I can't believe I'm recommending comments to a post over at the Crunchy Conservative Blog, but there are some good ones. I mean, a poster-boy for Mr. Dreher's favorite topic–child molestation–dies, and we get this one line in an otherwise plaintive piece: "If Jackson really did behave indecently with children, then he was a kind of monster." A kind of monster. I'm not the only person who notices the disconnect and the inaccuracy of the assertion that someone is not responsible for their choices as an adult just because they had a bad childhood. Commenter "alkali" nails it:
June 26, 2009 9:09 AM
1) Without disputing that Michael Jackson's father was a tyrannical and indeed abusive show business parent, I'm not aware of any evidence that he was history's greatest monster. To the extent we have reason to attribute Michael Jackson's odd behavior to his father's abuse, it's because Jackson himself constantly excused his behavior on that basis. To some extent, I'm willing to credit that, but the extremity of Jackson's behavior over the last 27 years (since he recorded Thriller in 1982) suggests that that claim was somewhat self-serving.
It is sort of a smack in the face to all the people I know who overcame abusive childhoods and didn't end up as hideous perverts to say that Michael Jackson didn't have a chance. (There's a part 2 to this comment with a great Bill Murray quote, but it wasn't as relavant to my point.)
June 26, 2009 10:22 AM
As a parent myself, I'd like to insert a caveat into this discussion, along the lines suggested by alkali.
The data we have suggests that Michael Jackson's father was something short of ideal. But it's quite a jump from there to attributing all of Michael's oddness and bad decisions back to dad. Even if (especially if) Michael himself was inclined to blame his father for all this.
Michael Jackson was an adult when he decided to change his skin color, to have his nose disastrously re-engineered, when he decided to go around talking (and singing) in a falsetto voice (and maybe, some have suggested, taking female hormones), when he started wearing lipstick, when he dangled his infant son off a second-story railing, when he formed what are at best inappropriate relationships with small children, on and on. Some of these decisions, the ones around blurring the distinctions between white and black, male and female, were also highly profitable decisions, part of his art.
However bad a daddy Daddy was, and however evil a place Hollywood might be, I just don't see the justice in allocating all the blame for this behavior away from Michael Jackson himself.
Yeah, does everyone in Hollywood mess around with little kids?
The only reason I would be tempted to make excuses for Michael Jackson's behavior is that I liked his work, at least to some degree. But don't you think this would be like making excuses for a priest who molested children by pointing out that he celebrated so many Masses and gave up every Saturday afternoon hearing confessions?
Now, next topic: Andrew Sullivan. I didn't read his eulogy for Jacko which Rod linked to; no time for nonsense right now. However a commenter named "Nomilk" starts off with a great, unanswered question:
June 25, 2009 9:33 PM
My question is why would a crunchy con read, promote, link to, or hat tip Andrew Sullivan?
Ah, but that is the great question. There are several lame answers and non-answers provided in the comments, and one typical call for him to "shut up". Maybe my commenters will do a better job?