Fans of Michael Jackson are constantly on the lookout for allies who will help them shore up Jackson’s tattered reputation, and their quest has resulted in some strange bedfellows. One such fellow traveler, as I recently found out, is RazörFist. (I feel silly typing that – from now on I’ll refer to him as just Fist.)
Fist created a video damning the negative media surrounding Jackson, and pronounced Jackson innocent based on his “research”. This video has been in circulation on social media, being pushed by fans as a “true and dynamic rebuttal of some of the worst lies about Michael Jackson.”
Curious, I clicked on the link to Fist’s YouTube channel. At first glance Fist appears to be living a teenage boy’s wet dream, earning a living making videos about computer games, metal bands, and other trivial subjects that appeal to shiftless young men. Look closer though, and the receding hairline and wrinkles reveal the truth. This is no teenager. This is an unblooded man rapidly approaching middle age who appears to be stuck at Mom’s house. If you were to write a movie of his life it could be a combination of Failure to Launch and Spinal Tap (but without the cool bits).
I know, very uncharitable of me. Fist, if you are reading this, it’s nothing personal. This is going to be a story about how damned hard it is to do real, solid research on Michael Jackson, and I’m going to use you as an example on how NOT to do it.
I pressed play on Fist’s Michael Jackson Rebuttal video and was immediately sorry I did — I was confronted by a relentless, loud, and brash monolog which grated. Fist is neither sympathetic to the ear nor entertaining, and after four minutes I switched off both physically and mentally. Another way had to be found to absorb this performance. I begged one of my best friends to suffer through it and provide me with a transcript, which thankfully she did. Thanks Jess!
While Fist promised to load up the F-18 and drop some truth bombs, all we got was an unpiloted drone dropping dung from a great height. Once I’d read the transcript it became clear that Fist faced a problem that many casual Michael Jackson “researchers” face — lack of access to a balance of materials. It’s easy to get stuck in a particular mindset when searching through Google for Jackson information because oftentimes only pro-Jackson sites appear. To find out the truth about Jackson requires stamina and intellect. Many give up and go the easy route of reading without checking facts or thinking deeply about what certain evidence may mean.
In the first section of the video, Fist argues that had Jackson actually molested children his “provable tactical acumen” and financial resources would have ensured the world would never have heard about it. This isn’t a solid argument. Apart from the implication that there are families with molested children out there who were silenced by the pop star, Jackson’s “tactical acumen” wasn’t evident in his reaction to the Chandler case (as we’ll see).
Fist also recommends Tom Mesereau’s lectures, interviews, and writings so as to be exposed to the same “pertinent, exculpatory evidence” which made him come to the conclusion that Michael Jackson was innocent. That isn’t a great idea, as I will point out at the end of this article.
Having read the transcript, I find it hard to believe that Fist did extensive research, it appears all he did was read a few fan sites and listen to a few Tom Mesereau videos. Fist gets so many basic facts wrong it would be exhausting to list them all, so I will point out only some of his errors. Let’s do some Fist fact checking.
“Michael Jackson recklessly molested boys.”
This isn’t true. Every child that has ever accused Jackson has described in detail the months of grooming that Jackson engaged in before attempting anything sexual with them. Fist only had to read Jordan Chandler’s interview with his psychiatrist, Wade Robson’s complaint, or James Safechuck’s story and that would have been evident. Jordan Chandler spoke of a steady escalation of visits, hugs, and kisses before Jackson attempted anything close to molestation. Similarly, Jimmy Safechuck explained that until Jackson built up Jimmy’s trust completely, his adult friend never tried anything sexual. Wade perhaps is the exception, with Jackson molesting Wade after a very short time together. It could be argued that a seven-year-old mega fan with a laissez-faire mother pushing him onto the pop star must have given Jackson a feeling of safety which led to molestation on the first weekend they met, it’s certainly possible. We know that Jackson followed the same pattern with Wade as he did with the other boys he molested — the level of the sex acts escalated as Jackson became more confident.
Fist: The police only found one item which could be vaguely construed as pedophilic.
During searches of Neverland, police found two books (Boys Will Be Boys and The Boy); two actual photographs of unclothed boys; and 29 naturist magazines.
These items scream pedophilic. The two books are part of a set put out by Book Explorers, an outfit in New York dedicated to publishing “boy lover” works. They are edited by pedophiles, and both feature sexualized images of boys taken by pedophile photographers.
