Guilty! But Dr Murray’s Not The Only OneNovember 8, 2011
Dr Conrad Murray, the man charged with looking after Michael Jackson at the time of his impending 50-date tour at the o2 in London, was found guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter of the pop star after a six week trial. The little shriek in the court as the verdict was read out came from Jackson’s sister, Latoya. Meanwhile, outside the court, Jackson’s fans, some who are totally off the scale in their devotion, were dancing like the munchkins in the Wizard Of Oz, on hearing the wicked witch was dead. Dr Murray has been placed in the county jail, pending his sentencing on the 29th of this month. He’s looking at up to four years behind bars.
Dr Murray quite rightly had to take the rap for his negligence. His (literally) fatal error was to not call the emergency services straight away once it was clear the administration of propofol, an anaesthetic that can knock out a horse at 20 paces, had been too effective at putting Jackson to sleep. In his understandable panic, because it’s not every day you get to look after someone so important, then kill him, he didn’t call the ambulance, then lied about the use of propofol when they eventually arrived. If the ambulance had been called earlier, perhaps Jackson would still be alive today and we wouldn’t have known about that incident. But there you are. Our Conrad will soon have plenty of time to reflect on the Faustian pact he made by taking that job. Dr Murray’s fateful (and fatal) act was the full stop on the sad life of Michael Jackson, but there were plenty of people who took him to the airport of celebrity dysfunction. Destination: misery. The cosmetic surgeons who should’ve refused to work on his face, but couldn’t say no to the mighty dollar, so he ended up looking far scarier than his zombie in that video; the doctors who could’ve found a way to wean him off his addiction to painkillers rather than feed it; the people who thought it was a good idea to ramp up his UK tour to 50 dates instead of 10, as originally planned. Even if he wanted to do the 50 dates, someone should’ve said no. The pressure would’ve been on. Maybe he needed more medication to cope. He got his wish. He’s dead.
And then there’s the family. Leaving aside the well-documented story of the father’s mistreatment of Jackson as a child, I feel conflicted about this one. I heard some callers on a radio phone-in last night asking: “where was the family?” Suggesting they allowed him to fall. Others suggested they’d done very well out of him. I had asked the same questions and came to the same conclusions. But I had to step back a bit and think about it, because we don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes. Families around the world are trying every day to help an addicted sibling or parent. Sometimes, they can turn them around, sometimes, sadly they cannot. Certainly for the Jackson family, the guilty verdict of Dr Murray will prove to be a hollow victory, because it doesn’t bring their brother back and any guilt they may feel about not doing enough for him while he was alive will remain. But maybe I’m being too generous, because La La land being what it is, with the residents not living the same code as the rest of us, they’ll continue to keep the coffers flowing in MJ’s name for as long as they can.
C’est La Vie.