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What if Michael Jackson Had Been Black?

The big question surrounding the Michael Jackson verdict is: Would he have been acquitted if he was black? Answer: Not a chance.

We still have two justice systems in this country. If you think a jury that had not a single African American member would have let Snoop Dogg or Ice Cube go free in this kind of situation, then you haven't been paying attention. They would have nailed Harry Belafonte.

If Michael Jackson had been a black defendant, this would have become a racial case. But as a Bleached American, Jackson served merely as the representative of ALL multi-millionaire, has-been, facially mutilated pop stars who are suspected of touching boys during sleepovers at their mansion.

All such people are breathing easier today.

If we are desperate to plumb meaning from this toxic brew, we might give a nod to something the law professor Erwin Chemerinsky said yesterday: "When it's a celebrity, the jury has a strong sense of reasonable doubt." Adding to the prosecution's problem was that bedroom investigations are inherently murky. The defense team made sure that the jury perceived the accuser's family to be even weirder than the defendant.

You could argue that this case was just a freak show, that it merely filled the breathless-big-story niche in the Celebrity Scandal Infrastructure until the next case comes along. That it was just sound and fury, signifying nothing. And you would probably argue that persuasively.

Brian Williams essentially apologized at the end of Nightly News last night for giving the case so much coverage (though there was still an hour special yet to come on Dateline.) "A stunning verdict," the TV folks gasped as the news broke yesterday afternoon, but they sounded a bit insincere. Watching Michael go off to prison would have been truly stunning; watching him go back to Neverland to meet Robert Blake for dinner (followed by pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey with that cute Culkin fella!) is just to be expected.

[I don't actually know what Michael did to celebrate his victory. I believe that, traditionally, he has some festive touch-up work on his nose.]

The most stunning thing about the verdict is that so many people showed up outside the courthouse to celebrate. Admittedly their ranks were swollen by the camera crews (2,200 journalists, we're told -- possibly more than the American news media have in all of Asia at the moment), but what kind of nutter shows up to cheer a guy accused of molesting kids? One woman kissed and then released a white dove, no doubt after turning over her firstborn son to Michael.

[Don't tell me these people are just "fans." I'm a fan. I love "Off the Wall" and much of "Thriller" and mourn the disappearance of the man Michael Jackson used to be. During the coverage last night the TV showed young Michael, dancing and singing in his prime, and my eldest daughter said, incredulously, "That's Michael Jackson?" Yes, that was Michael Jackson, doing "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," handsome, talented beyond belief, charming, smiling, black, and male.]

As Chemerisky noted, in celebrity cases many jurors would be reluctant to convict even if they caught the defendant on videotape giving a protracted narration of the crime as he committed it. ("Now the doctor will examine the patient's tummy...") Prosecutors make a mistake when they let a case drag on for months, letting the jury ponder all the various imperfections and blemishes in the presentation. The "jury nullification" analysis of the O.J. verdict was always overstated; the prosecution by Clark et al included so many months of complicated testimony that the famed "mountain of evidence" actually worked against the D.A. and right into the hands of Cochran & Co. Meanwhile every defendant from the ghetto has a three-day trial with a public defender, and gets shipped off to Q before the jury has a chance to learn the kid's name.

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 13, 2005; 10:13 PM ET
 
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Next: A Brief History of the Spitball

Comments

"I don't actually know what Michael did to celebrate his victory."

I spent the evening catching up on the Achenblog. I especially liked the entry about the 4th grade state report show.

Posted by: Michael Jackson | June 14, 2005 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm not surprised at all. C'mon. Two kids who can't even remember what they had for lunch and a mom who's made a living by sponging off celebrities? This is the best the prosecuter could come up with? Michael Jackson's supposed to have molested a whole heap of kids, and this is the most credible family they could find? It makes sense that only the most unstable of parents would allow their children within a mile of Neverland, but really--that should have been a sign that prosecutors needed something a little bit better than anecdotes. Where's the smoking underpants?

Posted by: jw | June 14, 2005 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"...this is the most credible family they could find?", you ask, but I don't think the prosecutors went around beating the bushes and trying to find a victim. The victim came to them with a complaint. Maybe they didn't do enough homework on the victim's family, but in law enforcement you're not allowed to do a casting call for Credible Victims.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 14, 2005 11:42 AM | Report abuse

At least with the OJ case, you knew who the victims were- because they were dead.

I do feel kind of sorry for all those involved. And I turn off the TV.

Posted by: Les | June 14, 2005 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I suppose that is true. What does it say about society when the parents of all those "alleged" victims opted for a pay-off rather than justice? Best case, Michael Jackson is a misunderstood weirdo; worst case, he's one of the most criminally manipulative and opportunistic predators of our time.

Posted by: jw | June 14, 2005 11:48 AM | Report abuse

This is off topic but when jacko fills out the census does he marks white or black?

Posted by: fdg31 | June 14, 2005 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I think he should mark gray. Because really, he's neither but at the same time he's a mix of both. He's straddling the racial boundary lines.