In a subsequent Twitter conversation, Fist maintained that the inscription Jackson wrote in the frontispiece of Boys Will Be Boys – “Look at the true spirit of happiness and joy in these boys’ faces. This is the spirit of boyhood, a life I have never had and will always dream of. This is the life I want for my children.” – proved his interest was totally innocent. Fist then admitted he had never seen Boys Will Be Boys or any of it’s contents. If Fist had seen the book, he would know that the inscription was a ruse – though technically legal, the book contains a plethora of boy’s penises, buttocks, and anuses. It’s doubtful Jackson would have thought to himself, “This is the life I want for my children,” if it meant his children’s genitalia were in full view of the readers these kinds of books attract.
The first of the photos found was described in court documents as “A photograph of a boy, believed to be Jonathan Spence, fully nude”. Jonathan Spence was a special friend of Jackson’s in the mid-1980’s. To suggest there is nothing pedophilic about a nude photograph of a boy owned by a man who shared a bed with that same boy would be disingenuous.
The second photo was equally suspicious, described as “A photograph of a young boy holding an umbrella, wearing bikini bottoms partially pulled down.”
(Some have tried to claim these photographs never existed, as they were never tendered as evidence in court. The photos weren’t tendered in evidence as there were a) no witnesses to Jonathan Spence being molested and b) the second boy couldn’t be identified, not because the photos didn’t exist; the photographs were discussed by Jackson’s counsel.)
On their own, the 29 naturist magazines mean nothing. Put together with the above items, in Jackson’s hands, and they take on a deeper meaning. According to prosecutors at Jackson’s 2005 trial, the common denominator in all 29 magazines was naked boys. Whilst today we would view these nudist magazines as quaint, they are still currently in demand and collected by pedophiles because they are a safe, legal source of images of naked children. According to Bill Dworin, a 34-year veteran of the LAPD who has investigated more than 4,000 sexual exploitation cases, “Pedophiles will frequently have this material available because they can obtain it legally, it’s not illegal to possess”. In his book Naked: A Cultural History of American Nudism, Brian Hoffman explored the history of naturist magazines. Back in the 1930’s when these magazines were published, at a time when images of naked people were heavily restricted, publications such as The Nudist allowed various readings. “An image of a naked muscular man presented readers with a symbol of strength and athleticism or a source of titillation for both women and men. The display of full-frontal female nudes of all body types exhibited nudism’s commitment to showing the body without shame while also providing glimpses of genitalia rarely displayed in other forms of commercial pornography. The many images of children in the magazine communicated the natural joy of going naked and gave individuals seeking out intergenerational sex a venue to gaze at prepubescent youth.”
These items are more than “vaguely pedophilic”, they are exactly the kind of items owned by pedophiles who want to stay just within the law. If we were to talk about items that were “vaguely pedophilic”, would Jackson’s statue of a boy scout in shorts fit the bill?
“Gavin Arvizo’s fingerprint was only found in a magazine along with Michael Jacksons because Thomas Sneddon handed it to the boy at a grand jury hearing before it was tested for fingerprints.”
This charge of Sneddon tampering evidence has been circulating for years among the fan community. Fist gathered this allegation from William Wagener, a vociferous campaigner for Jackson’s innocence. Wagener, who has an interesting background, made many colorful allegations against Thomas Sneddon and could be kindly described as a “crank”.
The story centers around a copy of Barely Legal containing one fingerprint each of Michael Jackson and Gavin Arvizo, which was put forward by the prosecution as proof that Jackson had shown a pornographic magazine to a minor. Overall, it’s uninteresting in relation to Jackson’s 2005 trial because the respective fingerprints were on entirely separate sections of the magazine, making it very flimsy evidence indeed.
The accusation of tampering is more serious and if true would have indicated that Sneddon, normally a meticulous and thorough prosecutor, handed the magazine to the boy at the grand jury hearing to gain false evidence against Jackson.
During the 2005 molestation trial, Jackson lawyer Robert Sanger asked of Detective Paul Zelis (regarding the magazine), “However, during the course of that grand jury, the contents of this, of this briefcase, Sheriff’s Item 317, was handed to Gavin Arvizo so he could look through it, see if he could identify it; isn’t that correct.”
