Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Jackson Innocent - Hope For Benson-Pope?

Jackson Innocent - Hope For Benson-Pope?

By Lyndon Hood

David Benson-Pope
Jury Still Out Michael Jackson In
An Assertive Moment
Could lessons from the Jackson trial be applied to the Benson-Pope case?

Earlier today, in a California courtroom, the jury in Michael Jackson's child abuse trial returned verdicts of not guilty on all charges. This has reinforced my belief that celebrity cases involving the mistreatment of children are best tried by the media.

Much like those involving the mistreatment of pets.

In the system I propose, the case of either side would be presented in a simplified manner, explained by arbiters who barely understand the issues themselves, and manipulated by supporters of either side as best they are able. If the opinion the public forms is unclear, the issue could I suppose be put to some kind of vote.

This method, which works so well for celebrity dancing competitions and general elections, is surely sufficiently robust to deal with a mere act of criminal depravity.

However, one point raised by the Jackson trial's jury and, more close to home, by the Schapelle Corby case's whole population of Australia, has yet to be properly absorbed by the New Zealand media.

At some point we must face the fact that the public, or a sample of its members, can on rare occasions find an accused person to be not guilty.

This is of course at odds with all a journalist's instincts and experience. All the more so due to the additional complications in the case of Mr Benson-Pope.

Pundits are so used to the rule against the issuing of blanket denials by politicians - so aware of the perils of denying everything - that it results in a kind of trained reflex; anyone issuing a straightforward declaration that an accusation is entirely untrue is naturally considered to have just got themselves into serious trouble.

If we add to this the fact that he has the support of his colleagues, the conclusion of guilt seems inescapable.

Yet in the case of Mr Jackson we have an instance that flies in the face of this logical necessity. If there is a lesson to be learned here, how does it apply to New Zealand's own celebrity villian?

It hardly bears thinking about. We may be forced to admit that, despite the obvious ulterior motives of those who made the accusations public, despite a wealth of support from former students and fellow-teachers, despite even his comprehensive and unambiguous public denial of any wrongdoing, David Benson-Pope may nonetheless be innocent.

There is some consolation to be had. The tennis ball thing is just so straightforwardly amusing that mention of Benson-Pope will give rise to images of sports-equipment for years after the story loses its legs. And, of course, newspaper cartoonists would keep drawing him with the mad stare of a slathering attack dog even if he were somehow conclusively proven innocent.

And indeed, the saga need not begin and end with the veracity of the accusations. There are many controversial questions yet to be asked. It is still unclear, for example, whether section 59 of the Crimes Act permits Rodney Hide to keep flogging a dead horse. And, of course, there is the increasing likelihood that a tit-for-tat privileges complaint will be laid against Mr Hide, for implying in the house that the ACT party is likely to be in Parliament after the next election.

Despite what some people might have you believe, the jury is still out.



© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news