Posted by: Sara | June 14, 2005 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"...but in law enforcement you're not allowed to do a casting call for Credible Victims." Actually, I sorta thought Law Enforcement's primary job when building a case was to find evidence, which includes credible witnesses, to present to a jury. And the prosecution's job to review that evidence and tell Law Enforcement to go back to work if the evidence isn't credible enough to gain a conviction.

The amazing thing to me is how many people will look at this trial and dismiss the jury's findings. This trial saw two high-priced legal teams, both presenting and explaining their "best" version of events, in front of an (apparently) competent judge and a conscientious jury that carefully considered both the evidence and the judge's instructions. This is how the legal system is supposed (and quite often fails)to work. This is the ideal we strive for in our crimnal justice system, and it just may have worked. Regardless, half the population is going to believe that MJ got away with something because he was rich (or "white" or weird or a celebrity or he's really a CIA agent protecting Jimmy Hoffa, or whatever).

Posted by: Steve | June 14, 2005 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Joel, when they finally haul you into court for your dissident views on the Runaway Bride, or your self-plagiarization, or any of the other transgressions you have committed in the name of this blog, know that your loyal fans will be there with white doves on the ready. Or maybe ivory-billed woodpeckers.

Posted by: Achenfan | June 14, 2005 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Joel,

nice call on the "r" word or lack thereof in the Jacko case.

re: Blake and OJ, Hollywood has created the perfect crime scenario: be a celeb, kill someone, and go scott-free. Life is good.

Posted by: nottamember | June 14, 2005 2:02 PM | Report abuse

My favorite post verdict jury comment was to the effect that the kid's mom was the most reprehensible person involved because she let her kid sleep over at MJ's place. This is like saying that Quint got eaten by the shark in "Jaws" because he failed to get a bigger boat! At some point Jacko must be responsible for what Jacko does.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | June 14, 2005 2:23 PM | Report abuse

But shouldn't your first sentence read "were black" sted was"

Posted by: not a nitpicker | June 14, 2005 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Initially I thought yes, it should be "were." But on reflection, I think "was" is correct. "Were" is used when the "if" applies to a situation that is highly improbable, e.g., "Would Achenbach have been acquitted if he were black?" But, in Michael Jackson's case, there was a time when he actually WAS black, so you could argue that the question could be interpreted as, Would Jackson have been acquittted if he was still black? [say, if this had happened 30 years ago]

Posted by: Tom fan | June 14, 2005 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but under your interpretation, wouldn't you lose the irony of Joel's premise? To me, that is what makes the piece so brilliant.

Posted by: notanitpicker | June 14, 2005 2:56 PM | Report abuse

You're right. I guess I was trying to make up for some previous nitpicking sins of my own by defending him. But he'd probably take brilliant piece over correct grammar any day.

Posted by: Tom fan | June 14, 2005 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Quint did need a bigger boat - what was he thinking !?!?!

Posted by: 8 hrs from Beltway | June 14, 2005 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Only the Bat Man can save us now!

Posted by: D Horgan | June 14, 2005 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Or the Mothman.

Posted by: Dreamer | June 14, 2005 3:47 PM | Report abuse

OK, the point that I was trying to make is that whatever else he is, Michael Jackson is a rational adult, not a force of nature, not a mindless brute, not an animal, not the shark. Once you bait the shark up to the boat, he's going to do what he do. People, on the other hand, have choices and their acts have consequences.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | June 14, 2005 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Do you think Jacko's money bought the justice.

Posted by: fgd31 | June 14, 2005 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Do you think Jacko's money bought the justice.

Posted by: fdg31 | June 14, 2005 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change

-- Michael Jackson, "Man in the Mirror"

Posted by: Anonymous | June 14, 2005 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Want to do a blog (v. office) pool to bet on how long it'll be until we see Jackson in the news regarding another allegation? You know, even if he's not guilty of molestation, per se, he's readily admitted to sleeping with young boys on a regular basis. Hello? Come on, if that were anyone else ...

Posted by: jlessl | June 14, 2005 5:04 PM | Report abuse

It does seem weird, though, that if he's a pedophile of the magnitude the prosecution suggests, that not one parent has seen fit to report him to the police rather than take a payoff. If that's the situation, then the parents of his long list of victims are just as reprehensible as he is -- if not moreso. After all, whether he's molesting kids or not, he's obviously mentally ill and has been for some time, and he may not be capable of controlling himself. The fact that not one parent before this alleged victim has agreed to cooperate with a criminal investigation doesn't make a lot of sense. Shouldn't there be at least one family that was enraged enough to turn down the cash and cooperate with authorities?

Posted by: Sirin | June 14, 2005 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I'd be curious to find out if the "C.S.I. Effect" had any impact on the jury - were they expecting 'slam-dunk' DNA evidence or any of the other creepy things that our favorite TV criminologists find every week? I've heard prosecutors complain that CSI has ruined their ability to convince juries of criminal acts without 100% perfect evidence.

