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Fans should stick to the music - Greg Gelpi

There's a reason that the word "fan" comes from the word "fanatic."

Pure fanaticism enables the human mind to discard reason and pack away common sense in order to create a fantasy world of pink elephants, schnozberries and honest politicians.

Or, as was again witnessed Wednesday, fanaticism can even bypass the judicial system.

Men and women, young and old alike abandoned jobs, families and their lives as a whole to champion their leader, Michael Jackson.

One woman interviewed on television said she up and quit her job as a teacher, one which she held for more than a dozen years, to stand watch and keep vigil for Jackson. She stood among an international crowd of believers, faithful to the religion of stargazing.

The words "evidence," "trial" or anything within the same realm as "guilt" don't exist in the magical fairly land of the fanatic, a land eerily similar to that of Jackson's Neverland Ranch.

I'm not condemning Jackson. Neither, however, am I decrying the injustice of putting him on trial.

As Michael himself said in his own videotaped statement, listen to the evidence and then decide.

Somewhere along the Technicolor road of television heavy doses of Perry Mason and Judge Wapner have clouded the judgments of Americans, somehow shifting the letters around on high school diplomas hanging in hallways until the mind's eye sees law degrees.

Surely facts, witnesses and criminal experts are merely for show, the fanatic fervently holds to be true in his or her heart.

If all the prosecution's facts fit, then you must acquit because those facts must be merely coincidental.

In fact, let's not even give the prosecution the opportunity to present even the first fact, before we acquit.

Innocence isn't measured by a rock-solid alibi, but by a pop-solid musical career.

How can someone with such an illustrious music life even be considered to be in the same county as a crime occurring, much less be considered a suspect in the crime?

The truth be told very few fans actually know the guy, yet still plead, tears in their eyes, for his release before a trial is even commenced.

Reminiscent of the O.J. case, I know it's a crazy whacked out notion, but perhaps we should let the wheels of justice turn as they may.

Then, and only then, should we rally for or against Jackson.

Before the Scott Peterson jury declared his guilt, many gathered outside the courtroom, calling for his death.

In much the same way, before evidence has been heard and the facts of the case are presented, many are calling for the exoneration of Jackson.

As a fan listens to a song before casting a verdict on it, so should a fan listen to the evidence before forming an opinion as to Jackson's guilt or innocence.

Fans are truly fanatical, but that fanaticism should be capped before it reaches blind obedience, bordering on worship.

Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.