Two weeks ago, the Vatican held a much heralded conference on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The Pope said some condemnatory words, it featured a lot on TV news bulletins, a communique was issued and two days later all the cardinals went home. PR job done. What is singularly failed to do was tackle the endemic problem, which is that the Catholic Church has for decades failed to acknowledge that it has an institutional problem which it turns the other cheek to and has pretended does not exist. Nothing will change unless the Pope makes it.
The Catholic Church is not alone in experiencing this unpleasantness. This Wednesday and Thursday Channel 4 will be showing a four hour long, two part documentary about Michael Jackson and his alleged abuse of young boys at his Neverland ranch. Just as the Catholic Church has been in denial about abuse, so has the general population been in denial about Michael Jackson's predilictions.
We all continued to buy his records, radio stations continued to play them. But we all knew, didn't we? We may not have had proof, but the circumstantial evidence was there. We all ignored it and continued to be fascinated by the so-called 'Prince of Pop' - the ageless Peter Pan figure who loved to surround himself with children and pretended to still be one. The pretence was fake, and we all knew it.
Channel 4 is facing a law suit from the Jackson estate which is trying to ban the documentary from being shown. Outrageous. The public deserves to know the truth about him, and we can judge the truthfulness of those who were abused. What I have never quite understood is the role of the children's parents, all of whom seemed quite happy for their kids to sleep in Jackson's bed. Indeed, the parents often slept in the same house. Weird in the extreme. Were they so beguiled by his fame or his money that they ignored what was staring them in the face?
This weekend we learned that Radio 2 has pulled Michael Jackson songs from their playlist in advance of the Channel 4 documentary. How delightful of them to signal their virtue in such a way. Inevitable, I suppose, and I doubt there's any going back. But the truth is that Michael Jackson's music was some of the best of its generation. Should we now feel guilty if we listen to it and enjoy it?
I remember when Cliff Richard was being accused of similar misdemeanours, I said live on the radio that Miss You Nights was my favourite song of all time, and that wouldn't change even if Cliff was found guilty. On the same basis, I'm afraid I will continue to enjoy Billie Jean and Beat It and they will remain on my iPhone playlists. So there.
This article is an extended version of one I wrote for my weekly newsletter