This week, Dr. Conrad Murray was found guilty in connection with the death of mega music star Michael Jackson after a two year legal struggle.
But is Dr. Murray really the only one guilty in the untimely death of the King of Pop?
On Monday, Dr. Murray was found guilty, by a seven-man five-woman California jury, of involuntary manslaughter for the June 25, 2009 death of Michael Jackson. During the trial, jurors looked at approximately 300 pieces of evidence and listened to 49 witnesses over the course of the six-week trial. Dr. Murray, allegedly, administered a lethal dose of the drug Propofol—which is used in anesthesia and as a sedative. The Los Angeles County coroner ruled Jackson died of “acute propofol intoxication.
It took the jury less than two days to reach a verdict.
After denying Dr. Murray bail, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said “This is not a crime involving a mistake of judgment…. This was a crime where the end result was the death of a human being.” Dr. Murray’s sentencing is set for November, 29. He faces four years in prison and is, reportedly, on suicide watch.
Dr. Murray, a Houston cardiologist, was Jackson’s personal physician at the time of his death when the pop icon was preparing for a worldwide whirlwind comeback tour. Dr. Murray was, reportedly, paid $150, 000 a month. Jackson had been in rehearsals for a series of 50 concerts dubbed “This Is It.” Jackson, who had hundreds of millions of dollars in escalating debts, was said to have been suffering from chronic insomnia. Reportedly, he often begged the doctor for drugs to make him sleep.
During the trial, prosecutors said Dr. Murray lied about several facts relating to the death of Mr. Jackson and tried to conceal evidence of medical negligence. They accused him of improperly administering Propofol which led to the death of Jackson. It was also alleged that after the pop star lapsed into unconsciousness, Dr. Murray delayed calling 911.
In a statement, Michael’s parents Katherine and Joe Jackson said they were “ecstatic” with the verdict and that “justice has finally been served.” They also said “We have been waiting for this moment for a very long time and we couldn’t hold back tears of joy in the courtroom. Even though nothing can bring back our son, justice has finally been served!”
Was justice served with the conviction of Dr. Murray? The Hippocratic Oath requires doctors “to prescribe regiments for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.” Doctors who take this oath also pledge they “will not give a lethal drug to anyone.” Given the fact Michael already had the drugs Lorazepam, Diazepam and Midazolam in his system; Dr. Murray should have foreseen the possibility of a fatal outcome by injecting his patient with Propofol.
However, is Dr. Murray really the only one culpable in Michael’s death?
The truth is: Michael was dead a long time before his body stopped breathing. Michael’s demise was a slow, torturous one which transpired, over years, before our eyes. This special musician was devoured by a vainglorious celebrity culture and the unethical press paparazzi which promotes and disseminates superficiality, scandal and dangerous gossip to the public.
Without question, Michael Jackson was a musical genius and one of the greatest entertainers the world has ever seen. He filled venues and racked up millions in record sales while bringing joy to fans all over the world. But, like too many entertainers, he was consumed by personal demons— and by a predatory, cutthroat, entertainment industry.
Within our Western world, success is usually described in terms of money and fame. However, many artists are often destroyed when they achieved these things and still find their lives empty. Why do so many entertainers die of drug overdoses, or, commit suicide? Isn’t it ironic a policeman may well live a longer life than an entertainer?
This column space isn’t large enough to fit all the names of entertainers who died directly—or indirectly—due to drugs or suicide. Still here are a few names to consider: Dinah Washington, Charlie Parker, Billie Holliday, Phyllis Hyman, Dorothy Dandridge, Sonny Clark, Frankie Lymon, Donny Hathaway, David Ruffin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, John Belushi, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Kurt Cobain, Dee Ramone, Janis Joplin, Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, Lenny Bruce, Freddie Prinze, Inger Stevens, Chris Farley, River Phoenix, Heath Ledger—and more recently Amy Winehouse.
To make matters worse, child stars, like Michael, face an added danger of being damaged by the pitfalls of the entertainment industry. The travails of Todd Bridges, Gary Coleman, Danny Bonaduce and Lindsay Lohan as well as the untimely deaths of Dana Plato, Corey Haim, Scotty Beckett and Bobby Driscoll serve as a cautionary tale of this reality.
Everyone wants a piece of those who’re said to be “successful.” In Michael’s case, he was eaten alive by the music industry, the paparazzi press—and by members of his own family. Latoya Jackson proclaimed “victory” after Dr. Murray was convicted. However, wasn’t she the one who caused irreparable harm to her brother’s legacy when she proclaimed Michael was a child molester, although, this charge was never proven by her or California prosecutors?
Joe Jackson, the father, points the finger at Dr. Murray as the man solely responsible for the death of Michael. Shouldn’t he take a long look at the man in the mirror for his role in in the psychological damage done to Michael? Mr. Jackson believed Michael was the family’s best hope of acquiring riches. It’s hard to argue with that assessment. But shouldn’t he have developed Michael slowly, instead of burdening him at such a young age?
In the end, many of us share in the blame for the tragedies that occur to stars like Michael Jackson. Our society idolizes them in a way that often negates their humanity. Dr. Conrad Murray’s negligence may have contributed to the physical death of the King of Pop. But the entertainment industry’s iniquities killed Michael spiritually a long time ago.