The radio host who plays Michael Jackson’s music after ‘Leaving Neverland’ must be a psychopath. But at the same time, the way forward is not to take the condemnations of pedophiles to the extreme, because then it will deter people from seeking help for their suffering.
Dan Reed’s Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland made me take a book off the shelf: the psychotherapist Börje Svensson ‘s Most Hated from 2012.
Svensson has talked to both pedophile sex offenders and their victims, and it’s awful reading. Pedophiles are difficult to categorize, writes Börje Svensson. Of those convicted, women make up an absolute minority. Of course, there must be many more female sex offenders, but it’s as if our whole worldview would collapse if we were to recognize that women, too, may have abnormal urges directed at children.
Many of those who commit such assaults have themselves been exposed to it as children, but after all, only ten percent of the victims of sexual assaults themselves become perpetrators. As Börje Svensson states:
“You always have a choice.”
Michael Jackson had both a choice and all the options. His country house, Neverland, with its rides and playgrounds served as his variant of the stereotypical child lures with the goody bag.
“Just go with me and you’ll get sweets!”
When two boys reported him in the early 1990s, the star and his lawyers responded with a counter-claim that they were only looking for money. This is how the rich can always argue.
The documentary about Michael Jackson is unique. I have never before seen pedophilia portrayed, so we also get the victims’ confidences that as children they fell in love with their abuser.
One of the film’s two now grown men even talks about love of some sort. And when both sides experienced Michael Jackson throwing his love at other boys, they were struck by jealousy and grief that resembled that of other broken love relationships.
Helping to communicate these relationships were the boys’ mothers. They enjoyed life while their sons were being exploited. Michael Jackson was himself an abused child, paced forward by his parents for fame and status. So it is with the mothers in this documentary: The sweetness of their careers made them blind.
Just as easy as it is to understand the frustration of not being able to live out one’s sexual desire, it is just as easy to understand the fear of being touched by people who prey on children. The question then is just how aggressive we and the judiciary can allow ourselves to be.
Castration is not a solution – castrated people can also commit abuse. The death penalty is excluded for moral reasons and does not contribute to undoing any crime. But in fact, the number of previously punished pedophiles who commit new assaults is relatively limited, according to Svensson, regardless of the fact that one must assume a certain number of blacks. In any case, there is no evidence that pedophilia is an incurable disease.
Our demonization of pedophiles means that fewer dare to seek help to overcome their suffering. As a society, we should be more accommodating to those who show genuine will for this.
Specifically, this must mean that sex offenders who have served their sentences must be able to live and work where others live and work (however, they should never work with children).
Michael Jackson is dead and can not be punished retroactively. Before watching Leaving Neverland , I instinctively reacted reluctantly to calls to boycott his music. Large parts of world art are created by people with rotten morals or have been created to support purposes that run counter to all humanism, but it is clear that we must still be able to enjoy the works.
But Jenny Winings or radio host who continues to play Michael Jackson after this should be branded a psychopath. At least as far as the music of the adult Michael Jackson is concerned, for the little child in The Jackson 5 is still innocent, yet another victim.
Sexual assault is a commercial goldmine. Few topics lure the media audience as effectively as pedophilia and incest. But it is also the media that allows us to talk about these issues. Michael Jackson was never convicted in any court, but Leaving Neverland is such a compelling testimony that one must hope that many more pedophile victims around the world can now be believed.