If Michael Jackson’s Last Doctor Is Guilty of Manslaughter, So Am I

If Dr. Conrad Murray is guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson, well then so am I and about half of America.

For the record, I’m not currently on any prescribed medications. Nor am I one of the eccentric Jackson fans still living in Neverland and disbelief on exactly who Michael Jackson was. And for the sake of clarity, he was a gifted and talented man who had a penchant for young boys and controlled substances—and what Michael wanted, he often got. Case in point, let’s just say he finally got the sleep he was looking for. Too bad he’ll never awaken to tell us how it was to finally go to sleep.

Now onto Dr. Conrad Murray and this charge of involuntary manslaughter for his use of the operating-room anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid for Jackson — at the deceased’s request.

Michael Jackson was a grown-ass man capable of making grown-ass decisions on his own. He knew exactly what he was doing when he directed his doctor to give him propofol.

Look—I know smoking is bad for my health and will eventually lead to cancer and more than likely my death. I know it, the execs at Lorillard Tobacco Company of Greensboro, North Carolina, know it, and the clerk at the gas station who sells them to me knows it too. Like Michael Jackson, I am grown and I know with every inhale and exhale exactly what I am putting into my body and the danger it causes. Am I trying to kill myself? No, just like I don’t believe that the suits over at Lorillard Tobacco Company or the businesses that sell cigarettes are trying to kill me. Like Dr. Conrad Murray, they’re in it for the money. So if I die, well then, that’s on me. I knew the risks from the first puff.

My decision to smoke is no different from morbidly obese adults who still insist upon eating fast food and refuse to do anything to get down to a healthy weight. When they roll over and die from that Big Mac, large fries, and Coke, whose fault is it, McDonald’s or their own? What about lawmakers whose indecisiveness and partisan bickering over healthcare reform indirectly contribute to preventable deaths because universal or even affordable healthcare wasn’t an option? Are prosecutors going to charge politicians with involuntary manslaughter?

If Dr. Conrad Murray is guilty of anything, it’s ambition, greed, and stupidity. Being the personal doctor of the world’s most famous pop singer isn’t a bad gig if you can get it, nor is the dough associated with it. Now, was it worth it? Probably not, but that’s a question only Dr. Murray can answer. As for the stupidity aspect of the whole thing, I truly believe the ambition and greed contributed greatly to it.

Still not convinced Dr. Murray should go free? Consider this.

My grandmother is a diabetic who the doctor told in no uncertain words that if she didn’t leave the salt and the sweets alone, she was going to lose a leg, maybe two, and more than likely die. So when I take her out to eat at Sizzler’s where she piles fried chicken legs onto her plate, which will eventually lead to her demise, according to L.A. Prosecutor’s reasoning, I should be guilty of involuntary manslaughter as well. I know she is a diabetic. I know what the doctor said was going to be the outcome if she eats specific foods. I take her to Sizzler’s and I pay for the bill. There you have it. I am guilty.

It’s obvious I love my grandmother, so there’s no malice or intent, not that prosecutors have to prove it anyway for an involuntary manslaughter charge. But if my grandmother should die and the cause was proven to be what she ate, well that qualifies as a lawful act performed “without due caution and circumspection.” Lock me up ’cause I’m guilty as charged. And like Dr. Murray who had Jackson’s permission, I have my grandmother’s permission to take her to Sizzler’s Steakhouse — in fact, she specifically asks me to take her to Sizzler’s so she can eat those fried chicken legs. Although unlike Dr. Murray, my grandmother isn’t paying me, but in my defense, she sure does know how to lay the guilt on me when I don’t do what she asks.

If L.A. prosecutors want to charge someone with involuntary manslaughter, they can start with parents who smoked around their children, which eventually led to their children being diagnosed with cancer and dying. And if the children didn’t die but contracted asthma or some other form of illness, charge them anyway.

Another good start would be admitting that overweight and obese children whose parents do nothing about their children’s weight and continue to feed their children fast food and sweets are the victims of child abuse. Holding the parents accountable in a criminal court of law would make perfect sense. You see, I believe that unlike Michael Jackson who was grown, children are not adults responsible for their own behavior.

