DOES our prurient curiosity know no bounds? From soaps, where actors pretend to be real people, to reality television, where real people try to act, our fixation with curtain-peeling and gossip has never been so well catered.
The UK government, of all people, are about to throw us another bone. Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke’s plans to allow court proceedings to be televised appears to throw into sharp relief a growing appetite for the government to offer a more transparent view of the justice system.
A glance at the televised trial of Dr Conrad Murray, who stands accused of the manslaughter of Michael Jackson, suggests that this sensible-sounding aim might not achieve the desired effect.
To recap, Dr Murray, who was employed by Jackson as his personal physician, is alleged to have contributed to his employer’s death by negligently administering a substance called propofol, an anaesthetic normally only prescribed in hospital under supervision.
The defence claims that Jackson’s death came about as a result of a self-inflicted overdose and a long-term addiction to prescription drugs.
I suspect that the cold, hard facts of the case will be lost amid the ever-expanding media circus in LA. Protestors gathered outside the courthouse, waving placards bearing words like ‘murderer’ and ‘justice’, will be the loudest voices heard by the general public, as will the hundreds and thousands of Tweets and messageboard chatter offering shrill accusations on little more than a whim, or because they adored Thriller, Bad and pretty much everything that Jackson ever recorded.
This appetite for televised trials of the rich and infamous will only serve to expose the public’s insatiable desire for tawdry entertainment.
All the grief and anger drawn on the faces and placards of Jackson’s fans will not find relief in the pantomime of law that Dr Murray’s trial is in danger of becoming.