Posted by: mel | June 14, 2005 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm so glad that the trial and the associated overcoverage is through. Now let's get back to the Missing White Woman of the Month overcoverage.

Posted by: flub | June 14, 2005 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I am offended by the author completely. Michael Jackson is and always will be black. He has never publicly claimed to be anything else. What a racist and insulting article.

Posted by: df | June 14, 2005 5:29 PM | Report abuse

MJ might possibly be guilty of past transgressions but if you followed the case closely it seemed apparent that the particular charges in this trial were a con job.
you can't convict someone for general assumptions --which you make many of in your article. it's very tacky for you to just take for granted that he was guilty.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 14, 2005 5:33 PM | Report abuse

I think all the author meant is that Michael has altered his looks and skin color to the point where it's hard to identify him with any particular race. And that our judicial system tends to be much harder on men who "look" more african-american than Michael does. I don't think that's a racist observation -- quite the opposite, really.

Posted by: Sirin | June 14, 2005 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Oh dear. Looks like it might be time to hide the blog again . . .

Posted by: Achenfan | June 14, 2005 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I get Achenbach's irony, but I think his real rhetorical question is what if Jackson were clearly male or female, and not some indeterminate, manufactured thing in between. Seems to me Jackson's androgyny is what makes Achenbach and the rest of America so squeamish. The author's own biases are pretty clear when he says how wonderful and "male" the young Jackson used to be. Apparently, we all like our black and white lines, but not sure why it makes much of a difference to the accusations of pedophilia. Either Jackson did it or he didn't, irrespective of whatever sex he has chosen to identify as, and it seems simply cruel to pick on that facet of his personality.

Posted by: toobad | June 14, 2005 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm not here to defend MJ; however, when we start insulting juries because they render verdicts that we disagree with, what's left? Moreover, because MJ is "weird" does that make him a child molester? Neither you nor the MJ bashers have ever come up with evidence that he actually molested that boy. What happened to the "throngs" of boys that MJ have molested over the years? Surely he didn't buy all of them off. The way I see it, no one came out looking good in this sordid affair. As for you sir, have you ever heard of innocent until proven guilty?

Posted by: Jay | June 14, 2005 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I second the blog-hiding motion. There are way more than 15 people in this room. And Joel has been reduced to being called "the author"!

Posted by: Tom fan | June 14, 2005 5:49 PM | Report abuse

He who lives by the blog . . . you finish the rest. So is Joel ("the author") going to do a George Michael (the hottie not the sportscaster) and take down his blog when he doesn't like what he sees?

Posted by: toobad | June 14, 2005 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Oh no, I didn't mean he should take the blog down. It's just that sometimes it isn't highlighted on the front page of washingtonpost.com like it is today, which means it doesn't attract random readers who aren't familiar with him and it and who therefore might accidentally be offended.
Oh, and you're saying George Michael the sportscaster isn't a hottie?

Posted by: Achenfan | June 14, 2005 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Why are most of you still so ignorant? First of all, the man suffers from a very serious skin disease; this has been documented and there are multiple cases of its in his family. Read about it for yourselves before you start making assumptions about the man's race. http://www.niams.nih.gov/hi/topics/vitiligo/vitiligo.htm#1
http://www.vitiligosociety.org.uk/
http://www.vh.org/adult/provider/dermatology/PietteDermatology/BlackTray/01Vitiligo.html
It simply infuriates me that Auchenwhoeveryouare has the nerve to question Michael Jackson's race, and as a Black man who knows other people who suffer from this very tragic disease, I would thank you to keep your myopic mouth shut when it comes to this issue. The man IS BLACK! It is white people who took it upon themselves to claim him as their own as his skin got progressively lighter and while he just happened to be still perched nicely atop the billboard charts. As for Black people, we NEVER forgot that he was Black, and you can rest assured that no one is surprised by the fact that white people are now attempting to disassociate themselves from him.
Second, Michael certainly does not seem to be the most mentally stable man, but it is imperative that we do not lose sight of the fact that simply because one is eccentric, or weird or even freakish does not make him a child molester or any other sort of a criminal for that matter. And frankly, if any of you actually took the time to examine profiles of child molesters, you would know that 9.9 times out of ten they are people who on the surface are the farthest thing from weird. They are businessmen, lawyers, doctors, teachers and let us not forget priests. It has been much easier for all of us to believe that Michael must have committed these egregious acts because he does appear (at least as he is potrayed in the media) to be a freak. But let me ask you this, since when has the American media become the standard bearer of objective information dissemination? In my mind this whole unfortunate episode is another shameful example of a media witch hunt; and most Americans have shamelessly fallen for it. Not even to mention that most of you idiots have no idea what evidence was presented in that trial. As any competent lawyer would tell you, the credibility issues alone that were raised regarding this family's past attempts at extortion, coupled with the fact that these incidents of molestation supposedly took place after the very bizarre Martin Bashir (sp)interview several years ago, are enough to put reasonable doubt in any competent human being's mind. And that my friends is one of the pillars of our criminal justice system; reasonable doubt. The lack of credibility of the child's mother, the inability of the child to get his story straight throughout this entire process as well as the lack of corroborating evidence (other than the inane circumstantial evidence that the prosecution supposedly tried to present) all sufficed to prevent this case from being proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Why don't you people start focussing your attention on the lies being propgated by our President or the continuing failure of the war in Iraq or for goodness sake the continued spreading of AIDS and poverty, and leave Michael Jackson alone.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 14, 2005 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Before there was a verdict all the pundits on TV and papers were expressing their smug conviction that MJ was guilty. There was no talk of him getting out because of being a celebrity. All said since the Jury came from a conservative town and there were no blacks in it MJ will be convicted. Now they are changing their story and stating that the jury consisted of stupid people. Thank God there were no blacks in it. Otherwise everyone would have said they caused this debacle.