Perhaps even more puzzling in the drama known as the “Death of Michael Jackson” is that while prosecutors in Chicago couldn’t manage to charge a certain other pop singer with rape or even the possession of child pornography — even with video of the crime — here in L.A., our prosecutors found the time to pull a rabbit out of hat under the guise of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a grown-ass man who had a penchant for young boys and controlled substances.

Until we’re ready as a society to reexamine what constitutes a criminal offense, including the offenses I cited earlier, anyone looking to blame someone for Michael Jackson’s death should start here… 1712 South Glendale Avenue, otherwise known as Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

jasmyne_cannick_2Yeah, I know Michael Jackson’s music was loved, as with that other singer from Chicago. I was a fan too before I found out the truth. But let’s not get crazy here. It’s not like he was cranking out the hits before he died and blaming Dr. Conrad Murray for his death isn’t going to bring Michael back — not that he was “here” technically when he was alive. And if you charge Dr. Murray, why not charge everyone else who technically aided and abetted in the committing of said crime by knowing what was transpiring between Jackson and his doctor and doing nothing about it?

Bottom line: If Dr. Conrad Murray is guilty of involuntary manslaughter I guess the only thing left for me to say is, where is my “Free Dr. Conrad Murray” t-shirt?

Jasmyne Cannick

Unexpected and unapologetically Black, at Jasmyne Cannick, 32, is a critic and commentator based in Los Angeles who writes about the worlds of pop culture, race, class, sexuality, and politics as it relates to the African-American community. She can be reached at www.jasmynecannick.com.


  1. kelly says

    Tom and Don you are both wrong headed and obviously unpatriotic. The pedophile wanted to go to sleep and asleep he went.

    Tom, what does corporate crime run amok have anything to do with anything related to this article??? Where is the evidence that Jacko didn’t ask for sleep from the good doctor?? Was the offending drip prescribed to him or his doctor?? You don’t know, we don’t know.

    Don, if I want a narcotic from a doctor I will feign a soft tissue injury and get what I want with a small co-pay. Also, are you a lawyer or do you just play one in forums? It wasn’t involuntary manslaughter, it was just plain OOPSIE.

    Jasmyne, probably the most level headed article I have ever read in LA Progressive. Your parallel is correct and right on. In fact people like Tom and Don drive me nuts and they know it. They should be held liable for whatever I am about to do on account of their wrong headedness and their need to promote a “letter of the law”.

  2. Don Tosaw says

    Tom is exactly right. Better think this one through again, Jasmyne. It is unreasonable to expect people without extensive medical training to be able to assess the risk/benefit ratio of using most prescription drugs. That is why we require you to obtain a prescription from a licensed physician or physician’s assistant working under the direction of a physician in order to obtain them or have them administered by IV or injection. Not even pharmacists are allowed to prescribe them.

    If I were to ask my physician for a prescription for a narcotic pain medication simply because I wanted it, the answer would be NO. The answer shouldn’t become a “yes” simply because I pay him a large some of money. Involuntary manslaughter is the correct charge here.

  3. Tom says

    It’s good to see LA Progressive giving some space to right-wing extremist screeds. It helps us see more clearly the difference between emotion driven argument and thoughtful analysis.

    After Mr. Jackson’s death, the FBI file on him was released, showing that the FBI tried, for decades, to lay child molestation, drug abuse and other charges on him. The FBI, with all of its sophisticated tools, was unable to find any real evidence to support the hate driven claims made against him.

    The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s office and prosecutors were similarly unable to convince a jury in one of the most conservative parts of the southland to believe child molestation charges.

    The toxicology reports from his autopsy found no illegal drugs in Mr. Jackson’s system.

    So why must we read, yet again, more repetitions of the claims that he “had a penchant for young boys and controlled substances”?

    In this age where corporate crimes run amock, and we learn every day about new instances of government refusing to enforce regulations which seek to make corporations bear even some of the costs of their pollution, dangerous products, etc., why are we reading another libertarian essay trying to excuse a doctor, who had a license from the state with specific requirements on his use of controlled substances?

    What evidence is there that Mr. Jackson ever told the doctor what to do?

    Even if a patient tells a doctor what he wants, is that an excuse for the doctor to do things that are prohibited by law? Or to do things (legal or not) that he knows may hurt or kill the patient?

    A licensed doctor ignoring his legal duties to both the patient and to the state that licensed him is hardly the same as your suicidal impulse to keep smoking, or a fat person’s impulse to keep eating.


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