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'King of Pop' seems to have popped his cork



Published: Fri, February 21, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Any thinking person who watched the television special "Life With Michael Jackson" had to have been disturbed by the images of this plastic-surgery freak. It doesn't matter to us that his nose job is deteriorating, or his appearance is clownish. What struck us about the Jackson profile was his total lack of understanding about his responsibilities as an adult male, especially when it comes to children.

His admission that he has young kids sleep in his bedroom -- this, after his being sued 10 years ago by the parents of a boy who claimed he had been sexually molested -- shows that Jackson has lost touch with reality. No sane Fortysomething man with three children of his own would dream of surrounding himself with other children, many of them strangers, simply to indulge his childish fantasies.

The special, first aired in Britain and shown this week on ABC, should be the basis of an investigation by social service agencies to determine whether Jackson is fit to have custody of his three children -- their mothers aren't around -- and is a threat to other kids. We support the efforts of Gloria Allred, described by the Chicago Tribune as a "legal gadfly," to persuade authorities in Santa Barbara County, where Jackson lives, to investigate the entertainer's activities with children at Neverland.

Neverland is Jackson's backyard amusement park operated by a staff of 50 and featuring a locomotive, rides, a Ferris wheel and a kiosk that serves flavored ice.

Dark cloud

No, there's nothing wrong with very rich people living extravagant, even obnoxious, lives. But there certainly is cause for concern when someone who seems to have no limits in his life is able to use his celebrity to reassure parents that they should trust their children in his care. His intentions may well be innocent, but the incident 10 years ago hangs over Jackson like a dark cloud.

In 1993, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office investigated molestation charges against Jackson, but the "King of Pop" was never convicted of any crime. He reached an out-of-court settlement with the accuser's parents. The criminal case remains "open but inactive," prosecutors told the Tribune.

But even if there wasn't this cloud hanging over his head, his bizarre behavior during the filming of the special suggests to us that he needs help. Putting one's own children in situations where they could be trampled by the hordes of journalists following him isn't the act of a stable individual. Dangling a baby out a hotel window just to excite fans on the street below isn't acceptable behavior. Changing one's appearance to achieve total physical transformation is the sign of a troubled mind.

Despite his vehement denials that there's anything wrong with him, the fact remains that Michael Jackson is, at the very least, an unstable individual who needs help.




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