Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The beatification of St. Michael

I am not a moral relativist.

I do not believe that excessive achievement in one area negates overwhelming evil in any other aspect of life. Adolph Hitler truly loved children and dogs, but does that make him any more than the hideous tyrant he was?

I got in trouble on the home front for commenting on the breathless coverage of Michael Jackson’s travesty of a funeral. I remarked that given the credentials of the anchors and the moment-to-moment narration, the news people were regarding the state funeral accorded Mr. Jackson as a dress rehearsal for the impending assassination of Barack Obama.

Don’t misinterpret this. As much as I loathe The Manchurian Candidate, wishing death upon him is not an option. I am for throwing the rascals out of office, starting next year, before they destroy this country. As a white man of Southern heritage, I am terrified that some disaffected squirrel will turn us further into a banana republic by shooting a president who has failed the principles upon which America was founded. We give the bastards in Congress and the White House the heave-ho at the ballot box; we don’t kill them. Better they should suffer the shame of abject incompetence the rest of their lives.

So much for profundity. All seriousness aside…

I was going to flesh this out with some very bad jokes I heard about Michael Jackson. I had a whole reason for repeating them worked out. It was based on the tenet that we use dark humor to gloss over horror that otherwise boggles our minds. I was going to cite a joke about Lorena Bobbit and Jeffrey Dahmer, and a 9/11 joke, as examples of how we isolate ourselves from horror by saying ridiculous, offensive things that are so absurd they make us laugh in spite of ourselves. It’s the old “laughing to keep from crying” routine.

I won’t do that. Michael Jackson is dead, and I don’t feel too good myself.

Michael Jackson was a hell of an entertainer. He had a unique overabundance of talent. He was also eccentric, to say the least. I recently came across a definition of eccentricity as being “desperate aloneness.” Okay. I can relate to that.

I’m Lynrd Skynrd’s simple man. I don’t think of life in terms of bumper-sticker clichés, but I do accept simple moral tenets that are expressed succinctly in time-honored terms.

One of those things that used to be operative under the moniker “common sense” was “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

In Michael Jackson’s case, this notion goes to the issue of children. Perhaps he was indeed a naïf with a Peter-Pan-syndrome who was only comfortable with other emotionally undeveloped individuals. I am skeptical. I think there was something darker in play, no pun intended.

Even if he was just hanging out with kids for whatever comfort he could glean to compensate for his own abused childhood, what Jackson was doing was inappropriate. He was brought up in a Biblical heritage. There’s something I vaguely recall in the Bible about a time coming to put aside childish things.

I took some heat for making a moral judgment based on sketchy evidence. “He was acquitted!”

Yes, the one time he was brought to trial, the jury said he was innocent. I’m not a lawyer and never played one on TV, but real legal minds have analyzed that case, and found it arguably flawed from the prosecution’s standpoint. O.J. Simpson walked away from a murder charge that was much more concrete on the veracity of the evidence.

There were also the multi-million dollar payoffs to parents who have sold their silence at their children’s expense. I think something happened, and if it did, I cannot find Christian grace to forgive it. Contrary to modern thinking, there is such a thing as a moral absolute. Murder and child molestation are right there at the top of the list. I can be loosey-goosey about drug use, questionable sexual behavior, and venal crimes like driving too fast when the roads are empty, but there are lines that should not be crossed. I cannot accept the moral equivocation that Michael Jackson’s undeniable talent absolves him from whatever transgressions he may have committed with children.

I also cannot accept the proposition that MJ was an “African-American icon.” I cannot accept the notion that a cosmetically-engineered person who genetically engineers his children to be of a different race is an “icon” to his heritage.

Michael Jackson was not a head of state, nor was he a moral leader in the tradition of Martin Luther King. Yet he was made out to be both. Perhaps that is why I’m more sympathetic to the death of Billy Mays. Mays was a soap salesman; Jackson was a song-and-dance man. Billy Mays was buried quietly, with remembrance by loved ones and family. Whatever good will I might have summoned for Michael Jackson vanished in the smoke-and-mirrors of his “memorial”.

I was not entirely joking when I suggested to a truck-driving friend that we steal Jackson’s body, embalm it like Vladimir Lenin, and take it on tour in an 18-wheeler. We’d clean up with St. Michael at the state fairs, tractor-pulls, and empty coliseums where his forlorn fans gather to mourn a “comeback tour.”

One of the eulogists at his “memorial service” proclaimed “Michael will live forever.” Given my belief that there is an afterlife, and we answer to God, I’m not sure I’d want to spend eternity where Michael Jackson might be today.


Blogger camojack said...

"There were also the multi-million dollar payoffs to parents who have sold their silence at their children’s expense. I think something happened, and if it did, I cannot find Christian grace to forgive it."

Well, he's dead now (presumably), so that's between him and his Maker; if (as the aforementioned multi-million dollar payoffs tend to indicate) he was guilty, "it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea"...

July 15, 2009 12:20 AM  
Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Great article Possum. I was a bit annoyed with the excessive coverage of MJ's death and memorial, and like you, found it to be something other than "fair and balanced".

I too thought that MJ was a great entertainer, but was simply astonished at his eccentricities and his descent into weirdness. It's sad really.

Good scripture citation.

Best regards all...

July 15, 2009 7:03 AM  
Blogger Beerme said...

Indeed. With the heat index of the area he most likely now resides, he'll wish he didn't work so hard to lighten his complexion...

July 15, 2009 6:58 PM  

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