This suggestion caused a stir. What followed was two days of exhausting testimony from detectives and forensic experts on the chain of custody for not just the magazine, but the briefcase it was found in. Away from the jury, there was an extensive argument over grand jurors –traditionally they are not involved in court cases which result from their indictments, but Sneddon wanted the grand jury forewoman to testify that Gavin Arvizo didn’t touch anything in the briefcase. In a cautious move, defense demanded they be able to speak to every single grand juror, rather than rely on just one, to discern the truth of the matter. After much argument from the prosecution about keeping the identities of the grand jurors secret the judge allowed the names of the jurors to be released to the defense so they could be interviewed, on condition they could be questioned about this one issue only.
As a result of those interviews the defence abandoned their assertion that the boy had been handed the magazine by Sneddon, and Tom Mesereau defaulted to the argument that the fingerprint was on the magazine because the boy had broken into Jackson’s bedroom and looked at the magazine on his own, not that Jackson had handed the magazine to him.
“Michael Jackson is dead because of his inability to deal with the unceasing barrage of lies about him.”
Michael Jackson died of an overdose of propofol, a drug he asked to be administered because of insomnia he suffered as a result of the pressure of rehearsing for a series of 50 shows in London.
“The 1993 case was a successful extortion attempt.”
There was no extortion. On August 4th 1993 Evan Chandler met with Jackson and his lawyers, suggesting that unless Jackson paid twenty million dollars he would take Jordan to see a mandated reporter (who would then need to report any alleged abuse to the authorities). If Jackson were innocent this would have been seen as a blatant extortion attempt, yet rather than Jackson and his legal team reporting Evan Chandler to the police, the pop star and his lawyers treated it as a starting point for negotiation and appointed private investigator Anthony Pellicano to work out a deal with the father.
Pellicano offered the Chandlers a million dollar settlement; this was rejected and Pellicano, with Jackson’s blessing, lowered his offer to $350,000. Exasperated, and with a deadline looming where he had to hand the boy back to his wife who would then allow renewed access to Jackson, Evan Chandler took Jordan to a psychiatrist. The boy then revealed abuse at the hands of Jackson. The psychiatrist by law had to report the abuse to the authorities, leading to a police investigation.
On the 23rd of August the first media reports suggesting abuse appeared, and the following day Anthony Pellicano announced at a press conference in Jackson lawyer Howard Weitzman’s office that the accusations against the entertainer were an “extortion gone awry”. Addressing questions related to the monetary offers made to Chandler, Pellicano said “I was trying to set him up with the extortion,” and “I wanted to see if he would take it.”
To bolster his claim of extortion, Pellicano played a tape (which Fist featured in his video) of a conversation he had recorded where Evan Chandler said “This man is going to be humiliated beyond belief and, and he will not believe what is going to happen to him — beyond, beyond his worst nightmares. He will not sell one more record….If I got through with this, I win big time — I will get everything I want … destroyed forever.”
(It wasn’t until a year later, when the original tape transcript materialized in an unrelated court case, that it was discovered that the recording Pellicano played was selected sentences spliced together from hours of conversation to make Evan Chandler’s demands look like extortion. In reality, the transcript revealed a revengeful father who was angry that Jackson, with the help of the boy’s mother, was coming between himself and Jordan. No mention was made of extortion nor molestation.)
After Pellicano revealed the alleged plot to the assembled media a reporter from the Los Angeles Times asked if Jackson’s team had reported the extortion to the police. Pellicano sheepishly revealed they had not. A complaint of extortion was subsequently filed with the police by Jackson’s team; after a five-month investigation the deputy Los Angeles County district attorney Michael J. Montagna announced “We’ve declined to file today criminal charges of attempted extortion,” and that “the evidence does not show that any crime has been committed.” The delay in the complaint being filed, and the negotiations by Pellicano, proved that no crime had been committed. “The law actually favors trying to settle actions without going to court,” Montagna concluded.
“The taped phone call between Evan Chandler and Dave Schwarz is suspicious because it was after Jordan was molested.”
Even though Jackson had molested Jordan at this point, Evan had no evidence his son had been molested at the time the tape was recorded – he only had suspicions that Jackson’s interest in his son was sexual.
“Evan Chandler’s meeting with Mel Brooks could have been engineered by Michael Jackson.”
Robin Hood: Men In Tights was released on the 28th of July 1993. Considering that Evan Chandler first met Michael Jackson on May 20th 1993, it’s unlikely Jackson arranged for him to meet Mel Brooks over a year previously.
“As Michaels’s favors began to dry up, so did Evan Chandler’s affection for the King of Pop.”
Michael Jackson never did any favors for Evan Chandler.
“Larry Feldman’s involvement in the 1993 case and the 2005 case is a big red flag.”
