I’ve held off on commenting in the minutiae surrounding the Michael Jackson affair, and trial, mostly because it simply didn’t interest me. I have kept a loose eye on it, however, enough to understand that they had his doctor on trial for the death. He’s now been convicted. 
The verdict here seems to me a foregone conclusion, and that troubles me, enough to write about it, for two reasons:
- Because it seems to me to fly in the face of the concept of individual responsibility
- Because it seems to me this verdict is the result of wanting a pound of flesh in revenge for the death of someone who was held high in the ways of star power.
Justice is never well served when either of those points are true.
To the first point, let’s face it…. If there’s one thing we already knew, it was that Jackson, talented or not, was likely a vacuum cleaner for prescription drugs, not unlike Elvis Presley, years ago. That likelihood was well confirmed in the testimony in this trial. We also knew the guy was a full-goose bozo whack job. That seems to have been conformed as well… as if we needed such confirmation.
Does this one doctor bear full responsibility for Jackson’s death, then? Honestly, I don’t think so. Jackson himself must bear at least part of that burden and frankly, most of it, as would any of us. You and I… the individual… are supposed to be front and center in the decision making process as regards out healthcare. (This, as an aside, is one major reason I object so strongly to government-run healthcare.)
Certainly, we can see by his whack-job behavior, that Jackson was well beyond reason for a lot of years, but that point alone does not absolve him of his irresponsibility toward his health and the consequences of it. That irresponsibility was essentially reinforced by his star power. Let’s be honest enough to say that after the string of hits in the 80’s and early 90’s, the guy could spend an entire CD making artificial fart noises and nothing else, and his fans would be buying the things, talking about how talented he was, and that he was breaking new artistic ground, rather than simply breaking wind… and that brings me to the second point; Jackson is being held as innocent by his fans, since he was the star and could do no wrong. But someone has to pay for his death and so this gets heaped on the doctor, and hence the verdict.
Do not mistake me here. There’s no question in my mind the doctor’s more than a bit of a slimeball. But, I have more than a few doubts that justice is actually being served by this verdict and by the as yet unknown punishment attached to it.
Nor is the concept of individual responsibility being served, since in many mindless beings, the blame has successfully been shifted to the doctor and away from Jackson himself. And in the end, justice and the concept of individual responsibility are of larger import than providing a pound of flesh for Jacksons still rabid fans.
Doubtless, this post will generate hatemail. (Shrug) As usual, I couldn’t care less. But it strikes me that such rabid fandom doesn’t bode well for our culture, either.