This past week, singer Michael Jackson, who earlier penned a song dedicated to the victims of hurricane Katrina, offered to open the doors of his Neverland Ranch to child victims of the disaster. Jackson's plans for the chldren include "providing a safe learning environment, a warm bed, and lots of milk and cookies" a spokesman stated yesterday.
In order to best allocate resources, Jackson has limited the invitation to male children ages 9 through 14, who, according to the spokesman, "would have the best time playing in the unique environment of Neverland."
Many excited parents have already accepted the invitation, but some we're dismayed to discover that they would be unable to remain on the Neverland premises. However, many of these same parents were pleasantly surprised when they learned that the King of Pop would be putting them up in nearby hotels and providing them with spending money, including mall gift certificates and a debit card.
Theda Raymond, whose son Dakota, 11, will be staying at Neverland, planned to use her mall gift certificate for a facial and a leg wax. "Thank you Michael," she said excitedly while waving her gift certificate, "I always believed in you!" Another parent, John Chatham, told reporters that he hoped to market his idea for a disaster movie to Jackson while his son, Riley, 12, stayed at Neverland: "Someone needs to tell the story of Katrina," he said, "Someone who wants to prevent future suffering."
Several organizations have applauded Jackson's move, including the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), which is dedicated to building relationships between male adults and children. "Michael Jackson has been a hero to all of our members," said Chester Mulhester, President of NAMBLA, "We have been working on similar projects, but have so far been unsuccessful." Mulhester cited mismanagement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and President George W. Bush as the main reasons his group has been unable to contribute more to helping the disaster victims.
Before Katrina, Jackson's last project was a courtroom drama in which he was acquitted of child molestation charges. When asked for comment on Jackson's current philanthropic endeavors, Thomas Messereau, Jackson's attorney in the earlier project, stated that he would "not comment on a pending investigation, or on anything that could lead to an investigation." "Not that there is any reason to believe that there will be any investigation in the future," Messereau added, before discontinuing the interview.
Despite his philanthropy, some of Jackson's detractors remain critical. District Attorney Tom Sneddon, who prosecuted Jackson on child molestation charges recently, called the hurricane victims "Nuts," and added with exasperation, "Have these people had their heads up their (expletive) the past six months?"
Many of the King of Pop's fans believe that Sneddon is simply upset about losing his court case against Jackson, and that he should move on with his life. "You know, Michael was acquitted in that trial, which proves on thing: He did not molest those kids," said Wiley Kimbro, whose son, Reggie, 10, is planning on relocating to Neverland soon. Another parent, who wished to remain anonymous, simply called Sneddon a "know-it-all who wants to tell parents how to parent."
A Jackson spokesman stated that the children can move into Neverland after several security upgrades are undertaken, which were expected to be completed in the next few days.