Saturday, November 22
The Childhood of Michael Jackson
New York Times, Editorial, November 22, 2003
Unless he is proved guilty in a court of law, Michael Jackson is, of course, presumed to be innocent of the charges that led to his arrest on Thursday. But even before his trial begins — a trial that threatens to suck all of civilization into its maw — there is no doubt that Mr. Jackson is guilty of trying too hard to protect his innocence. Not the legal innocence that is vested in each of us, but the childlike innocence that we set aside sooner or later in order to get on with our lives. Most people have given up having slumber parties with prepubescent children by the time they cease being prepubescent themselves. Most people never need to be exiled from the Neverland of childhood. We leave it willingly on our own.
Of course, Michael Jackson is not most people. A case could be made, though not a legal one, that Mr. Jackson's prolonged innocence — if the better word isn't infantilism — is for him a refuge from a career that both deprived him of his childhood and gave him the means to try to reclaim it. His seemingly helpless protestations of his own pure-heartedness clearly betray a distrust, if not a loathing, of adults. Even if Mr. Jackson's strange behavior were just a matter of trying to bring comfort to afflicted children, that behavior has long since ceased to look selfless to the world around him.
Cruel or not, the world reserves a special kind of contempt for adults who choose to see themselves mainly through the eyes of children. Mr. Jackson has earned that contempt as surely as he has earned our respect for his musical talents.
Jackson on brink of suicide
Eddie Fitzmaurice in London, Sydney Morning Herald, November 23, 2003
Michael Jackson's friends and family fear he may try to take his life rather than face court on child abuse charges.
The star's biographer, J. Randy Taraborrelli, claimed yesterday that Jackson was devastated by the latest allegations - of molesting a 12-year-old boy - and had already warned he lacked the strength to endure a prolonged trial.
Taraborrelli, writing in Britain's Daily Mail, said a member of Jackson's family had told him they were scared Michael "will do himself in".
"The sight of Michael in handcuffs is one the public is not likely to forget," Taraborrelli said. "His police mug shot, in which he stares out blankly with dead eyes, is a chilling sight. It is sure to be a reminder for decades to come - long after Michael is gone - of how wildly his life spun out of control."
Taraborrelli said similar allegations of sexual abuse made against the singer 10 years ago by dentist's son Jordy Chandler, then 13, almost sent Jackson over the brink.
"He became addicted to drugs and were it not for the positive influence of Lisa Marie Presley, to whom he was then married, he might never have recovered," Taraborrelli said.
Jackson, 45, was yesterday reported to be holed up in a Las Vegas hotel as police in California continued to investigate claims of abuse involving cancer patient Gavin Arvizo at Jackson's ranch.
Fox TV claimed that Jackson is accused of plying the youngster with drink and drugs before abusing him.
Jackson surrendered to police in Santa Barbara, California, on Thursday after 70 police swooped on the ranch and spent 14 hours searching for evidence.
He was later released on bail, but is due to face a preliminary hearing on January 9 when his defence team is expected to suggest the allegations were made in the hope of achieving a settlement similar to the $US25 million ($35 million) paid to Jordy Chandler.
Meanwhile, Jackson's case suffered a possible setback yesterday when his former security chief came forward to claim that as many as 300 young children had slept with the singer in his bedroom at Neverland.
Robert Wegner told The Sun the youngsters were "overwhelmingly" boys aged between eight and 12.
Gavin's estranged father, David Arvizo, yesterday revealed he planned to sue for custody, claiming his wife was "crazy" for letting Gavin sleep in Jackson's bedroom.