In between lines you could read these commentators frustration how a black man dared to do the most serious sacrilege, trying to appear white. If this was not enough he had the nerve to be one of the most famous Americans around the world. This just was enough for some to send him to prison for eternity and socially shunning him.

Before accusing me of being a race baiter lets consider the Oscar ceremony of two(?) years ago when Roman Polanski won the best director award. This is a fellow who has pleaded guility to raping and sodomizing a 13 year old after getting her drunk. When he was nominated for Oscar people in the media were very objective. It was being given for his artistic merit. Why they even managed to get some positive quotes from the accuser published. There were no one expressing moral outrage or wisecracking that they won't let their children near him or that he is a paedophile at large. Now these same people want others to believe that race is not a matter in MJ case. What hypocricy!

Posted by: PS | June 14, 2005 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Today's Post, top of Page 1: "Jury Acquits Jackson on All Charges" (followed by nearly four additional full pages of coverage).

Today's Post, page A16: "Bomb Injures 4 U.S. Soldiers In Afghanistan" (six short paragraphs from the AP); Sidebar graphic on page A16 says U.S. fatalities in Iraq now 1,697

It seems clear where everyone's priorities are.

Posted by: ddr | June 14, 2005 6:36 PM | Report abuse

we live in a very sick society. we preach to the world about justice, freedom, and the superior nature of democracy- while we lynched an estimated 6-7000 most black people over the past years and prosecuted next to no one; established a "code of law" that condoned and encouraged the outright ownership of humans {slavery};
and to this day continue to commit complete travesties of real justice, as we pick scapegoat nations to destroy instead of finding the real perpetrators of our 9/11. We beat people to death, get tons of information that way, and then declare death by "natural causes". We continuously kill othwerwise innocent civilians with weapons of mass destruction, and destroy our own credibility as a Christian nation in the process.
For a serial pedifile like MJ-
where has all the semen gone? Where are all the sore butt holes from anal intercourse? Where are all the sore jaws from oral sex? I don't get it. If sleeping with boys is so disgustingly perverse, albeit weird, what do we say about all the wanton acts of violence that we commit? Why can't we concentrate on bringing really bad guys like Osama bin Laden to justice. Maybe Texas style barbeque just tastes too good.

Posted by: george horning | June 14, 2005 6:56 PM | Report abuse

I agree that it's offensive for white people to say that because a black person suffers from a pigment-altering skin condition that they're "trying to look white." But it's not just Michael Jackson's skin that no longer bears any trace of his ethnicity -- his nose has been altered to the point where he barely has one, and his hair (if that's his real hair?) is long and straight now. Maybe he does have vitiligo (?), but that really doesn't account for the other changes he's made to his appearance. The "natural" Michael Jackson was a very, very good looking guy, so it's too bad that he wasn't happy with himself, because that was the Michael everyone loved -- black people and white people, both. I really don't think Joel is the only fan who wishes THAT Michael was still around.

But that said, the "natural"-bodied Pamela Anderson was arguably much better looking before she got the grotesquely huge implants, but nobody talks about how tragic THAT is. Do they? (Or am I getting off topic?)

Posted by: Sirin | June 14, 2005 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Pu-leeeese!!! Let's get off topic. The blog-ilanties are out in full force.

Posted by: jw | June 14, 2005 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Mmmm...George Michael. Let's talk about him.

Posted by: Your Mom | June 14, 2005 7:52 PM | Report abuse

You go right ahead. We'll listen. All ears. (Not that I monitor this stuff. And what's with all the talk lately about how I "censor" this site. Excuse me? Do you READ the nonsense that people get away with here? I think I deleted ONE bad joke about Sally Q. once.)

Posted by: Achenbach | June 14, 2005 8:08 PM | Report abuse

I see that Nancy Grace and Diane Dimond took the news of Michael Jackson's aquittal so hard they had to take off work to gather their thoughts. I'm surprised I hear no complaint about "jury nullification." If a black jury finds a black defendant "Not Guilty," it is either because of racial bias or stupidity. If a white jury finds a black defendant "Not Guilty" it is because they, "seriously studied the evidence and applied the law in a very intelligent manner as instructed by the judge.

