Category Archives: Personal Reflections

Teaching Michael Jackson In The College Classroom

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dgAaCUa4nM[/tube]

I couldn’t let the 20th anniversary of the premier of the Black or White video pass by without paying tribute to it. At the same time, I realized that a discussion of this groundbreaking video can be closely tied in with another subject I have been wanting to write about-teaching Michael Jackson in the freshman college classroom.

Most Kids Today Are Aware That Michael Jackson Was Someone Very Big And Famous, But Their Knowledge Usually Begins And Ends With Billie, Jean, Beat It, and Thriller

I have been teaching English classes at a local community college for several years. A few semesters ago I began incorporating Michael’s Black or White video into the curriculum of my English 102 classes, usually as part of our unit on theme and symbolism. In the beginning, I was a little apprehensive. I wasn’t sure how a discussion of Michael Jackson or his work would be received by a group of mostly 18-to-22-year-olds, mixed in with the occasional middle-aged homemaker who has returned to school after a 20-year hiatus of raising a family. I know how most of those 18-to-22-year old kids view Michael Jackson. They’ve all heard of him, of course, and may even be familiar with some of the songs. If pressed, they could probably tell you he was that guy who did Thriller and was famous for doing the moonwalk. They no doubt will know something about the controversies of Michael’s last years; they may be aware that he was the butt of nose jokes and-sadly-pedophile jokes. They realize that he is someone considered great; a legand and icon to their parents’ generation. If they’ve thought much about him at all, they think of him as one of the great old school artists-someone they know is supposed to be revered, but in the same way they regard Shakespeare. In other words, as someone they know is “supposed” to be great art, but who remains for them an enigma enshrouded by mostly ignorance and fear-the fear of the unknown. For just as with Shakespeare, whom students will avoid out of fear and intimidation until a good teacher is able to help tear down that wall, I realize every year that the reason most young people remain ignorant of the art and influence of Michael Jackson is simply that they have never had any kind of exposure to Michael Jackson as a serious subject of study.

Of course, that is starting to change as many universities are beginning to include Michael Jackson studies as a part of their offered academic curriculums. We are at the stage now where there is just enough distance to finally begin acknowledging and assessing Michael Jackson’s importance, not just as a pop icon, but as a serious artist worthy of academic study; as one who is worthy of inclusion in the academic canon. Last year, a very succesful symposium in Chicago was dedicated to the topic of Michael Jackson as a subject of academic study. New books such as Joe Vogel’s Man In The Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson are helping to shed new insight on the serious study of Michael Jackson’s music and art. It also means that as a culture we are finally somewhat getting away from the idea of Michael Jackson as simply a great entertainer, and accepting that, like the Beatles and Bob Dylan (artists who have been subjects for academic study for many years) ), he is among that elite handful of artists whose work has helped define and reshape our culture.  

Books Such As Joe Vogel's New Book "Man In The Music: The Creative Life And Work of Michael Jackson" Are Indicative Of A Growing Interest In The Serious Academic Study Of Michael Jackson's Music And Cultural Legacy

One night, earlier this year, I was in the middle of teaching my class when I heard a familiar falsetto-“shoop!”-coming from the music class across the hall. I realized I was hearing Speed Demon. I had no idea what the music class was covering that night, or how Speed Demon fit into the picture, but I smiled a little inside knowing that Michael’s music was being taught and appreciated. At the same time, it’s a bit ironic to think that the pop Top 40 of our day is now music worthy of serious academic study. Michael Jackson is being taught right alongside Beethoven and Mozart, but somehow that does not feel strange at all.

However,  it’s one thing to teach Michael Jackson in a music class. But an English class? Well, that may not be as far fetched as it sounds. I have been using music as part of my class curriculum for several years. I have found that using music-especially pop music- helps students to comprehend difficult and sometimes dense concepts such as theme and symbolism. And because a song is more compact and immediate than, say, a short story or even a poem, it can be a great way to introduce young students to these concepts.