No, it isn’t. Larry Feldman became involved in the 1993 case after taking over the case from Barry Rothman. In 2005, the Arvizo’s lawyer, William Dickerman, having heard that another young boy was caught in Michael Jackson’s web, recognized parallels with the 1993 case. Unsure of how to tackle a huge star in a potentially explosive case, he contacted a lawyer who had taken on Jackson in the past (and won) – Larry Feldman. Feldman did some preliminary investigations in the Arvizo case but was reluctant to take it on, suggesting the family revisit him after the criminal trial was over. They never did.
“Evan Chandler hooked up with Jordan’s stepfather for an impromptu dental exam with his son”
Dave Schwartz wasn’t with the Chandlers during the dental exam.
“The original confession was elicited while Jordan Chandler was under the influence of laughing gas.”
It wasn’t laughing gas, and it wasn’t a detailed confession. After sedation with (allegedly) sodium amytal for a dental procedure, and after promising his son the information would go no further (he lied), Evan asked Jordan if Jackson had ever touched him on the penis — Jordan answered yes. No further questions were asked.
“Jordan was never molested at Neverland.”
Jordan said in his interview with Richard Gardiner that Michael Jackson performed fellatio on him at his father’s house, MJ’s Hideout, his mother’s house, and Neverland. The first incident of sexual molestation (after several months of grooming which started with brief hugs and progressed to kissing on the mouth) occurred at Monaco when Jackson masturbated Jordan.
“Michael Jackson ‘butt-fucked’ Jordan in Monaco”
No, it was masturbation only.
“They had the flu”
According to Jordan, who was there, he and Jackson had colds. There was no evidence of “nasal phlegm” nor “hundred degree fevers” as Fist asserts. Jackson insisted the mother and daughter go out shopping, leaving he and Jordan alone in the suite. Jackson suggested he and Jordan take a bath together, which led to molestation.
“The prosecution never said Michael sleeps in the same bed as young boys, they said he sleeps in the same room as young boys.”
The prosecution always asserted that Jackson slept in the same bed with young boys. Even witnesses for the defense, men who had been allegedly abused as boys and were refuting the prosecution – Wade Robson, Brett Barnes and Macauley Culkin – testified that they slept in the same bed one-on-one with Jackson, not just at Neverland but at hotels when they travelled with the pop star. Several other of Jackson’s boy friends have confirmed bed sharing. Frank Cascio said he shared a bed with Jackson, as has Omer Bhatti. As Fist points out, an adult sharing a bed with a child in and of itself wouldn’t connote pedophilia, and is not illegal, so if it’s a non-issue, it’s curious that Fist needed to address it.
“Parents and entire families slept in Michael Jackson’s bedroom.”
Yes, this happened, but only on rare occasions. Jackson preferred to sleep with just one underage male bedmate over and above sleeping with adults or girls.
“The Chandlers, acting on advice from their lawyer Larry Feldman, deliberately waited to level charges for several months until Michael Jackson had begun his tour for the Dangerous album”
The Dangerous tour commenced on June 27th, 1992, 14 months before the Chandlers accused Jackson of molestation.
“Michael Jackson would have had to cancel the second leg of the Dangerous tour to fight the charges in court, that’s part of why he settled.”
Michael Jackson commenced the third leg of the Dangerous tour on August 24th, 1993 and canceled the remaining few concerts on November the 14th, 1993, prior to settling with the Chandlers in January 1994.
“The Chandler family during the pretrial phase purposefully omitted the photographs of Jackson’s genitalia.”
The Chandlers never had access to the photos for their civil case, the photos were taken by law enforcement for the criminal case, thus the photographs and description were only relevant to the 1993 criminal investigation. Tom Sneddon attempted to introduce them during the 2005 trial and it was the defence who argued that they shouldn’t be produced as evidence. If Fist had read the page he showed onscreen in his video at this point of his rebuttal he would have known this. Curiously, in 2005 the defence did not want this evidence, which would supposedly exonerate Jackson of the 1993 allegations, shown to the world.
“Michael Jackson was embarrassed that photos were taken of his genitalia.”
Immediately after this Fist contradicts himself by playing a video, shown around the world, where Jackson describes (in a laundry list of items which supposedly embarrass him) exactly what the police photographed — “my penis, my buttocks, my lower torso, thighs, and any other area that they wanted” — and goes on to mention his “embarrassing” disease vitiligo. Jackson certainly wasn’t being modest when reliving this supposedly “dehumanizing” episode, he was attempting to elicit sympathy from easily manipulated members of the public. It still works more than twenty years later, right Fist?
