Edifice of the King

BY BEAU ELLIOT | JULY 14, 2009 7:15 AM

I’ve never paid much attention to Michael Jackson, mostly because my musical tastes don’t run (or walk or crawl or swim or any other verb you might want to toss up against the wall to see if it will stick) in his direction.

(My musical tastes, since you asked, run to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk, Bach, and their ilk, if geniuses of their scale can be said to have an ilk.)

So you can imagine my surprise — or perhaps stunned disbelief — at the tsunami of emotions that greeted the news of his death. And the overwhelming media attention that followed. I mean, it was all Michael, all the time, even in the times that weren’t time, if you know what I mean. (In my naïveté, I had always thought that if one said merely “Michael,” one was referring to Michael Jordan. Apparently, I had a quite sheltered childhood.)

My reaction to the Jackson media blizzard, I have to admit, was pretty much the same as my reaction to the similar blizzard that followed the death of Princess Diana some years ago: You’d think someone important had died.

That comment, in these pages, set off a storm of vitriol such as I’ve never seen. It got so bad that when I was buying socks in one of our downtown establishments (which is no longer downtown), the female clerk looked at me, recognized me, and said, You’re that awful man who wrote those horrible words about Princess Diana.

So I’m not going to repeat those words about Jackson. (I mean, one of these days, I’m going to need to buy some socks. Red sounds good.)

But one reaction to Jackson’s death caught my attention more than any other — those of New York Rep. Peter King. And in order to be fair to the congressman, I’ll let him speak for himself:

“Yet for the last — I don’t know for how long now — this lowlife, Michael Jackson — his name, his face, his picture — is all over the newspapers, television, radio. All we hear about is Michael Jackson.

“Let’s knock out the psychobabble. This guy was a pervert, was a child molester. He was a pedophile. And to be giving this much coverage to him, day in and day out, what’s it say about us, our country?”

And we in Iowa thought we had a congressman named King who was an utter embarrassment.

Now, I know that there were many, many rumors (I would like to stress the word “rumors”) about what might have gone on at Neverland with Michael Jackson and children. I know that he settled one lawsuit out of court, which does not mean he was guilty of anything. I know that he was indicted on child-molestation charges in 2003 and that he was acquitted on those charges.

Yes, not guilty.

So for King to call Jackson a child molester, a pedophile, is so outrageous it’s nearly unbelievable. Someone should point out to King that being elected to office does not make you judge and jury.

King’s comments are not the first time he’s demonstrated he doesn’t exactly come from the deep end of the gene pool. After the 9/11 attacks, he wanted people of South Asian and Middle Eastern ancestry to submit to additional national-security checks. He has called the NAACP and the AARP “radical organizations.” (Thanks to the Daily Kos for ferreting these items out.)

And he had a rather curious stance about the IRA and its bloody campaign against the British — he supported it for 20-some years. (After the 9/11 attacks, he switched and called on the IRA to disband.)

So who’s the “pervert” here?

Yeah, that’s what she said.

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