The first time I actually introduced Michael Jackson into the classroom was as part of a discussion of theme. I played Sign O’ The Times by Prince, which is a great song to use for a discussion of theme and also to discuss artistic motifs’ (themes that may reoccur repeatedly throughout an artist’s body of work). Playing that song usually leads to a discussion of how Prince incorporates apocalyptic themes and imagery into his work. Next, I played Michael’s Stranger In Moscow (which is not only a great song, but also exposes them to something by Michael Jackson other than just Beat It, Billie Jean, or Thriller, which for 99% of them is all they’ve ever heard). The playing of Stranger In Moscow always elicits some great classroom discussions. Among the themes we usually discuss is that of alienation; particularly, in Michael’s case, the alienation of the artist. But we also discuss how the song can be applied to anyone who feels isolated and alone, or as if no one in the world cares. Which, quite frankly, is a theme we can all relate to at some time or other, especially teens. Of course, turnabout is fair play, so the way I usually encourage my students to get involved and listen is to tell them, “Okay, if you guys will be patient and  listen to my old school 80’s music, I’ll let you bring to class and discuss something you like.” What this accomplishes is that it opens the door to dialogue; my students feel that I am interested in what is relevant to them, so in return, they are more open and receptive to listening to…well, as I jokingly say, my “old” music. Except that an interesting thing usually happens once the dialogue has been opened; we usually find that we learn a lot from each other.  And for most of my students-for whom Tupac Shakur is old school- it is often a revelation for them to realize that Michael Jackson is still just as relevant as Chris Brown or Lady Gaga; perhaps even moreso. They learn, in essence, why his music has stood the test of time (in much the same way that Shakespeare still endures, while literary fads may come and go).

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEEMi2j6lYE&ob=av2e[/tube]

But it was not until a few semesters ago that I finally decided to go completely out on a limb, and to set aside an entire class night to discuss and analyze the Black or White video. I made the decision after realizing that it is not only a terrific video for discussing symbolism, what with the Black Panther segment, but also a very fascinating case study in what can happen when symbolism is misinterpreted-or, perhaps, coded in such a way that it is only intended for certain viewers to “get.”

I knew this would be taking a risk. Although I had in the past devoted a few minutes of class time to discussing theme in Stranger In Moscow, I had never before seriously considered the idea of devoting an entire class night to a serious academic discussion of Michael Jackson. I didn’t know how well this would go over; I didn’t know how students would react. After all, like it or not, Michael Jackson remains a very controversial and polarizing figure, one that people either love and revere, or passionately despise (even if, albeit, for all the wrong reasons, but that is a debate for elsewhere). Simply put, I didn’t know what can of worms I might be opening. Nervously; hesitantly, I set aside an evening on my syllabus calendar (which every student receives a copy of on the first night of each semester) and wrote: “Discuss Symbolism In Michael Jackson’s Black or White video.” It was slipped in as casually as any other discussion of any other important literary work or author on the syllabus, and that was exactly how I approached it. This would be an evening dedicated to a very important artistic work by an important American, 20th century artist-no different than any other evening spent discussing Robert Frost’s “Birches” or F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Babylon Revisited. I also gave them an added incentive to take it seriously..by letting them know it would be on their exam!

I am proud to say I have now been regularly teaching the Black or White video as a routine part of my English 102 curriculum for several semesters now, and so far it has been mostly a resounding success. So now I thought I might share a little of what that experience has been like over the past several semesters, and perhaps in so doing, hopefully inspire more teachers to bring Michael Jackson into the classroom.

For me, it’s been a revelation, and not without a few surprises-mostly positive ones.

It's Hard To Fathom That Most Kids Today Have No Idea What A Huge Deal A New Michael Jackson Video Was In 1991

Each class night that I teach Black or White begins, of course, with watching the full length, eleven minute video. Before showing the video, I usually give a brief talk to give them a sense of context, reminding them that this was 1991, and at the time, Michael Jackson was the biggest pop star in the world. By this time, every new video from him was an event; a spectacle. It’s important to give them this sense of context; after all, most of these kids weren’t even born in 1991; at most, they were just babies. Like I said before, most of them do have some idea that Michael Jackson was a huge star, but for most of them, coming of age in the era of Youtube and post-music MTV, it’s hard to even fathom a time when one pop star could command a worldwide television audience of over 500 million viewers with just a single video.

But the real clincher is when I tell them that the video had no sooner been broadcast, then it was almost immediatly panned, condemned, and ultimately banned from MTV. Of course, that gets their attention because they immediatly want to know: What was so bad about it that it was banned? That is when I say, “Just watch…and then we’ll talk about it.”