Coincidently, yesterday the sole person to be charged by the US government in the "Mississippi Burning" case was put on trial.

Posted by: Randle Bate | June 14, 2005 8:20 PM | Report abuse

I think people said "jury nullification" in the OJ Simpson case because there was so much DNA evidence and it was completely disregarded. In the Michael Jackson case, there was NONE. The fact is, no matter what the racial makeup of the jury, and no matter the race of the defendant (altered skin pigmentation or not), there is always some way to put a racial spin on it. But I think it's safe to say that poor people and minorities, particularly minorities of the non-celebrity variety, do not always get a fair shake in our judicial system. I think all Joel was trying to do was to point that out, and suggest that if Michael was an unknown African American male, he may have been treated quite differently by the all white jury.

You know, this is an interesting topic, but I wish people would read the blog posts more carefully instead of having knee-jerk reactions to things that weren't actually said. Okay, there's my rant! (Now let's talk about Pam Anderson's breasts -- why didn't anyone jump on that topic?? Hello???)

Posted by: Sirin | June 14, 2005 8:36 PM | Report abuse

i found joel's post to be refreshingly amusing - i'd much rather read this than some "legal expert" decomposing the trial and enlightening the rest of the public on what we "should have seen." well done, joel... write on....

Posted by: dw | June 14, 2005 8:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm never surprised anymore about the knowledge people possess about events they only witnessed on television. The pundits who know more about evidence from their TV than the juries that sit though months of testimony are not going to have their minds disabused by facts because they intuitively "know" what the evidence was. People like that need not be in the courtroom to hear the evidence; they can sit in front of their TV and just know when is person is guilty or not.

Posted by: Randle Bate | June 14, 2005 8:48 PM | Report abuse

"Prosecutors make a mistake when they let a case drag on for months, letting the jury ponder all the various imperfections and blemishes in the presentation." What a nonsensical thing to say. Should the prosecutors eliminate some witness from their case for the sake of brevity? Maybe just throw some evidence out all together. Prosecutors as well as defense attorneys have an obligation to their clients to put on all evidence they perceive will advance their case. And the client of the prosecutors are the people of their state.

Posted by: Re: Achenbach | June 14, 2005 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Y'all come from good families don't ya? This is a best read if ya come from a good family kinda blogity blot ain't it? Joel, Buffy, Tulip and Maximus? I ain't from a good family. I am jealous of the abused kid for having it so good. My mom never sued J.C. Penny or pawned me off to nobody famous or nothin' cool like that. Y'all can't relate to my being jealous of the victim can ya? I wish I had had cancer when I was a kid. I'm jealous.

Posted by: Moi Moi | June 14, 2005 9:06 PM | Report abuse

To Re: Achen: It makes sense. Not to trivialize the justice system, but have you ever sat through an hour long PowerPoint presentation? Did you remember anything from it? Hit'em hard and hit'em fast--if you don't, then the jury can't help but start wondering about all those, "what-ifs." Or did you think that the defense dragging things out by parading irrelevant celebrity witness one after another was actually an attempt to make Jackson look like a normal person? I mean, since when does Macauley Culkin saying, "I was never molested" have any relevence to whether THIS kid was molested?

Posted by: jw | June 14, 2005 9:44 PM | Report abuse

In response to your inquiry, please know that I am a retired attorney and have sat through more testimony than I desired. You only know what evidence is ineffectual until after a trial is over. You are not "dragging things out" if when you present evidence that you reasonab believe will advance your case.

As for McCauly Culkin's testimony, be advised that I watched jury members on TV state that she was also swayed because McCauly Culkin testified he was not molested, contray to the testimony of a prosecution witness. I am positive that Atty. Mesmereau was very happy he did put him on.

Posted by: Randle Bate | June 14, 2005 9:57 PM | Report abuse

I could care less if he's white, black and/or a freak. is he a molester? unlikely in my opinion since the prosecution couldn't prove its case AND no one else came forward. if your trying to prove a pattern, then there ought to be a few more victims. I feel sorry for the guy. oj is another story.

Posted by: jh | June 14, 2005 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Joel, you are a schmuck. But you're our schmuck, and we have to love 'ya. That was a great schmuck post.

Posted by: markos moultisas | June 14, 2005 10:20 PM | Report abuse

All this chaff is amusing. The jury did not believe the victim sufficiently to meet the burden of proof amidst inconsistencies in his testimonies and those associated with him. Joel is correct, cops can't cherry pick victims. The District Attorney thought a provable crime was committed, proceeded with a prosecution, and lost. It happens everyday.

Posted by: InvestiGator | June 14, 2005 10:26 PM | Report abuse

InvestiGator:

The problem with your assertions is that the District Attorney did not send out investigators in an attempt to determine the veracity of the allegations until AFTER Mr. Jackson had been arrested. Normally, A DA investigates before he arrests someone. This DA was chomping at the bit to prosecute (read persecute) Mr. Jackson.

