Thursday, July 24, 2014
America has a long tradition of naming schools after it's heroes. We place the names of those whom kids can look up to, can model their lives after and who can aspire to be on the buildings where they spend so many of their formative years. It's why there is a Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt School in nearly every city in the country. And now the Gary, Indiana School District is going to uphold that tradition by renaming one of its schools in honor of Michael Jackson. I'll give you a minute to digest that. Children will be attending Michael Jackson School. Now that you've fought off the urge to vomit, let's explore why this is going to happen. In a word: MONEY. Specifically, the money that Jackson's mother, Katherine, is offering the district to participate in an image-cleaning effort for the family meal ticket--even though he is dead. That image-cleaning effort is needed because the vast majority of Americans consider Jackson to be serial pedophile and a drug addict with serious body-image issues to boot. That majority of Americans who question Jackson's well-documented relationship with children apparently does not include the Gary School Corporation Chairwoman Charmella Greer who says "those accusations were never considered during discussions about renaming the school. "He is one of the most beloved artists in the world," Greer told The Associated Press. Jackson's family is always quick to point out that he was found "not guilty" in the only molestation case that did not settle out of court with a big cash payout before going to trial. However, that argument then places Jackson into the same company as one Orenthal James Simpson--acquitted by a California jury. But money talks and widely-held perceptions walk. I'm guessing the Michael Jackson School Media Resource Center will be a little light on books dealing with the school's namesake. And on-line video of Donald Brashear's chilling ABC interviews with Jackson will be blocked from viewing on school computers. Better to present the argument that such actions don't exist in the real world--and that if you tell anyone about them, they won't believe you anyway because I'm rich and famous and your parents are just trying to shake me down for big bucks. Perhaps the Gary, Indiana School District should place a call to the folks over at Penn State University--which tore down a statue and removed the name of "beloved" football coach Joe Paterno after it was shown that he only knew about accusations against an assistant coach and just never bothered to tell anyone about it--for some perspective on which is more important: money someone is willing to give you for an "honor" and the shame that person's name can bring to you and your school. I can't wait for Katherine Jackson to be quoted as saying she "hopes they name an elementary school for her son because Michael always loved the littlest kids the most".