So for about six minutes, the class sits through what must seem to them a relatively catchy, cute and funny, if albeit harmless enough, peon to racial harmony. “It don’t matter if you’re black or white…” Looking out, I can see many of them bopping along; most of them recognize the song, even if it’s just a distant, childhood memory. At some point, they had all probably heard it, maybe even sang along to it as kids, but then had stored it away in the deepest recesses of their collective, subconscious memories-probably along with Barney the Dinosaur and Ren and Stimpy!

The Michael Jackson Of Black Or White Is A Michael Jackson Most Kids My Students' Age Haven't Known...I Can Always Hear The Audible Gasps When He First Appears In The Video (Especially From The Girls!)

And then, usually, there is an almost audible gasp when they see their first glimpse of the 1991 Michael Jackson, dancing among the aborigines in his skinny black pants and  flowing white shirt, rocking the long hair; his lean dancer’s body lithe as a cat and ready to spring! For many of them, this is a Michael Jackson they have not experienced. They may be familiar with the iconic image of Michael Jackson from his Thriller days; or even moreso, the Michael Jackson of later years who had become the butt of media jokes. My students, after all,  are a generation who have  come of age with the “Wacko Jacko” image perpetuated by the tabloids. Those images of Michael Jackson coming and going from court in 2005 have unfortunately become the only image that most younger kids even know.

But suddenly, they are seeing Michael in his youthful prime, and in that moment, there is a palpable connection made. I can always feel it in the room. Michael is young and beautiful, larger than life on the big projection screen; even a bit dangerous. In that moment, he comes alive again; he becomes relevant again.

However, it is those final, infamous six minutes or so-the Black Panther Dance-in which my students literally become spellbound. But who can blame them? As someone was quoted in “The Making of Black or White,” even if you didn’t like it, could totally care less, you couldn’t pull your eyes away from it. It is in those moments that I see the true magic of Michael Jackson at work. Even the good ol’ macho redneck boys-the ones who could really care less about Michael Jackson-are nevertheless enamored to his every move; no one can tear their eyes away. The Panther Dance sequence is brilliant in its unexpectedness; its juxtapositions of the erotic and the profane; the sexual and the violent.

Most don’t “get it” but they certainly can’t turn away!

When the video is over, it is always the most stunned sort of uncomfortable silence that falls over the classroom. And breaking that silence is always the most awkward moment of the entire lesson. I can feel it in the air; can read it in all their faces. They have gone from enjoying what at first seemed a very fun and catchy video to a stunned “What the bloody hell was that?” In some ways, not so very different from the exact, same way that audiences reacted in 1991.

The Panther Dance...Love It Or Hate It, You Can't Look Away

What can one possibly do in that situation? Where to begin after that, as far as facilitating class discussion? Well, where I begin is with the obvious…and usually, a sense of humor helps. I will say, “I know you’re all thinking, ‘what the bloody heck was that?’ and then I’ll say, “Well, you know what? The first time I ever saw this video, I thought the same thing…and so did a lot of people!”

This is the point where I go into the uproar and controversy caused by the video. As a follow up, I always play portions of “The Making Of Black Or White” which does an excellent job of depicting just how big this thing blew up. I also usually get a few laughs when I mention one of my own fondest memories of that following Monday morning when EVERYBODY was talking about this video. On one radio talk show, an elderly woman called in. They asked her what she thought of the Michael Jackson video. In a quivering voice that could have been anyone’s grandmother, the old woman paused for a minute and then said, “Well, I just think that boy needs to get married, real bad.”  

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_wCABYvNko[/tube]

At this point, we discuss the reactions to the video and the resulatnt condemnation. Was all the uproar and controversy warranted? Students will usually be divided; some saying yes; others no. But most still do not at this point get the truly relevant symbolism, so that is usually where I direct them next.

As a companion piece to the video, I always read with my students Barbara Kaufmann’s excellent essay on this video, “Black and White and Proud.” It is not only by far one of the most insightful pieces I’ve read on the symbolism and historical context of this video, but also, for my own classroom purposes, an excellent model for my students in what good literary criticsm should be. Writing literary criticism (especially coming up with an arguable, persuasive thesis) is a concept that many students struggle with. In using Kaufmann’s essay, it is also a good opportunity for me to teach students how a well written piece of literary criticism does far more than just “explain” the work-when done right, it can open the doors to understanding; can help shed light on the work in ways we may not have previously thought, and can even completely change or alter one’s perception of a work.

http://mjtpmagazine.presspublisher.us/issue/december-2010/article/black-and-white-and-proud

