an adult perspective and I feel like it is my responsibility to share the benefit of that perspective with my son as he encounters situations in his life. Such as watching a media icon die of prescription drug abuse.

What a plethora of opportunity to teach my son to be responsible!! To not rely on anyone - including doctors - to be his moral compass, but to develop and listen to his own still small voice.

I guess my personal crusade is to keep reminding anyone who will listen that society will never take careful and loving responsibility for our children. That is our job as parents. Not only to protect our children, but to prepare them.

And when is "too young" to discuss any issue with our children? Never - if the issue is in your face and coming at you. As is the case with Michael Jackson's life and death.

Innocence is now something that has to be groomed and guarded if we want our children to maintain it.

Let's do our job as parents and stop waiting for society to grow kinder and more considerate of their needs.


Kathryn Casey said...

All very true, Tara.

Jan C, said...

MJ's situation shows just how dangerous it is to be so rich and powerful that there is no one left to speak up when behavior is inappropriate.

No "normal" person would be able to have sleepovers with children. No "average" person would have such easy and ongoing access to powerful narcotics.

We shouldn't idolize any person. No man, or woman, can handle such pressure. It magnifies and twists existing mental disorders.

Being a great singer, or baseball player, or writer doesn't excuse criminal behavior. At least it shouldn't.

Leah said...

Great post, Kathryn. "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough" is my MJ favorite.

I think it was the prosecution that lost the sexual abuse case. Not that they even had a good one from the start. I think they felt they had to move forward with the prosecution lest hate groups get started about how people with fame & money don't have to deal with the penal system as the rest of us do. What I find really telling about the sexual abuse case is that they didn't remove his children from his home and investigate from that angle. That is typically how a person who is accused of sexual abuse is treated. It is standard protocol after all yet LE & Social Services didn't feel that is own children needed to be protected from him.

That said, most people are loved by someone, even when it seems that person hasn't a single redeeming quality. What I find so sad is that people like MJ and Anna Nicole Smith have a ton of financial resources & people that love them, yet they can't seem to reach out and be helped.

Leah said...

Great post, Kathryn. "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough" is my MJ favorite.

I think it was the prosecution that lost the sexual abuse case. Not that they even had a good one from the start. I think they felt they had to move forward with the prosecution lest hate groups get started about how people with fame & money don't have to deal with the penal system as the rest of us do. What I find really telling about the sexual abuse case is that they didn't remove his children from his home and investigate from that angle. That is typically how a person who is accused of sexual abuse is treated. It is standard protocol after all yet LE & Social Services didn't feel that is own children needed to be protected from him.

That said, most people are loved by someone, even when it seems that person hasn't a single redeeming quality. What I find so sad is that people like MJ and Anna Nicole Smith have a ton of financial resources & people that love them, yet they can't seem to reach out and be helped.

Kathryn Casey said...

I don't disagree, Leah. And I am very, very sorry for the Jackson family, especially MJ's children. For them, his death certainly is a tragedy. What bothers me is that this man is being portrayed as an idol. I heard one guy on TV talking about Jackson this morning with all the fervor of a preacher, as if MJ were a god.

IMHO, this is over the top.

Greyhaunt said...

I think what we have is a classic case of history being rewritten to suit the case of the victor (in this case the Jackson family and fans).

Richard III is remembered as being a cruel hunchback, and yet there is evidence that this was just slander put about by his enemies - who won. In the case of Jackson instead of dragging out the tar and feathers, the winners are dragging out the gilding and lilies, as if a gold covered coffin will somehow hide the dark reality that was the man's life.

And for all his wishing to be a boy, he was a man as the overt sexuality of many of his "dance" moves proved. His life was nothing more than a lot of smoke and mirrors that hid a deeply mentally ill man. If he had been just any normal person he would have been under a psychiatrist's care decades ago and he would never have had the kind of access he did to those prescription drugs.

I feel sorry for his children, who like it or not will now have to face the reality which is called "Life" that they have been sheltered from for so long. I feel sorry for his family's loss, although I think they will gain quite a bit from it in the end. I also feel sorry for the people who really made contributions to video and music and dance that the credit for which is all being heaped on him.

It would be nice to see the truth of his life finally come out, but I think that his family will throw all their efforts into preventing that - although I think in the case of some it will be more for their own sake than for the sake of his memory.

Kathryn Casey said...

Good points, Greyhaunt. Thanks for commenting!

Leah said...

I understand how you feel Kathryn. I think sometimes the loved ones left behind suddenly find sainthood where there were once flaws. It's like because they are deceased, nobody can be mad at them anymore. I sat through an uncle's funeral back in the early 1990s and while I cared for my uncle, he was a total a$$ while he was living and I couldn't get over all the nice things that were being said about him. I mean, he was no child molester. In fact, to the best of my knowledge he was always a law abiding citizen, but he was a complete jerk to everyone that knew him. That seemed to change all of a sudden, upon his death. Unbelievable isn't it....that some people are afraid of speaking ill of the dead.

I also think that part of what you are talking about has to do with the trend of celebrating ones life, rather than mourning. Just trying to focus on the positive side of a person rather than his shortcomings.

Kathryn Casey said...