Posted by: Randle Bate | June 14, 2005 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Randle,

I'm not in California, but in Georgia we lock up child molesters routinely without consulting a district attorney. Here, DA's generally prosecute, they don't arrest, and most often the police are their investigators.

Posted by: InvestiGator | June 14, 2005 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Lennon died.
MLK died.
JFK died.
They all were subversive in their own way to the "system" of inequity to the masses.
MJ is subversive in that he talks about the environment, endangered species, planetary brotherhood, peace etc. so I would also categorize him as a subversive in the minds of those that want the "state" of mind to be the "state" of conservative christianity that backs big new weapons systems and hate of those who oppose the fictitious and pale christian message of the day...morality.
They really did destroy MJ so they succeeded in their plan. He obviously was VERY poorly advised as he had his heiney hanging sixteen feet outside the bus window waiting to be spanked by having kids over to his place for the night. Very stupid move. He's a very disturbed but heart centered human being who is EXTREMELY naive and has spent his life in a bubble. That does not make him a criminal. I believe that he did not molest any kids. He really does LOVE kids in a pure way.

Posted by: Big Jackson Fan | June 14, 2005 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Investigator:

First, MJ is not a child molester; he was found not guilty - remember.

Big Jackson Fan:

Well said! I agree with you 100%.

Posted by: Rande Bate | June 15, 2005 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Randle,

Jackson is not a CONVICTED child molester--that is all the trial verdict reflects. Whether or not he has actually molested a child is reduced to supposition. My posts were merely observations, not evaluations.

Posted by: InvestiGator | June 15, 2005 12:28 AM | Report abuse

I suspect Big Jackson Fan may be Michael himself.

The fact is, nobody really knows what happened. Not with the kid in 1993, or with this accuser, or with the former maid's son, or whoever else. There seems to be a lot of things that don't add up quite right, either way you look at it. But the fact is, Michael got off this time, and hopefully there won't be a next time. If he's not a pedophile, he likely won't put himself in this position again. If he is, though, it will be hard for him to resist the urge to act this way again, whether it's in two years, or five years, or ten... So I guess we just have to wait and see. In the meantime, it's probably true that there are bigger things to worry about than whether Michael Jackson's reputation is ruined.

Posted by: Sirin | June 15, 2005 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Sirin:

I agree, tt is a proven fact that pedophiles have an uncontrollable urge to commit their crime over and over again. There is no doubt that if MJ were in fact a child molester he would have committed this offense many, many times in his 47 years and would not have been able to avoid detection for such a long period of time.

Posted by: Randle Bate | June 15, 2005 12:47 AM | Report abuse

Randle,

I must quit here, but implying Michael Jackson was able to "avoid detection" of child molestation during his 47 or whatever years is laughable. He settled an acknowledged lawsuit publicly over allegations of same for millions of dollars in 1993 to avoid prosecution. The serial nature of pedophilia, in large measure, is what makes the most recent charges credible to many regardless of the verdict.

Posted by: InvestiGator | June 15, 2005 1:15 AM | Report abuse

The final comment on this should be the headline at The Onion, which just made me spit my milk out of my nose:

"Enchanted by Own Innocence, Michael Jackson Molests Self"

Posted by: Sirin | June 15, 2005 1:33 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to hear Chris Rock's take on Joel's piece.

Posted by: Achenfan | June 15, 2005 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Joel's Jacko blog has rec'd more comments than the blog on Iraq. Priorities, eh...

Enjoyed the televised coverage of the courtroom scene before the verdict was read, "the courtroom atmoshere is very intense, one of the jury members is picking his nose, and, if you can believe this, the judge is silently reading the verdict... all this does not bode well for Michael Jackson who appears to be nodding off, no, wait, his defense atty just elbowed him..."

Posted by: not of the 15 | June 15, 2005 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Sirin, on the basis of all your posts above I have to say you sound like you could be one of the sanest people on the planet right now. I'm impressed.

Posted by: Dreamer | June 15, 2005 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Achenbach: I hope I am not one of those annoying posters.

Posted by: fdg31 | June 15, 2005 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Sirin, I'm almost convinced you posted the 09:52 AM blog aka Dreamer...

Posted by: nottamember | June 15, 2005 10:21 AM | Report abuse

No, it really was me. And you know, I've been thinking about something else: Isn't it funny how people will attack a blog entry on the grounds that there are more important things to talk about, even if the previous entry was about something pretty important, like the Iraq war? Should we never talk or write about anything unless it is on the very top of our list of priorities at the time? That would really put the pressure on. Plus it would be kind of boring.

Posted by: Dreamer | June 15, 2005 10:32 AM | Report abuse

nottamember: If I had posted a shout out to myself, I would said that the brilliance of my posts was matched only by my obvious sex appeal. But thank you Dreamer.

Posted by: Sirin | June 15, 2005 10:50 AM | Report abuse

that's way I read Achenblog - it's not centered on the here and now... except for that Iraq and Deep Throat thing, but those were only anomalies, I'm sure.

