The Brit writer Theodore Dalrymple, a doctor who until recently worked with prison inmates, had this to say before today’s not guilty verdict in the Michael Jackson molestation trial:

“Those future historians (assuming that an interest in the past survives) will be struck, I suspect, by the confusion in our society concerning sexual boundaries. On one hand, almost no sexual display is forbidden, and the most casual of liaisons is perfectly normal; on the other, university professors dare not be alone in a closed room with a female student for fear of accusations of sexual misdemeanor, and in some offices the most mildly flirtatious of remarks is taken as little short of rape.

“Extreme licentiousness thus coexists with a Puritanism that out-Calvins Calvin. One minute we are told that anything goes, and the next that we must carefully censor ourselves for fear of permanently traumatizing anyone who might overhear supposedly salacious remarks. At last, Herbert Marcuse’s concept of repressive tolerance seems to make some sense: We can do what we like so long as we live in fear…”

Even though we have no idea what went on in the jury room, several TV reporters commented on how conscientious the jury had been based on their requests for additional information.

Andrew Cohen on CBS made a good point–the defense had had to work with a client who had admitted that he liked to sleep with kids. Cohen noticed that during the summation the jury watched the lead defense lawyer, Thomas Mesereau Jr., gave his summation but was inattentive while the prosecution summed up its argument.

I loved the New York Post headline: “Sweat, Freak.” But I have a confession: I don’t know how I would have voted if I’d been on the jury. Jackson is a freak, but did the prosecution show that he had molested children? You aren’t supposed to send somebody to jail for being weird.  

New York’s famous sex crimes prosecutor Linda Fairstein was critical of the prosecution on ABC, noting that in his opening argument DA Tom Sneddon told the jury things they would hear from his witnesses only to have the witnesses say the opposite.

(Fairstein added that there was good corroborating evidence for the charges (a child’s fingerprints on some of Jackson’s pornography and the information that Jackson likes sleeping with kids) but that the prosecution made their own case look weak by bringing in previous charges that had been dropped.)

But here’s what was really worrying me about today: the fans, one of whom went so far as to release a white dove as every “not guilty” was read. Their enthusiasm for Wacko Jacko says something about our society.