I understand why the family is doing this, Leah. I sincerely do, and I certainly don't begrudge them during this sad time. I just don't understand why the rest of the world is buying into it.

Rose said...

I completely agree Kathryn. This isn't the first time that I have personally lived through a death, although I didn't know MJ personally, and questioned what it is about death that memorializes a person and puts a seal on the facts that surround the life that they lived/and continue to live through others.

Several of those facts are:

You can be a sexual man, and a pedophile at the same time.

You can be a talented artist, and a very disturbed individual at the same time.

Regardless of what he did with children sexually, (or didn't do), he was highly inappropriate via "Jesus juice", sleepovers, etc....

Additionally, as a very protective parent myself and one who spent years in the child welfare system (as a professional), my child is my responsibility indeed. However, if someone hurts him, regardless of my moment of neglect, they are still 100% to blame for their behavior. Although I am still to blame for looking away.

I hope that makes sense and doesn't offend anybody.

Good blog post, a topic I've been thinking on for days.

Kind of nice to have a break from constant Jon and Kate plus 8 news anyway.

Kathryn Casey said...

Yeah, although I do wonder what'll happen to those eight kids when they get the divorce. Sure is a crazy world.

LadySheila said...

Right with 'ya, Ms. Casey (wow, great minds, think alike). My humanness does not understand why some could even consider the heinous
crimes that abound. My solace is that I know everything has been repeated since Adam and Eve. Nothing is new. Anyone could fall prey to the sales pitches of the evil side should we decide to hang out with them long enough (you become like what you are around). On the other hand, you can be changed by the renewing of your mind, and that is the trouble. Very few people want to learn anything other than what they already know, whether or not they are wrong. They actually believe, then, that they are right and this is amazing to me, that people are so closed minded. But it has been written that that is exactly the case as is our insatiable desire for idols. When Moses died, all of his followers wanted his body (so they could worship him in death). God had Moses climb to a mountain where the Lord (Jesus) buried him himself, so they couldn't make an idol of him. Gabriel (an angel) even argued with Satan about the body right there on the mountain. We humans. Thank God, He has rescued us from our mortality (and made sense of all of the wackery!)

Kathryn Casey said...

Today, I can across a fascinating analysis of Jackson's sexuality by a psychology professor at Northwestern University: http://www.scientificblogging.com/j_michael_bailey/was_michael_jackson_pedophile

Anonymous said...

Tara seems to be very judgmental towards the mothers (just like the lawyers). And although it wouldnt have been MY choice she is also forgetting that these kids were all cancer patients.

Who wanted to go to Neverland to be with their hero.

They are not the only ones who accused him either.

His staff accused him on top of other paid of children. And lets not forget what Kathryn said about the similar genitals of the original acccusers.

LadySheila said...

Ms. Casey, thank you. I am going to to go look this up.

Anonymous said...

Tara here.

Yes, cancer or no cancer I do judge/assess parents that don't take responsibility for their children.

I think allowing your child to spend the night with a pop star IS a form of idolatry. And allowing your child to spend the night with a grown, single man IS irresponsible.

Again, I am not a fan of Michael Jacksons, but I don't want to commit to believing that he committed a horrible crime based on media coverage rather than actual knowledge.

Alternatively, I don't commit to believe he was a wonderful humanitarian based on media coverage.

The truth is I DON'T KNOW Michael Jackson. Anymore than anyone else here does.

I do know that if one of my friends or family came to me and said that their son (or daughter) was going to be spending the night with a single man - famous or not - I would try to talk them out of it.

Spend enough time in the child welfare system and you WILL begin to believe that society is responsible for raising our children.

Which leads to parents having children and failing to recognize their personal responsibility to those children.

I have yet to hear a child or adult thank the child welfare system for being a great parent.

Legally Fabulous said...

I'm a couple days late in posting my comment, but just wanted to say that I COMPLETELY AGREE.
Couldn't have said it better myself.

CJ Social Worker said...

I stopped listening to Jackson when I was convinced he abused those kids.

As far as convicting him in a court - I just think it is very, very difficult to convict any famous person.

I remember working an a domestic violence case with a sports figure as the def. It was a very typical case with good evidence. The jury found him not guilty and got autographs after.

Peter said...

What you have written is absolutely true. I stumbled across it as I was looking for an article about Michael.
I’m really looking forward to reading all of your archives. Terrific job, keep it up!

Kathryn Casey said...

Thanks, to everyone who weighed in. It's appreciated.

Anonymous said...

What does it mean now that Jackson's autopsy revealed he was healthy and that no other arcotics other than the ones given to him that killed him were found? Or that he did have vitiligo and even surgery from his pepsi commercial incident? Besides that, his accomplishments were gonna warrant mass coverage no matter what. If Jordan were to die, the same thing despite his own flawed personal life. He isn't a role model for kids in terms of his gambling and philandering, but that's not what's the focus. As for the molestation incident, we just have to keep a mind of what we don't know. We honestly don't know what happened. We can't simply lambast behavior that seems strange to us, yet not overlook questionable behavior. Many people would declare black nationalists as violent hate-spewers, but that isn't a fair label. Especially since we celebrate a noted criminal, murderer with a national holiday (Christopher Columbus).