Posted by: nottamember | June 15, 2005 10:52 AM | Report abuse

and it's interesting to see how far Achenbloggers push the envelope before Joel threatens censorship... living on the edge seems to be the MO here, as Joel called his undiscreet bloggership a few weeks ago: "rogues and rapscallions".

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2005 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Just so everyone knows: Most of these comments come from the same two people. I have done research on this. ROUTINELY someone will post a message under one name, praising his or her alter ego. The reason nottamember thinks Sirin was praising herself under the name "Dreamer" is that nottamember does that kind of thing all the time, often when writing under the name "Linda Loomis." Don't think I don't know all your tricks.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 15, 2005 11:00 AM | Report abuse

It thought Sirin was a guy?

Posted by: Dreamer | June 15, 2005 11:07 AM | Report abuse

What the bleep does Joel know?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2005 11:10 AM | Report abuse

In the immortal words of Keanu Reeves: "Woah." Joel, you make my head hurt.

Posted by: jw | June 15, 2005 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Joel,

please, please, please, do not confuse me with Linda Loomis. Given that you work closely with the intelligence community (via the Post) you may have a way of checking blogs per IP port or something like that, that's fine, you're the owner, but wow, no way am I Linda Loomis, as much as you're really not part of the Gestapo. (you aren't, aren't you???)

Posted by: nottamember | June 15, 2005 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Nottamember: I was kidding. I know Linda Loomis. Linda Loomis is a friend of mine. You're no Linda Loomis.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 15, 2005 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I guess that's why nottamember is not a member.

Posted by: Achenfan | June 15, 2005 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Joel,

thank you, I somehow feel relieved, like Dan Quayle in response to Sen Bensen's "you're no Jack Kennedy": "yeah, you're right Senator, I have a pulse."

Posted by: nottamember | June 15, 2005 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Achenfan,

I always consider myselk not a member since (1) I am outside the age range of 18 to 35 and (2) my disposable income has prior to herefore been disposed of, with no hope of returning.

Posted by: nottamember | June 15, 2005 11:50 AM | Report abuse

No, Joel guessed right, Sirin is a she. Just don't start in on my race, please.

Posted by: Sirin | June 15, 2005 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I feel like I am back in high school

Posted by: fdg31 | June 15, 2005 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Nottamember: I'm a few years outside of the age range myself, but I figure this might be a good time to start lying about my age.

Posted by: Achenfan | June 15, 2005 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Anyone wanna trade a turkey sandwich for PBJ?

Posted by: enjoying | June 15, 2005 12:29 PM | Report abuse

enjoying: throw in some of those Cheez-Its and you've got a deal...

Posted by: nottamember | June 15, 2005 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I'll saty with my veggie sandwich

Posted by: fdg31 | June 15, 2005 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I'll stay with my veggie sandwich

Posted by: fdg31 | June 15, 2005 2:10 PM | Report abuse

The plot thickens: A Google search reveals that there is more than one "Linda Loomis." I wonder which one is our Linda?

Posted by: Tom fan | June 15, 2005 3:41 PM | Report abuse

these blogs appear to die a slow death once I get active in them... it is me?

Posted by: nottamember | June 15, 2005 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Tom fan,

Joel says he is a good friend of Linda Loomis - could mean she's from in or around the Beltway. That narrows it down, eh?

One thing for sure I can tell you, I am not Linda Loomis!!

Posted by: nottamember | June 15, 2005 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I did the same thing yesterday! I'm betting she's the journalism prof at SUNI Oswego. Where the hell is Oswego?!?

Posted by: jw | June 15, 2005 3:55 PM | Report abuse

situated on eastern Lake Ontario in upstate NY, not far from a town called Fruit Valley. No further comment.

Posted by: nottamember | June 15, 2005 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Linda.

Posted by: Tom fan | June 15, 2005 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Oswego locale was straight from Rand McNally... your question aroused my suspicion as well,

Still Not Linda

Posted by: nottamember | June 15, 2005 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Heh heh heh. Fruit Valley.

Posted by: jw | June 16, 2005 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Getting back to the MJ case, I've talked with FBI agents on the Marion Barry cocaine case (I was federal law enforcement too at the time), and he said that he had never seen another case where there was such an overwhelming amount of evidence against a person. But the prosecution DID "not bother" (as opposed to "withheld") to present more of the evidence against Barry in the trial due to the fact that their sense of the jury was that heaping even more evidence against him would only alienate the prosecution even more in the eyes of the jury, who already leaned on a position of it being "the Man" against a city hero (or something--how else do you explain Barry being re-elected by DC again and again, including after getting a BJ in the visitor's room of Lorton--I recall a radio station calling up Lorton and trying to talk to the guard that was on duty there at the time, on the air, and it was the first time I heard the legally required "beep" on the phone line that indicates that it is being recorded, as all calls into the prison are--and of course, the guard's comment was "no comment".

