Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Remember the OJ Aftermath

With the Michael Jackson verdict in, the extremes that thought he was clearly innocent or guilty will have plenty of time to celebrate their victory or wallow in their disgust. The rest of us can reflect on the many ugly sides of our culture that were exhibited during the trial.

I have no idea whether Michael Jackson is a genuine pedophile or not. I am sure that he is one supremely strange man. I am also sure that a forty year old man should not be inviting an unrelated adolescent boy into his bed unless there are some pretty extreme circumstances, such as a state of poverty leaving no other place to sleep.

And, finally, I am sure that if these were little girls Jackson had invited to his bed, he would have already been tarred and feathered and hung from the nearest tree. As well he should have been. In fact, the rape shield law would likely have been applied, keeping the damning history of the accuser from being presented at trial.

But, these are not the things that concern me the most. One needs to go back to the aftermath of the OJ Simpson trial to imagine what is likely on the horizon.

State legislatures never fail to lasso a hot topic and use it for an opportunity to grandstand. In the wake of the OJ Simpson trial, federal and state legislatures, prodded along by the gender feminist lobby which finally saw an opportunity for renewed relevance, passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and other laws that left men and fathers shuddering in their wake.

Don’t be surprised to see the same thing happen in the aftermath of the Michael Jackson trial. Attention seeking politicians will see an opportunity. They will likely hop up onto the soapbox and then impose new laws regarding child abuse.

Stricter punishment and longer incarceration for pedophiles would be a welcome change. They have shown themselves to be impossible to rehabilitate. And, this should be, at a minimum, a gender neutral topic. Numerous studies have shown that women are more likely than men to abuse children. For example, just in the past few days, Samara Spann, of King County, drowned her own daughter and then cut her head off.

But, if the same pattern that followed the OJ Simpson trial emerges, our local and federal governments will not just “get tough” on genuine pedophiles, but open up loopholes in the Constitution that make any father accused of such a horrible atrocity guilty from the moment an accusation is made.

So, after the celebrations of bought and paid for justice are over at Neverland Ranch, here is the picture a few years from now that I fear:

A lonely man with the whole world turned against him, sitting in a divorce court, suffering the false accusations of child abuse by a bitter former wife willing to use any tactic to get what she wants, knowing that he has no way of proving his innocence when the presumption is that he is guilty.
I hope that lonely man is not you.

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