What we see in Jackson is a manifestation in extreme form of modern man’s increasing unwillingness to place a limit on his own appetites, the precondition that Edmund Burke laid down for the exercise of liberty. Jackson, it is often said, was a child who never grew up; ‘I want, I want!’ was the sum total of his philosophy. He was, in extreme form, a very characteristic modern human type, whose life course was that of precocity followed by permanent adolescence.
Dalrymple wrote about Jackson’s child molestation case twice for National Review. His 2003 essay Our Great Societal Neverland (actually, the essay that first opened my eyes to his writing) examined pedophilia, and 2005’s Looking for Boundaries argued that Jackson’s child molestation case was evidence of “gross sexual confusion in our society”:
Update: Our Great Societal Neverland is available here for free. (Hat Tip: RJK)
Each person is left to decide whether his behavior will cause harm to himself or others, and it is a fact of human nature that we can easily persuade ourselves of the harmlessness of what we want, or are already determined, to do. And conformity has in any case a bad name: It is a form of lese majesté of the individual, and — ever since the end of the Second World War — carries the connotation of the feeble excuse offered by mass murderers, that they were only obeying orders. Not the least damage that Nazism did to the world was to destroy faith in the possibility of decent conventions that ought to be followed.
The Michael Jackson case has revealed a foul swamp of egotism, not just of Jackson alone, though he has hitherto enjoyed the means to live out his tasteless fantasies. The case is an example of what happens when individuals are left to define boundaries for themselves without the assistance of social convention.