Another point to make is that the strip search had no effect on Jackson’s behavior. The sleepovers with boys, the root cause of this purportedly “dehumanizing” experience, continued unabated. Either the experience wasn’t as bad as he made it out to be, or Jackson’s compulsion to sleep with boys was so strong that he could put it out of his mind.
“In fact we know this evidence is weak because much of it was used in the 2005 case and was laughed out of court.”
The evidence wasn’t laughed out of court. The jury heard the evidence from the early 1990’s and were justifiably suspicious of Jackson and his motives. From an ABC News article after the trial:
During deliberations, jury foreman Paul Rodriguez said, he and other jurors frequently discussed the testimony they had heard about past allegations that Jackson had molested or behaved inappropriately with five other boys, including two youngsters who reached multimillion-dollar settlements with the singer in the 1990s.
But, Rodriguez said, the jurors knew they could not convict solely on the basis of past allegations.
“We couldn’t weigh that with this case in particular,” he said. “We all felt that he was guilty of something. But we feel that if he didn’t learn from this experience, then it’s up to another jury to convict him.”
“Sony pressured Michael Jackson to settle with the Chandlers.”
There is no evidence that the decision to settle with the Chandlers was anything but Jackson’s own. The only pressure Jackson would have felt was that Jordan had described his erect penis to police who then took incriminating photographs of his genitals, prompting his lawyer to remark in 2010, “We wanted to do all that we could to avoid the possibility that there would be a criminal filing against Michael Jackson, and the reality was we were hopeful that if we were able to “silence” the accuser, that would obviate the need for any concern about the criminal side.”
“Jordan Chandler never spoke to either of his parents after the settlement.”
Before his death, Jordan lived with his father for many years. Although Jordan did not see his mother for at least eleven years, he is now in a close relationship with her as evidenced by recent photos published of them together.
Once we strip away Fist’s confident veneer we are left with mainly incorrect assumptions, which have led to his erroneous conclusions. Fist could have made valid arguments for some of his points but his basic research was faulty. Simple things, such as the start and end dates of the Dangerous tour, are easily found; others such as Michael Jackson’s habit of sharing his bed with young boys require more digging, but the information is there if one were to search for it. Invaluable resources are the transcripts and court documents from the 2005 trial — even though it takes commitment, a good trawl through them brings up valuable nuggets of information. Contemporaneous news reports can also give an insight into events from the past (the Google News Archive is a good place to start, a subscription to Highbeam is even better if you can afford it) and fill in many gaps.
If using anything other than source material, I recommend due diligence on any supposed facts you encounter before using them for your own stories. Many myths (such as the Sneddon handed Gavin Arvizo the magazine at the grand jury hearings story) can become so ubiquitous that they are erroneously taken as gospel truth. A thorough and analytical approach needs to be taken if you are to be a Jackson truth teller, otherwise you are only spreading more misinformation about Michael Jackson.
My final point: Considering Fist focuses on the 1993 allegations in his rebuttal of accusations that Jackson was a child molester, it’s surprising he relies so heavily on Tom Mesereau for information. The private investigator hired by Mesereau in the run up to the 2005 trial, Scott Ross, revealed in an interview that the lawyer had very little knowledge of the 1993 case, and this was underscored by Mesereau’s lacklustre cross-examination where he bizarrely asked June Chandler questions on totally unrelated subjects including Jackson’s deals with Sony and Pepsi, whether Jackson had visited Roy Disney’s widow, and whether the Cascio family owned a restaurant. Mesereau floundered while questioning the boy’s mother.
Mesereau’s blinkered impression of Jackson is because he views every accusation against the pop star as false, not just because the 2005 trial had so many holes but because Jackson would have told him (as he told many others) that the accusations were only ever about extortion. Jackson has presented himself to Mesereau as above reproach and Mesereau has accepted this characterization without question. It’s not a good idea to rely on Mez or his opinion when it comes to anything but parts of the 2005 case.
Fist concludes his video with an admonition toward a (presumed) rival: “And one last parting shot for Review Tech, hey Richie boy, you know what’s even better than common sense? Fucking research! RazorFist, out!”
Which brings to mind the wise saying, 思ったことをすぐに口にするより 周りから馬鹿だと思われても黙っていた方が良い時もある, which translates as “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt.”
Keep it in mind, Fist.