Much of the focus of Kaufmann’s article is about the video’s coded symbolism;the Black Panther symbol’s powerful (if implicit) message, and the historical role of Michael Jackson as a civil rights activist-in ways that many may not have considered before. I know that for my students, especially, the idea of Michael Jackson as a civil rights activist is something of a revelation, and one that I think encourages many of them to view him in a whole different light. Part of class discussion, of course, is encouraging them to agree or disgaree with the points of Kaufmann’s article ( I encourage them that disgareeing is okay, as long as they can back their disagreement with valid and logical points). However, to provide further context for the article, I usually follow up, when time permits, by also showing the clips of Michael’s 2002 speech against Sony, and the 2001 speech in New York with Rev. Al Sharpton. In both clips, students get to see Michael in action as an activist standing up for the rights of black artists. Seeing him in this context helps add validity to both the message of Black or White and Kaufmann’s essay. I tell them the story I was told when I visited Gary, Indiana last year and learned that as recently as the 1960’s, when Michael was a child, “colored people” were not allowed past the downtown railroad tracks after 6pm (which presented a problem for Michael and his brothers, since they were usually playing at downtown clubs long past the 6pm curfew!). I tell them about the racially motivated beating that Michael took right here in our own home state, Alabama-as late as 1983! I tell them, these are not the things you will read in any book; these are not the things the media will report. But yes, Michael Jackson knew racism, and yes, he was angry, and yes, he was an activist in ways many will never know or realize.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9IJVcwbhjU[/tube] 

But this brings up another interesting dilemma when teaching Michael Jackson in the classroom. How does one manage to take this very complex man-whose life has been the subject of tabloid fodder and misunderstanding for over thirty years-and condense the essence of him down to an hour-long class? Every time I prepare for this class, I find myself asking that question. I am thinking, if I have but one hour to maybe change some kid’s mind about Michael Jackson, or to impart a kernel of truth that might somehow make a dent in all of the lies and misinformation the media has programmed into these kids’ brains-what should I say?

Well, just as with teaching any writer or poet I love, I have to realize that I can’t cover everything. What I have to do is to keep the discussion focused and relevant to the topic at hand. However, it’s virtually impossible to talk about Michael Jackson to a classroom of teens and young adults without at least touching on some of the familiar controversies of his life. At various times, discussions of everything from his vitiligo, to his surgeries, to the molestation allegations have come up-and, of course, I have to be prepared to deal with those topics. For the most part, I don’t dwell on the allegations, simply because if I allowed myself to really get carried away on that topic, I could easily spend the entire hour discussing that and nothing else! But if students do ask questions, I answer them honestly and forthrightly, giving them the facts that I have researched. Once, I had an especially inquisitive student who couldn’t help asking: If Michael Jackson really felt so strongly that it did not matter if you’re black or white, why did he bleach his skin to be white?” That question really took me aback. This student was not being a smart aleck; he genuinely believed that Michael Jackson bleached his skin. He was all of eighteen years old, and had never heard any different. All he knew was what the media had told him. So that opened the door for us, as a class, to have a very good discussion about the disease vitiligo. Predictably, most of my students were stunned. They couldn’t understand why the media would withhold such information.

On the flipside, however, I am also very proud to say that most of my students are incredibly smart and savvy. They know how the media operates. What I am always most delighted to learn is that many of them, in fact, have a very genuine and avid curiosity about the man Michael Jackson. They seem for the most part to enjoy this opportunity to get to know a little bit about a man they rightfully feel the media did not allow them to get to know. When we talk about the media injustice to Michael Jackson, I’m very surprised to learn that most of my students “get” that. But perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising. After all, they are a generation that has been in a more privileged position than any other to witness just how quickly the media can tear someone down. They have come of age in a generation where our government and media have lied to us about weapons of mass destruction in order to justify a war we should never have been in; they are, for sure, a more cynical and world-weary generation than we were.

I can’t say with 100% certainty what my students take away from these discussions. If they hate Michael Jackson, of course, they probably aren’t going to tell me-I’m the teacher, after all! But judging from the cumulative responses so far, I know for certain that most of them come away from that one hour with a better understanding of Michael Jackson, both the man AND the artist-than they’ve ever had before. When it comes time for the exam question on Black or White, I am always both amazed and touched at the depth with which my brightest students are able to analyze how and why the “coded symbolism” of The Black Panther works, whether to enhance, expand upon, or deflect from the video’s message of racial equality. Ultimately, what I hope they take from it is that Michael’s message of racial equality is an ideal-a beautiful one, at that. But before that ideal can be achieved-before it is even possible-we first have to purge a lot of the ugliness. The ideal cannot be achieved as long as racial injustice still exists. The Black Panther Dance, with all of its violence and pent-up rage, is the catharsis that has to happen before true healing and equality can be achieved.

