Regarding Monday's acquittals in the Michael Jackson case, what can one believe?
- That prosecutor Tom Sneddon - seemingly so similar to the intrepid Inspector Javert tracking Jean Valjean in Les Miserables - did not make the case for guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? Juror Raymond Hultman implicitly countered, with this: "I feel that Michael Jackson has probably molested boys. To be in your bedroom 365 days and not do something more than just watch television and eat popcorn, that doesn't make sense to me. But that doesn't make (Jacko) guilty of the charges that were presented."
- That the jurors looked dispassionately upon all the witnesses, such as the accuser's mother? One juror has said: "What mother in her right mind would allow that to happen - just freely volunteer your child to sleep with someone? That's something that mothers are naturally concerned with." Another juror said: "I disliked it intensely when (the mother) snapped her fingers at us. That's when I thought, 'Don't snap your fingers at me, lady!'" Sounds less like dispassion than detestation - and anger at being dissed.
- That mother and son were not truth-tellers but shakedown artists? How can that be, when the testimony of the experiences of the boy at Neverland were confirmed (a) by eyewitness testimony (of his brothers) and (b) by the similar experiences of at least two boys who - over the past dozen years - settled with Jacko for, oh, about $20 million?
Or maybe we are supposed to believe that:
- Neverland - Never-Neverland? - was not a pederast's lair with pedophilic pornography and "Jesus juice" soft drinks laced with booze.
- The real victim in this and other cases was not a pubescent boy - but Jacko himself, merely a sweet mincing falsetto freak trying belatedly to have the happy childhood he was earlier denied.
- It was all the fault not of Jacko but of blameworthy parents who never should have allowed their sons to be suckered by celebrity predation.
- Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson was wrong in writing: "The testimony of past alleged victims . . . was, to my ears, devastating. It was hard to escape the conclusion that there was a troubling pattern of behavior here - a middle-age man inviting a succession of boys for sleepovers, showing them skin mags, finally paying them off with multimillion-dollars settlements when they threatened to file charges."
- Jacko never said, as he did in a 2002 British television interview: "Why can't you share your bed? The most loving thing to do is to share your bed with someone. It's a beautiful thing. It's very right. It's very loving. Because what's wrong with sharing a love?"
- The circus outside the courtroom did not match the circus within - even unto a Jackson camp follower hiring his own spokesman.
- Jackson may not have been at once done in and saved by his celebrity - as, among others of the rich and famous in California criminal courts, were Robert Blake and the great OJ.
The Jackson acquittals confirm that California is, in fact, a case unto itself.
Still, this is not merely a state but an entire nation consumed by celebrity, even unto its juries - celebrity against which the credibility of practically any accuser shatters. So lofty entertainers (Jacko, Bill Clinton) can do just about whatever they choose, and explaining it rationally to our children becomes an impossible task - as impossible as explaining (or comprehending) priestly predation. Whether a Jackson moonwalk or a presidential look-you-in-the-eye lie, the result is acquittal - and the spin is, well, the system really does work.
But in cases of celebrity, does the system work anymore?
At this freaky moment perhaps we are arrived in a fantasy realm wherein survival requires a suspension of too much belief. And that in turn may lead to this final question deriving from the cases of wacko Jacko and others: Regarding celebrity, at least, do we need to revise the maxim that "no one is above the law"?