Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mr. MacKenzie We Beg To Differ!

Remaining calm and rational is a lot harder that what one may think at times, especially when faced with the horrors of injustice. When I read Kelvin MacKenzie’s comments that had aired on ITV This Morning, November 9, 2010, I was filled with an equal amount of rage and disgust. I was also filled with immense sorrow. My immediate reaction was to lash out, and express to him in no uncertain terms exactly what I thought of him, but then I wondered if it had been his intention to illicit this sort of response. A mental picture formed in my mind of McKenzie rubbing his hands in glee over the furor he had caused, and I was not about to give him the satisfaction of knowing he had hit a raw nerve.

MacKenzie is best known for being the man to coin the term “Wacko Jacko” and is a perfect example of the unconscionable reporting that is prevalent within tabloid media today, but in this case, he has crossed a line that even his own peers cannot find acceptable.

Charles Thomson writes in his blog:

“MacKenzie’s comments were morally and ethically reprehensible. He demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the justice system and also for the ethics of his profession. Jackson was acquitted of any wrongdoing and nobody has any right to insinuate that he was anything other than innocent.

MacKenzie’s outburst was unacceptable. [T]o announce on television that three orphaned children are better off now their father is dead and proclaim that they should never have been born in the first place – that is beyond vile.”

Indeed, no one could agree more.

Surprisingly, there is actually a journalistic Code of Ethics in most countries that was designed as a guide to assist professional journalists in the truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity and fairness of their reporting, and to help with difficulties such as conflicts of interest and ethical dilemmas. The Preamble to the Society of Professional Journalists in America states:

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice.I have highlighted the areas above to draw attention to a
singular lack of ethical and moral conduct on MacKenzie’s part.

Has MacKenzie ever read the court transcripts for Michael’s 2005 trial? No doubt he has, but it obviously did little to change his opinion. One could even go as far saying that he doesn’t care. The fact that Michael was found innocent by a jury of his peers apparently holds little sway to a man who has always been very vocal about his hatred of the King of Pop. The most we can hope for here is a retraction or formal apology by the former editor of The Sun, but that may be a long time coming. According to OFCOM (the official complaints authority for UK media) MacKenzie has not broken any of their rules and none of our complaints are being upheld.

Whether MacKenzie apologizes or not, the damage has been done, for he has not only caused grief to Michaels’ family and children, but he is malignly contributing to the on-going character assassination of a man who has now passed. In short, MacKenzie is nothing but a bully who uses words as weapons to destroy. It is because of him, and people like him, that organizations such as Voices Education Project have been created, but until we educate people in the destructive power of words, something needs to protect those who can no longer speak for themselves.

The defamation of someone’s character is hardly new, and lawsuits testify to the fact that it is not a particularly legal practice, unless of course the person you are defaming is no longer alive. I am not entirely sure why the absence of breath in someone’s body gives others carte blanche to damage the reputation, through slander and libel, of that said person. Surely in all conscience the law should encompass both the living and the dead? Apparently not, so either the law needs to be changed to protect those who can longer speak for themselves, or at the very least, develop a heart.

But changing the law can be a very difficult process and as proven in the past, not always successful, however, it’s not impossible. When I was approached by a group of supportive fans to help promote their Michael Jackson Legacy Defamation Law Petition, I thought to myself, “This is something I can really get behind.” Michael was a target of the media and public alike for nearly all his life. He was criticized, mocked, laughed at and debased at every opportunity, and it still continues now after his death. If signing a petition helps to change the law; helps to prevent any further false allegations, slander, innuendos and degradation of this man and his legacy, then my name is on it, especially after reading MacKenzie’s vitriolic comments.

“OK, well a rather different view to that is that the death of Michael Jackson may well have saved some children, possibly, who knows… from a lifetime of being mentally corrupted, shall we say.”

“He’s faced a number of charges, a number of allegations, and I in some ways feels that the children will have a better life for their father not being around, which is pretty unusual.”  

Mr., MacKenzie, Michael’s children and his family beg to differ. Mr. MacKenzie, Michael’s fans beg to differ. Mr. MacKenzie, the countless children, organizations and charities that he helped and donated too, beg to differ. You speak for no one else but yourself, Mr. MacKenzie!

