I am surprised by the coverage of the Michael Jackson in blogs immediately after his demise. The media has focused on Jackson's alleged pedophilia for the last decade; however, all mention of this was absent from most immediate memorial posts. The only post that I have seen thus far that makes reference to these tragic charges is Pandagon:
Of course his body gave out---god only knows how many drugs a plastic surgery addict and pedophile must take to escape the reality of himself. I think it shook me because I mentally chose to believe that the Michael Jackson that I loved died within minutes of releasing “Smooth Criminal”. ... But even if you plug your ears and try to pretend that there was only one Michael Jackson---the Michael of the Jackson 5, of Off The Wall, of Thriller---it’s hard. His earlier music that displayed his practically supernatural talent is impossible to listen to without occasionally hearing portends of the child molesting freak show shell of a human he was to become.I know we shouldn't speak well of the immediate dead especially. I understand that this may be in poor taste (I've never been great with etiquette). Certainly he was a musical genius and a tremendously talented man who put a lot of positive energy into the universe. I don't object to highlighting or focusing on those accomplishments. I also understand that he was never found guilty, but he is the man most associated with a serious evil and even that is worthy of mention.
Glossing over, marginally mentioning, or using euphemisms discounts extremely serious offenses towards those in society who need the most protection. Sexual predators are a serious threat to all children, and all too often their crimes are ignored (often because of class privilege). Some bloggers that I respect a great deal completely erased these serious evils - especially my most recent fave blog Shakesville, which posted two articles on his death without any sort of reference to his issues with children at all. Jon Pareles of the New York Times also went almost completely without mentioning his pedophilia, despite going into some detail about his career.
Obituaries and media coverage of one's death are the first drafts of their legacy. I don't object to remembering Jackson primarily for his music, much as we respect major misogynists such as Ernest Hemingway for their brilliance (though Hemingway's mistakes were far less evil to my knowledge). But Jackson's wealth was a prime example of how class privilege can constitute exemption from responsibility in our penal system. Child molestation is not something to turn into a historical footnote.
ETA: Commenters at the Shakesville threads brought something that I missed to my attention: Jackson's childhood abuse. Just as the repeated accusations against Jackson should merit mention, so should the abuse that Jackson and his brothers faced as child performers. Jackson was as much victim as victimizer in the cycle of abuse, and his tortured childhood should not be forgotten. It's a valuable example of the way children and child performers are sometimes treated. Comprehensively his personal life is a tragic case of the cycle of abuse that is independent of his astounding, almost mythic talent and music for the ages.