Yes, an hour is a very short time in which to make a difference. But I don’t regret undertaking this challenge. For one hour every semester, I get an opportunity to introduce my students to a man, an artist, a humanitarian, and an amazing civil rights activist they never knew. I give then an opportunity to meet Michael Jackson, the human being.

As for Michael Jackson, The Caricature, he will still be out there, long after my students have moved on from English 102. But somehow, I doubt The Caricature will  ever hold quite the same appeal for them.

Truth has a funny way of doing that.

 

Verdict Watch, Share Your Thoughts and Reactions Here

 

A Little Of This Goes A Long Way

I have a bad feeling that the jury is going to come back with their verdict sometime today. I know you’re probably thinking, Why is that bad? Well, it is going to be bad for me in that case because I have to be at work all day and won’t get to catch anything live! I personally wouldn’t mind a Tuesday verdict, since I’m off on Tuesdays, but that’s a long time to stretch out the pins and needles just for my sake (lol).

Anyway, we know there are only two, or possibly, three ways this can go: “Guilty,” “Not Guilty,” or a hung jury. Regardless of the outcome, it’s going to be very emotional for everyone. I have a feeling we’re all going to be very elated, or very outraged, depending. In anticipation, I’m creating this post, a place where we can share those emotions-to celebrate, or to vent, or just to cry on each others’ shoulders, depending on how it all goes down. Please post all verdict-related comments, thoughts, and reactions here.  If the filter holds your comments, I will release them as soon as I get home tonight. And if the verdict comes in today, I will join you in either celebration or commiseration as soon as I can!

ETA: Guilty! I was almost tempted to post one of Murray’s handcuff pics here this morning, in celebration. But just as I was about to do so, I  saw this from CNN. Com:

Rowlands said that Murray, who was mostly expressionless during the verdict, looked at his daughter who was in tears when he was being handcuffed at the defense table.

Having gone through this very traumatic experience myself with recently having to see a  loved one handcuffed-and knowing how that feels-I just couldn’t. So please forgive me for not going there. I am happy about the verdict, but out of respect for Murray’s children who have done nothing wrong, I decided against using those photos just to gloat. It is enough for me to know justice has been served, even though the reality is that this verdict is more symbolic justice than actual justice. Still, there’s no denying, there is finally some sense of closure today.

MJ "Fans" Who Support Murray?

A Disturbing Trend of Support For Murray From Some MJ Fans? It Seems To Come Back To This Arguement: Was Murray Michael's Friend-Or His Killer? Or Both?

In the last few days I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. A relatively small-but seemingly growing-percentage of people who call themselves Michael Jackson “fans”  seem to be in support of Murray’s acquittal. Note the quotes around the word “fans.”  I’m having a personally hard time getting my hands around this.

But I think a lot of it may have to do with recent comments from former MJ bodyguards Javon Beard and Bill Whitfield.

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/entertainment&id=8419877

To paraphrase some of what Beard and Whitfield have said, they basically feel that Michael wouldn’t have wanted Murray to be on trial, would not want him charged in his death, and certainly would not like the private details of his life being made into a public spectacle (this last part I agree with, but as I’ve acknowledged myself here, it’s part of the price for justice in this case). They contend that Murray was a good guy, a friend whom Michael obviously trusted. They also cotend that Murray would not have killed “his paycheck.” This I don’t get, since Murray isn’t being charged with murder, but rather involuntary manslaughter. Translation: No, he didn’t INTEND to kill his paycheck. But he did.

 

Michael's Former Bodyguards, Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard-Seen Here On Their GMA Appearance Along With Mike Garcia-Have Been Largelyg Responsible For Fueling A Misguided Move Among Some Fans To Support The Acquittal of Conrad Murray

Anyway, here is a very big problem. Once you have MJ “insiders” coming forth with this kind of talk, it creates a sheep effect. You will have fans who actually agree that, indeed, this must have been how Michael felt. This is the sort of thing that also leads to division within the fan base, which has already happened far too many times.

