If you’ve been stuck under a rock for the last few years let me inform you that the ‘King of Pop’, Mister Thriller himself is dead. Michael Jackson, the man whose songs were the soundtrack of my childhood, died in 2009 preparing for a grueling series of concerts in London that were prophetically named ‘This is It”. His wasn’t a natural death, the coroner deemed the cause of death as ‘avoidable and as a result of a Propofol overdose’. Propofol, an anesthetic normally used on the operating table, was administered to the pop star by his personal physician Dr. Conrad Murray to help him overcome his chronic and dilapidating insomnia.
For his role in administering the drugs, that are supposed to be used only in a hospital environment, and then not acting fast enough to save Michael’s life, Dr. Murray was indicted and charged with involuntary manslaughter, a crime that could fetch him up to four years in jail and cost him his medical license. Well, two days ago the verdict came back and it was ‘guilty’ of all the charges; he was handcuffed, led out of court by marshals and all he has to look forward to is the judge’s sentence on the 29th of this month. As the guilty verdict filtered out of court, Jackson fans, camped outside carrying signs that read ‘Guilty’ and ‘Killer’, started singing and dancing with joy while his weeping sister Latoya said that “Michael was looking over us”. They had got their scapegoat and they could now move on.
I disagree with this verdict and this is why. Michael Jackson did not die of cardiac arrest caused by an overdose of Propofol. An expert inquiry would have fingered not Dr. Murray but rather the Michael Jackson ‘machine’. Let’s look at the facts of this case. Why was Michael, at a ripe old age of 50, attempting to hold a series of backbreaking concerts that everyone thought could possibly kill him? Because he needed the money, simple as that.
The man who, in Thriller, had the highest selling album of all time, some of the most groundbreaking music videos and most attended concerts was broke. Even The Beatles back catalogue, which he had acquired in the 80’s and worth tens of millions of dollars, couldn’t save his hide from the creditors. So, in one last throw of the dice, London came calling and he heeded the siren call, thinking that his last pay day could keep the enemies at the gate. But I have to ask, “How did he get broke, and where was his family as things got progressively worse and worse”? It’s not as if they didn’t know; goodness, I was over here in Kigali and even I knew that things were getting tight over at the Jackson household.
I think that instead of saying things like “Michael is watching over us”, the Jackson clan and the other hanger-on’s should quietly melt into the background and take a long, hard look at themselves. Their irresponsibility cost a man his life and will cost another man his freedom. I’m certainly not saying that Dr. Murray is innocent, far from it. He shouldn’t have ever given Michael those drugs and, as a medical practitioner he should have heeded his Hippocratic Oath that says that he ‘should cause no harm’.
And, the Legend himself doesn’t get to get off scot-free. What in the world was he doing allowing himself to be injected all that nonsense? What was he busy doing buying Elizabeth Taylor extravagant jewelry? She didn’t need it.
This tragedy has many villains and I’m displeased that only two have suffered the consequences, Dr. Conrad Murray. And of course, Michael Joseph Jackson.