Censorship (Michael Jackson, Amazon, Michael Brown, Professor Catherine Strong)

The documentary "Leaving Neverland" went live this week and the reaction online and in the radio stations went ballistic.  The ABC in Australia's comments are here. In this report, they cite the bias of the director/ producers in that none of the Jackson estate is represented. The report reminds us that one of the two accusers had a very different story to tell under oath not long ago. And the report shows the kickback of many of Jackson's faithful via social media. No surprise there.

Australian Damien Shields, the author of a book about Jackson's artistic process and a longtime fan who has come out against the documentary, said the MJ supporters felt motivated to protect the star's legacy.

"I've heard a lot of people say that the Michael Jackson fans are biased, and they don't see anything other than Michael is not guilty, and that they don't raise any points other than all the things that they believe exonerate him. And that's true," he said.  "But the reason we are in a position where that is necessary is because the other platforms that are telling this story are not telling that side of the story." (from the ABC article)
It's happening in New Zealand and up in Canada, "Michael Jackson isn't currently on any MediaWorks (NZ) Radio stations' playlists," Leon Wratt, the company's director for radio, said in a statement to the CNN.  "This is a reflection of our audiences and their preferences—it is our job to ensure our radio stations are playing the music people want to hear." “We [MediaWorks] aren’t deciding whether Michael Jackson is guilty of paedophilia, we’re just making sure our radio stations are going to play the music people want to hear.” In Canada, three major Montreal-based radio stations have also stopped playing Jackson's music. Even the Simpsons have pulled their Michael Jackson episode. Wow.

Michael L Brown is a trend-watcher, an honest critic of the press and a Ph.D. from New York University. His latest blog on censorship is here. He starts his commentary with "With the news last week that Amazon has banned Mohammed’s Koran: Why Muslims Kill for Islam, co-authored by British activist Tommy Robinson and Peter McLoughlin, Amazon has crossed a very dangerous and precarious line."

After Brown demonstrates the books one can buy on Amazon including some pretty horrible books for terrorists and anti-Semitic drivel, he wonders what is next. The issue for Amazon is clear. Brown says, "By banning this book, Amazon is opening up one of two possibilities: Either Amazon will not be consistent, thereby demonstrating extreme hypocrisy. Or Amazon will start banning many other books, leading to a very dangerous precedent. Which books and authors will be next? And what can conservative, Bible believers expect? Perhaps our books opposing LGBT activism or exposing the evils of abortion will be next?"

Censorship is the issue. I listened to a radio interview yesterday on International Women’s Day here on the ABC radio in Sydney. Catherine Strong, a professor from RMIT ( @hellharpywas answering the question of censorship. She had written on the Jackson topic the day before. Her article in The Conversation is here.   She raised excellent thought questions, like, “More importantly, however, is the question of what happens to the stories of the victims. If we stop listening to Michael Jackson, does that simply allow us to avoid something uncomfortable, to not have to think about those little boys and what they allege happened to them?” She likens banning the music to “have put a tiny band-aid over a gaping wound.”

Let’s talk about morals; let’s talk about representatives. Let’s be honest about banning things which are ruinous to society if we can even do that in a free marketplace of ideas world.  But silence and silencing is not the answer. Is it?

I liked the placard in the Jackson piece. "Seek truth; think for yourself" I find so many of my Jewish people are keen underdog supporters. I find we have an innate concern to seek the truth and to follow that, no matter what others think. We are raised to think for ourselves. (Of course, within certain boundaries, of course) Maybe that's why I'm ever attuned to such matters as these. Many rabbis would have banned the Newer Testament (the story of Yeshua) to me when I was a lad. Censorship is not really the way to deal with things. It's best to allow people to read for themselves, to discuss, and then make up their own minds.  Think about this... have you ever read the story of Jesus? Honestly?

I'd be disappointed if every Kevin Spacey movie or "House of Cards" episode or Bill Cosby sitcom or repeats of "Billie Jean" were removed from our annals. Should we never visit a gallery and see a Toulouse Lautrec painting? Was what Mozart did in his mad-cap, out-of-bounds, libido-crazed life evidence we should turn off the radio when "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" is played? Who makes those decisions for us?

Think for yourself. 


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