Well, let’s put this in perspective. It’s also irritatingly “sheep”-like when we allow ourselves to get caught up in this view that we are supposed to just automatically and blindly go along with anything we believe Michael would have thought-let alone when it’s only someone telling us what he thought. The only person who really knows what Michael Jackson thought-or would think now-is Michael Jackson. And he’s not here to tell us.

Michael probably did think very highly of Murray and perhaps even considered him a friend. That’s why the guy had his $150,000 -a-month position in the first place. But the idea of Murray as Michael’s trusted “friend” goes right smack to the heart of this whole case, which is what the prosecution has argued all along: Murray violated the sacred doctor/patient relationship when he allowed himself to cross that boundary and become a “friend.” And even the word “friend” I use loosely because, frankly, I’m not in any way convinced that Murray was a friend to Michael, though I’m sure he did a good job of convincing Michael that he was his friend.

 

Before We Get Too Caught Up In This Idea of Murray As "Sacrificial Lamb" Let's Re-Examine The Facts

I think where a lot of this is stemming from is the notion of conspiracy theories and the knowledge that Murray is not “the whole picture,” that the culpability for Michael Jackson’s death goes far beyond just Murray. There are some who sincerely believe that Murray is just a sacrifical lamb, being sent to slaughter for all of the other accountable vultures and enablers in Michael’s life. Aphrodite Jones wrote a great blog on just that topic for Investigation Discovery:

http://blogs.discovery.com/criminal_report/2011/11/aphrodite-jones-reports-conrad-murray-criminally-negligent-or-sacrificial-lamb.html

This is something I have never disputed. I even said that I agree with Chernoff’s closing statement that Murray was simply a “little fish in a big, dirty pond.”  And, yes, I do feel bad in a way that this one man is being made the scapegoat when there are a lot of others accountable as well. But we have to remember what this charge is really all about. It is about who/what led directly to Michael’s death on the morning of June 25th, 2009. Not who or what may have led him up to that morning.

As I’ve said before, accountability has to begin somewhere! In an ideal situation, every single doctor who ever prescribed drugs that he/she knew Michael didn’t need; every single shady character and leech surrounding him who enabled, or turned a blind eye when they knew he needed help, or who may have plotted against him or undermined his health and well being, or who  added to the stress that exacerbated his insomnia, etc etc etc, would be on trial. But we all know this is not an ideal world, and it’s not going to happen.

So is it fair to make this one man, Conrad Murray, the so called sacrifical lamb? This is what the bodygurads seem to be questioning. But questioning whether this is fair is a flawed arguement that I fear  some fans are starting to buy into. Before you allow yourself to get snared in this line of thinking, consider a few things:

Dr. Steven Shaffer expertly outlined no less than 17 egregious violations of the standard of care in regards to Murray’s “treatment” of Michael Jackson. By now, we know most of them by rote, but let’s have a little memory lesson here. We know as fact-not rumor or hearsay, but as fact-that Murray:

Voluntarily administered propofol-a dangerous anesthetic-in a home setting

Did not bother to use the proper monitoring equipment

Abandoned his patient

Was on the phone, texting, and sending emails for over 45 minutes

Delayed calling 911 (for what purpose, whether to hide evidence or what, we can only speculate)

Failed to perform basic CPR

Lied to paramedics about what he had given Michael, at a crucial time when this knowledge might have made a difference in life or death

Lied to medical staff at UCLA

And these are just the basic eight violations that were most glaringly egregious; it does not even include the many more technical violations of the standard of care that were violated.

Now, you can look at any one of those violations and make the arguement: But for this, Michael Jackson might still be alive!

This is what we have to keep in mind before we get too caught up in “sacrificial lamb” theories. Murray may have been Michael’s friend; he might even be a good guy but for making some very stupid, blundering mistakes on the morning of June 25th, and maybe trying too hard to keep his employer happy. But none of this absolves his guilt. Sacrifical lamb or not, the above violations of the standard of care are not disputable. They are fact. Those “blundering mistakes” cost MJ his life.

Murray may well be just a little fish in a big, dirty pond, but this goes back to what I said here a few days ago: Let’s not forget, he’s still one of the fish. And he is the fish whose irresponsible actions led directly to Michael’s death.

Accountability has to begin somewhere. If not Murray-the man directly responsible-then who?