© Valmai Owens, 2010. All Rights Reserved.
No reproduction without permission from author.

The Voices behind the Michael Jackson Legacy Defamation Law Petition

A year ago several of us came together through an Amazon Michael Jackson community. It seemed that each of us had embarked on the same journey on June 25, 2009. In trying to understand what we were experiencing, we all found ourselves at the same thread on the Michael Jackson Community. We shared our sorrow, anger, confusion, frustration, tears, discoveries, and joys. As time went on we truly became a family and we were very comfortable with one another. We all consider one another to be sisters, and we are a very close group.

The emotional pain and sorrow began to evolve into something deeper. We wanted to find a way to make a difference. Many of us became involved in writing letters and posting comments where we saw a need. We placed an ad in the newspapers in Gary, (Indiana,)  and the surrounding area on Michael’s birthday to honor him and to let it be known that there are people who care about seeing his legacy go forward without the tinge suspicion.

Those efforts prompted some of us to want to become even more involved. After a Skype call where all who wanted to work on this project came together, MJ shared her idea to take some form of legal action to stop the spread of untrue and hateful information about Michael. Discussions over that idea lead to another conference call with Karen, Barb, MJ, and Vanessa. There the idea was formed to try to have a law passed in California that would make it illegal to defame a person who had passed on.

Michael Jackson was unfairly portrayed by a biased media throughout most of his life. Every aspect of his life was a source of amusement to the media, and they happily distorted facts and spread rumor and gossip in order to make a profit. It was a terrible way to treat Michael. No one in the history of our country has ever been so vilified in the media. Journalists, entertainers, public figures; it seems everyone felt very comfortable with treating Michael's life like it was a comic strip. That is heartbreaking to us because we see what a wonderful man he was. Not just for his legendary accomplishments in entertainment and the arts, but for the contributions he made to the world through his message of love. He lived a most remarkable life and managed to remain humble, loving, kind, generous, and respectful.

That is why we have come to this point where we say enough is enough. To have defamed him while he was living was an egregious misuse of the freedom of speech and the power of words. However, to continue to do so after he is no longer here is reprehensible. While the attacks on Michael Jackson have been the most aggressive ever seen in our country; the fact is that the media, in general, is out of control. They will go after anyone who may bring a profit. There is little, if any, thought to reporting only facts and reporting them without bias. This effort came about through a love and respect for Michael Jackson, but the purpose for the law does not extend only to him. We want this effort to be taken seriously; it is meant to protect anyone....famous celebrity, average citizen, or innocent child from being maligned unfairly.  In the current media culture, anyone is fair game.

After the call with Karen, MJ, Vanessa and Barb, it was decided that we would pursue having this law introduced, and we should start a petition. MJ researched how to start a petition, and she set up the link. Barb wrote the petition letter, and is writing letters to be sent to the legislators in California. Karen is meeting with an attorney in California at the end of October, 2010. She hopes to get advice on how to proceed with this project.

The purpose of the petition is to prove that there are people who want to see a higher level of integrity and accountability from our media. There are people in California who have already said they are willing to go door-to-door with the petition to get signatures. We hope to have this law introduced in California because that is where Michael lived. Karen plans to return from her California trip with a plan on how best to move forward. Karen personally contacts anyone she feels may be of assistance. MJ spends hours every day posting the petition link on websites all over the internet, and keeping us all informed and encouraged. Martha is assisting with getting the petition circulated. MJ and Martha contact, through Face book and other discussion groups, everyone they think would be interested in aiding with this endeavor. Vanessa searches for articles that continue to reflect a distorted image of Michael. All of our sisters on our forum support our efforts by posting encouraging comments; lifting us up with email messages, and of course, signing the petition. It is really a group project of love.

Barbara Owens, Group Journalist
September 28, 2010

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Valmai. Never thought our petition would reach this height. I give all the honor and glory to MY Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Again, thank you for this and my prayer is that America as well as other countries will take this project serious. Michael, as well as others who have passed on deserve better than what they have been delivered. Valmai, "You Rock" and thank you for taking this project as serious as we do. Much Love.