So yes, the prosecution can and does sometimes not bother presenting further evidence if the feel it will not be helpful; but remember that they would be sanctioned strongly if they withheld evidence that was potentially exculpatory (favorable to the defence).

Posted by: steve32 | June 16, 2005 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Has the number of comments on this blog ever hit the 100 mark? Should we be going into some pre-Y2K-like panic because the blogging tool might not be able to handle the changeover from 99 to 100?

Posted by: Achenfan | June 16, 2005 9:49 AM | Report abuse

That bitch set me up!

Posted by: jw | June 16, 2005 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Being black is a lot more than just the color of one's skin. It is, for all practical purposes, a certified ethnicity. Black people have their own distinct culture that has, until recently, existed along the periphery of mainstream American society. We come in all shades, shapes, and sizes. It is rather simplistic and juvenile to suggest that if one is of a light skin tone (no matter how he accomplished this), that he is not black. I am a bit shocked to find such in this publication.

Posted by: Danielle | June 16, 2005 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I think the point is that *Michael Jackson* has his own distinct culture that exists *way outside of* the periphery of mainstream American society . . .

Posted by: Achenfan | June 16, 2005 1:28 PM | Report abuse

P.S. I'm glad to see the blog didn't blow up when the number of comments surpassed 100.

Posted by: Achenfan | June 16, 2005 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I understand the point, and I agree. But I think what makes Michael so unique is that he has this experience of being a black man somewhere mixed in there with everything else. I don't mean to make it more than what it is, but I'd hate for something to happen to me and for the papers to start saying that I'm not black anymore.

Posted by: Danielle | June 16, 2005 2:10 PM | Report abuse

re: Joel's title for this blog.

Some people have no sense of humor.

sow, hey jw, your on-line laugh looks too much like Beavis'... hehhhhhhhh.

Posted by: nottamember | June 16, 2005 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Danielle I understand your point completely, but I think Joel may have meant that white america (the white jury?) doesn't view Michael as (stereotypically) "black." Joel was actually (I think), taking a swipe at white america and white juries and the way they treat minorities. I dont think he was implying that when Michael's skin became lighter he somehow lost his ethnicity. Of course being an African American is more than just having dark skin or other features associated with african ancestry -- I should hope some of us white people can realize at least that much. But I think Joel's point is that white America still treats "black" people one way and "non black people" (even if it's only their own stupid perception that the person is "not black") another. Not to put words in Joel's mouth, but that's sort of how I read it, that's what I got out of his piece.

Posted by: Sirin | June 16, 2005 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Sirin,

nice summary, Dreamer may have something with the comment concerning your sanity.

Posted by: nottamember | June 17, 2005 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Once again, I'm impressed. Someone who reads what Joel is saying, reads what other posters are saying, comprehends all the nuances, and is able to present an opinion clearly and logically. Joel once said that one of the purposes of this blog is to encourage people to think (or something like that). People like Sirin help him achieve that lofty goal.

Posted by: Dreamer | June 17, 2005 10:04 AM | Report abuse

"Everyone in this room is a great thinker, now that we've got 'em THINKING. (That's always the trick, isn't it?)"

"The only way I will ever be great to myself is not through what I do to my body, but what I do to my MIND."

-- Ramtha, in "What the Bleep Do We Know!?"

Posted by: Anonymous | June 17, 2005 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Wow, thanks you guys. I'm just trying to hold up my teensy weensy little corner of the comments board... (and joel has been my favorite writer for years.:)

Posted by: Sirin | June 17, 2005 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Ask not what the Achenblog can do for you, but what you can do for the Achenblog.

Posted by: JFK | June 20, 2005 1:08 PM | Report abuse

The case against Jackson was non existant, a blatant attempt at financial extortion. What if Mr Achenbach found himself in a similar situation????

"After being interviewed by Washington Post journalist Joel Achenbach, a teenager from a family with a history of dishonesty and benefit fraud claimed the journalist had given him beer & twinkies, then sexually abused him. Mr Achenbach was arrested as DA Tom Snottin told the waiting media that the case against 'Whacky Accy' was concrete, despite the absence of any forensic evidence. Mr Achenbach's computer was examined and contained no child porn, but the prosecution did find some polaroids of half naked children in his family album - they were obviously being groomed for sexual activity at a family pool party. Before the trial started, Judge Mullwill removed the only two white jurors and replaced them with two members of the Nation of Islam. However, none of the prosecution witnesses seemed credible and after a 14 week trial the all black jury found Achenbach innocent on all counts. A crowd of his relatives cheered as each 'not guilty' announcement was made, one fan even released albino turkeys from a large cage after each verdict. 'Whacky Accy' is now free to resume his journalistic career, but many in the media feel there are still unanswered questions, including what the verdict would have been if Accy was a 'real' white with blond hair and blue eyes. Despite being cleared of all charges, we have to ask what sane person would allow their children to be interviewed by this man in the future"

Posted by: morton | June 21, 2005 4:20 AM | Report abuse

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