To adress a few other issues and misguided myths head on:

That Murray Was Michael’s Friend, And He Wouldn’t Want His Friend On Trial:

Yes, well let’s not forget that whatever Michael thought of Conrad Murray, it would be what he thought of him up to and UNTIL the morning of June 25th, 2009. If Michael could communicate with us now-with the ability of hindsight from the grave-would he still feel the same way about the man who has taken him away from his children, his family, his fans, his comeback, his dreams for the future? We all know Michael had a very forgiving heart, so who knows what he might say, but I honestly think if death provides 20/20 hindsight and he is aware of all the details we know now, he just might feel very differently towards his former friend.

Michael Wouldn't Be Happy For Us To Know A LOT Of Things, Including Even Down To How Messy He Could Be...But It Goes With The Price For Justice

That Michael Wouldn’t Be Happy About Having The Private Details Of His Life Paraded On Trial:

Well, no one is arguing that. Just as I’m sure he wasn’t happy to have every detail of his private life made public in 1993, or 2005. He wouldn’t be happy about this trial taking place, but I’m sure he also isn’t happy to be dead. Michael was an intensely private man, but the paradox is that he was also a public figure, and one of the most intensely scrutinized public figures of all time. There were many, MANY things Michael was not happy about being made public over the course of his career. Even now, I blush at some of the details I know that, quite frankly, I probably shouldn’t. Michael would not have been happy for us to know what kind of porn he read, or what he used to treat his vitiligo, or that his penis was uncircumsiced and splotchy. He wouldn’t have wanted us to know that he liked his wine and occasional whisky, or even that he was a bit of a hoarder and messy packrat (something Michael and I nevertheless share in common, haha). For that matter, I’m sure Michael wouldn’t have exactly been thrilled with Beard and Whitfield going public on Good Morning, America about his having romantic trysts in the back of the limo, or having tantrums and throwing cell phones out the window! No, there are a lot of things Michael wouldn’t want us to know but have nevertheless become common, public knowledge. It’s sad that his life and privacy were violated so often and in so many ways. But it is what it is. This is exactly what I meant when I said that justice for Michael will not come without scars. No one ever said it wouldn’t involve some pain, discomfort, and sacrifice. But what is the alternative? No justice at all? Where do we make that stand, and say, okay, it may involve taking some lumps, but we need to do that because a death has occurred that didn’t need to happen? Nothing could have been more painful; more degrading; more humiliating; more downright dehumanizing than what was done to Michael’s private life during that circus of a trial in 2005. I honestly think if Michael was here, he would say, “I survived a lot worse than this.”  Of course, the ideal situation would have been for Murray to just plead guilty and save all the trouble and heartache. But no, that would have been too easy.

That Michael Trusted Conrad Murray:

Yes, well Michael trusted a lot of people. That was part of his problem. He also trusted Martin Bashir, Evan Chandler, the Arvizos, Schmuley Boteach, and a lot of others he should never have trusted. In fact, looking at the long list of people Michael “trusted” in his life should be evidence enough to shoot that arguement down in flames.

If Michael Could Speak Now, I'm Sure He'd Tell Us Plenty About The People He "Trusted."

I just had to say this because I am personally appalled that there are people who call themselves fans that are actively supporting Murray’s acquittal. It is disturbing on so many levels. If you’re a fan who thinks Murray should be acquitted, even despite his actions that we know he committed-what are you saying? That it’s all okay; all is forgiven? Conrad Murray never once played it straight with us; he never played it straight to Michael’s family, to the paramedics working feverishly to save him, or to anybody. What do we owe this man now? Seriously.

Well, maybe this is a good time to share a dream I had awhile back. I dreamed that Murray was acquitted. In the wake of his acquittal, he started touring the country, performing MJ songs. Yes, that’s right. In my dream, Murray could no longer make a living as a doctor, so he was touring as a Michael Jackson tribute artist! (Go figure, lol). But the most disturbing part of the dream was this: There were fans actually buying tickets to his shows, and cheering him.

When I woke up, my immediate thought was, Thank God, that was just a dream! A silly nightmare that would NEVER happen in real life.

Now I’m starting to wonder.

ETA: I do want to stress that this seems to be only a very small minority of fans, but it’s just something that I felt very strongly about after having seen Whitfield’s and Beard’s comments, and some fan comments in support of their position.  This is a time when we all need to come together, put aside all other disputes, and pray for justice. I realize a conviction for Murray is only a kind of partial justice, but we still need very much to be united on this front.  Remember what  we’ve learned and what has been testified these past six weeks: Murray bears responsibility in this, and he deserves a conviction.