Michael Jackson: Icon or Pervert?

There’s quite a brouhaha in the news about the YouTube video posted by New York Congressman Peter King, in which he rails against the media for over-hyping the death of Michael Jackson. King says that with all of the men and women dying in Afghanistan and other conflicts, the media should not be spending quite so much time covering the death of a celebrity who–in King’s opinion–is a “pervert” and a “pedophile.” He downplays Michael Jackson’s contribution to the musical industry (“He did some dancing”) and implores people to focus on honoring those who, in his estimation, deserve to be honored: soldiers, teachers, doctors, etc.

I do agree that the media coverage has been excessive, and I fully support King’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech on this issue. However, given King’s anti-gay rights voting record and overall conservatism, I can’t help but wonder about his definition of “pervert,” and just how far that extends. Yes, there were plenty of accusations of child molestation against Michael Jackson, and a lawsuit that was settled out of court, but he was never convicted of the crime. To refer to him as a “pedophile” so publicly and so soon after his death, without any consideration for his grieving children or his family, is really bad form.

My own opinion? I loved Michael Jackson’s music, but he gave me the creeps in his later years. His face was scary and mutiliated from plastic surgery, and his “eternally-young” baby-voice whisper was difficult to reconcile with his incessant crotch-grabbing when he performed. And King is right about one thing: I would absolutely not trust Michael Jackson along in a room with my own children.

Even so….the man is dead, and there are people who want to mourn his loss. It’s not up to Pete King to tell people how they should grieve, or for whom. I know there are lots of people who agree with King 100% on this, and are glad that he spoke up. I do agree that the media coverage is over-the-top, but so is King’s enthusiastic tear-down of Michael Jackson.

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