Stop Telling Me How to Feel about Michael Jackson

Condemnation, denial, tribalism, and Leaving Neverland.

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Michael Jackson (Photo: flickr)

Get off the fence!

On March 8, I participated in a panel on Channel 5’s evening news in London, and we discussed whether radio should continue to play Michael Jackson’s music. Before we went on-air, I got into a premature debate in the green room with a fellow panelist who couldn’t believe I was holding off on condemning Jackson to hell.

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My fellow panelists and me

The fans doth protest too much, methinks

Personally, I don’t understand why they protest so much. What exactly are they protesting? It’s not like abuse allegations against Jackson are new, and just because jurors found him “not guilty” in 2005 doesn’t mean they thought he was innocent. Guilty people get off all the time.

The people who picketed against the documentary in order to defend and protect the reputation of their American idol should consider using their right of protest to fight something that actually threatens their lives.

Then there are those who have been completely swayed by Leaving Neverland. They’re the ones who have made it the all-encompassing story that it has become since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. They’re the ones for whom their own personal enlightenment isn’t enough. They want everyone else to feel their pain over the fallen star and join the movement to erase him from our collective memory, like Henry VIII eliminating an unwanted, inconvenient wife.

The new tribalism

More troubling to me than what Jackson may or may not have done with young children — these charges are so old that I’ve already had decades to process the possibility that they might be true — is the fact that we no longer are allowed to draw our own conclusions about it. It’s so typical of the new tribalism where everything comes down to black or white, right or left, with us or against us.

It’s so typical of the new tribalism where everything comes down to black or white, right or left, with us or against us.

“Let freedom ring” has been an American mantra since 1831, and the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights revolves around individual freedoms, but the one the Constitution — and society — ignores is freedom of thought. Social media has made things worse. We now live in an age where tribes try to manage what we say, what we do, and what we think. If they don’t approve of what we say, do, and think, we’re contrarian trash.

To mute or not to mute

As a blogger and op-ed writer who covers such inflammatory topics as race and sexuality, I have an opinion on just about everything. That includes whether Jackson’s music should be banned.

Written by

Brother Son Husband Friend Loner Minimalist World Traveler. Author of “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?” and “Storms in Africa”

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