Freaks and oddities

We Americans have lots and lots of things we could - and should - obsess about. For the most part, we give lip service to these issues but aren't really concerned enough to actually do something about any of them. Let me cite an example or two for you.

Take fat kids, for instance. Now don't go getting all offended because I used that term. The fact of the matter is that we are raising a generation of grossly overweight children. Ask any nutritionist or health care professional if you don't believe me. Obesity, especially among young people, is a national epidemic. An epidemic, y'all.

And what are we doing about it? Nothing, unless you count getting miffed at columnists who call fat kids fat. Oh, yeah. And suing a fast-food restaurant chain every now and then. But our schools still serve pizza and french fries five days a week, and every high school around still has Coke machines and snacks in every hallway.

The government for which we stand is running a giant Ponzi scheme with our Social Security withholdings, and we all bury our heads in the proverbial sand like so many ostriches and pretend nothing is wrong. Heaven help the person who even suggests a way to try to solve the problem before it is too late.

We are up to our ears in taxes, soldiers are dying every day in a faraway land, and gasoline prices continue to soar into the ozone - which is, by the way, being depleted even as we speak. Or read, as the case may be.

On top of all that, there are still bad guys out there - reference Sept. 11, 2001 - that want us all dead and, according to political pollsters, Hillary Clinton is an even bet to become the next president of the United States.

These are all serious subjects.

So, given all of the above, what is on the front page of every newspaper in the land this week? What has been the lead story on every television newscast and the prime topic of conversation on every radio talk show? And what has been the subject of almost every joke told by almost every late night comedian?

You guessed it. The Michael Jackson verdict.

I have always heard California called the land of fruits and nuts, and now I fully understand why. First, a California jury lets O.J. Simpson walk when the whole world - or at least the part of it with an ounce of ability to think logically - believes he was a cold-blooded murderer. Remember that tearful news conference when Orenthal James promised to devote the rest of his life searching for the real killer? So far, he has searched every golf course from Palm Beach to Palm Springs without any luck.

And now Whacko Jacko has gotten off the hook. Of course, the jurors insist his celebrity status had nothing to do with their decision. I heard one guy say they looked at Jackson like any other regular citizen.

Sure they did. All of us regular citizens show up in court wearing our pajamas - with a paid stooge holding an umbrella over our head. Yeah. That's normal behavior. The guy slept in the same bed with small boys, allegedly gave them alcohol and pornography, and a jury of his "peers" finds him innocent of all charges.

His peers? If those people were Michael Jackson's peers, I'm a midget Russian astronaut.

I bet Martha Stewart is really irritated now that she couldn't get a venue change to California. In fact, I bet Osama bin Laden would crawl out of that dusty old cave and turn himself in right now if we promised him a trial in the Los Angeles area.

I'm not sure how much Jackson had to pay his attorneys, but it was probably cheaper than the $25 million it cost to pay off the last accusers.

I read that a scientific poll showed that 79 percent of Americans believe that Jackson was guilty of at least some of the charges against him. The other 21 percent agree with Jesse Jackson that his vindication is a great day for American jurisprudence. Hmmm. I guess P.T. Barnum was right when he spoke of fooling people some of the time, etc.

At any rate, the verdict is in, and Jackson is a free man. He will probably have someone write a book about his ordeal and make millions and millions of dollars. He will need them for his next defense or to pay off his next victim.

Whatever. At least the trial is over. Maybe we can pay attention to some real problems now - like helping our kids lose weight or helping our soldiers win the war. I know I'm ready to move on.

But there is one more thing. I have to agree with Jay Leno and others. This would have never happened if Michael Jackson were a black man.

Darrell Huckaby is a Newton County native and the author of six books. He lives in Rockdale County where he teaches high school history. E-mail him at DHuck08@bellsouth.net .