July 6, 2009

Pete King, the noxious Republican congressman from Long Island, made a video for Friends of Pete King for the Fourth of July commenting on "real heroes" and then launching into an attack on the media for covering Michael Jackson's death so assiduously:

King: Yesterday I marched in two Fourth of July parades in Wantagh and Massapequa Park. Today I was talking a walk through Wantagh, here at the American Legion Hall, the firehouse down the street, the fire memorial a few blocks from here. And it really reminded me of, you know, the great men and women who've sacrificed so much for our country -- people fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan today; cops, firefighters, teachers, none of whom really get much credit. And yet for the last, I don't know how long now, this lowlife Michael Jackson, his name, his face and picture is all over the newspapers, television, radio. It's all we hear about, is Michael Jackson.

And let's knock out the psycho-babble. This guy was a pervert, he was a child molester, ah, he was a pedophile, and to be giving this much coverage to him day in and day out, what does that say about us as a country?

I just think it's too -- we're too politically correct. No one wants to stand up and say we don't need Michael Jackson. He died, he had some talent, fine. But people are dying every day. There are men and women dying in Afghanistan. Let's give them the credit they deserve.

I really think the media has disgraced itself. I think there are too many people in public life who have made fools of themselves by talking about Michael Jackson as if he's some kind of hero.

There's nothing good about this guy. He may have been a a good singer, did some dancing. But the bottom line is would you let your child or grandchild be in the same room with Michael Jackson? What are we glorifying him for?

So anyway, let's take some time out to really look to the people that do make this a great country -- the men and women in the armed forces, police, firefighters, teachers who work in really rough neighborhoods, people who volunteer with dying cancer patients, people who work in AIDS clinics -- they're the ones we should be glorifying. Not some pervert like Michael Jackson.

Newsday contacted him to see if he had any second thoughts, and he was unrepentant:

"The bottom line is, he’s a pervert," King said. "He was endangering young children and all these people who say he's a great hero would never let their children or grandchildren near him."

Let's stipulate a couple of things: First, we don't disagree with the sentiment that the media ridiculously over-cover celebrity deaths like Jackson's. Our objection, though, is about the absurdities of the cult of celebrity, and not whether or not Jackson deserved the adulation.

(And it must be pointed out that the adulation heaped upon Jackson is largely the product of the free-enterprise system that Republicans like King vehemently defend at every nook and cranny -- except that belonging to a black man.)

Second, a lot people's recent distaste for Jackson does indeed revolve around the question of his bizarre relationships with children, and we wouldn't minimize those issues either insofar as there is any factual truth in them (nor, for that matter, have they been ignored in the media coverage).

But someone should point a couple of things out to King:

-- Jackson in fact was cleared of all charges relating to his supposed molestation of children. So there is no factual ground for claiming that he was a "pervert" or a "pedophile".

-- It's a fine thing to honor the men and women who perform the many tasks of public service he mentions. But you never honor these people by tearing other people down -- rather the opposite. Vilification of celebrities does nothing to glorify society's unrecognized heroes, and indeed is counter to the very reasons we honor them -- which is to recognize and appreciate the contributions of all hard-working Americans. Including even those who happen to be celebrities.

Finally, speaking of morally degraded people ... one wonders where Pete King's outrage was when it came to the people who created the Bush torture regime. Talk about skewed priorities.

I'm sure that King will be shocked to learn that Jackson fans are now organizing to fund his defeat at the polls.

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