Inner Michael » An open letter of and to Discovery

An open letter of and to Discovery

An open letter to David Zazlav and the Discovery Channel Board of Directors:

I would like to share with you something really important:

“I am a huge fan Of Michael Jackson and im 11 years old i do not feel right that Michael Jackson’s Autopsy is going to air on Discovery Channel I mean he would not want that and his family would not either and same as us fans.I know other people would not appreciate it and are not approving but Discovery Channel will also lose alot of people watching them cause of the autopsy but Please can you stop it?? Mike was a great man and Everyone loves him but this has gone way too far so pleaseee can you stop this??
From (confidential) Please stop this video :,( ”

Mr. Zazlav, I received a copy of this letter from an 11 year old child who is begging us to stop Discovery’s mock autopsy of Michael Jackson. Mr. Zazlav and those of you on the board, how can we as responsible adults, ignore the plea of an eleven year old child who shows more wisdom than any of us intelligent “grownups?” I implore you to listen to what I have to say:

I am a clergyperson and a nurse and a lifelong healer. As a child, I lived in terror because the “grownups” of the world were threatening to unleash nuclear weapons on the planet. I cried myself to sleep nightly because I was terrified and because the “grownups” who were in charge weren’t doing anything! I am joined by millions of children now grown, who lived daily with that same terror. I  vowed that when I was a grownup I would do something. That something was to work 18 years with the Sister Cities project and in Russia to decommission weapons of mass destruction. I won’t go into details about how we did it but we were successful in our quest to make the world a better and safer place for ourselves and for children. I am asking you to join me in that mission.

Humanitarian work

Mr. Zazlav, if you truly mean what you have said in your statement here then I implore you to consider this: Going forward with the progam that will simulate the public dismembering and dissecting a person beloved by many all over the world and especially by children, is akin to terrorism. Ignoring the pleas you have received and stubbornly airing the mock autopsy of Michael Jackson is to join the ranks of the bullies– on a global scale. What you propose to do in words and images on Discovery Channel as an assault on the sensibility of rational humans and places us all downwind of that assaultive massive weapon.

What distinguishes you from the terrorists of 9-11 when you subject viewers to something that smashes and destroys our humanity? That is not hyperbole, it is simple truth. This planned programming crosses a line– the line of decency, integrity, mature restraint, civility, and the preservation of the sanctity of a human life.

Michael Jackson was systematically dehumanized over the course of 4 decades because his name attracted readers and viewers. The cynical and unethical used him mercilessly to sell their wares, TV programming and newspapers with sensational and untrue ‘titillating’ stories until only a caricature remained. You have heard that Mr. Jackson had problems sleeping. Were you to suffer the same assaults over a lifetime as did Mr. Jackson– on his person, life and reputation, you might also have insommnia and require medical intervention. Many believe it was the constant barrage of bullying that killed Mr. Jackson. That is a reasonable conclusion for the world has never seen anything like it. The assault was protracted and relentless. And here you are positioning yourself to join those ranks. Mr. Jackson was accused of the most heinous crime a person can be accused with and despite his innocence, (and there is ample research and documentation of that) just the horrific accusation alone branded him for life.

The Caricature

A prolific artist and humanitarian, we can only imagine what the world has lost because of his undeserved vilification at the hands of irresponsible journalism and media only for the sake of profit. Mr. Jackson never harmed a child. In fact, he traveled the world gifting children with his visits and generosity and hospitals with new equipment. His philanthropy is legend. But much of the population is in the dark about this great humanitarian.

Children have a sixth sense about people. They are not subject to the cynicism and indoctrination that informs the acculturation of adults as they suffer loss of innocence and near the age of consent. Children still believe in magic, in heroes, in the ability to impact and change the world. And children, when introduced to the magic of Michael Jackson in music, lyrics, video and dance, find that magic echoed in themselves.

Please don’t take that away from them. From us. In a world that is so far gone into commercialism, extremism, sexism, gingoism, nationalism, racism, terrorism… well you get what I am saying… please do not add media terrorism. The world needed Michael Jackson; it needs him now. He gave us magic, intrigue, and his music, dance, showmanship, and in particular his lyrics gave us hope. That is why, Mr. Zazlav, that so many youth committed suicide when he died.

Director with Layne in the shooting of Michael Jackson's "Hold My Hand" video

You do not understand, the adult world does not understand, and the media does not understand what they have done and what they have destroyed. They don’t understand the frenzy of Michael Jackson’s fans or the shining eyes of children when they encounter his music and work. Children and youth see something in Michael Jackson that we “adults” don’t see or have forgotten.

Please do not sully that magic that is so needed and so essential for the children of this world. Please do not destroy their magic man or their memory of Michael. While the “adults” were busy buzzing about and constructing a fantasy Michael Jackson who never existed, he went about the business of teaching a whole generation in his work and lyrics, the same thing that Gandhi and others have taught before him: “look at the man in the mirror; make that change; we are the world; heal the world and make it a better place.”
Mr. Jackson has three living children. You well know that this programming will find its way into their world. This mercenary treatment of a beloved father is tantamount to child abuse. Please, for the sake of the children, reconsider. For his children, your children, my children, my grandchildren and the children of the world who feel the real Michael when they encounter him, who immediately gravitate to him and love him. Ask yourself why that happens. And why it happens consistently. They must see something there– perhaps reflected love? Perhaps the genius in themselves? Perhaps the magic child? Ask yourself: why you would wish to destroy that? Why you would want to take that away from them?

I ask you: How does going forward with this program help to heal the world? How does it contribute to the uplifting of humanity? To its betterment? How does it communicate to children that this is a world that is in good hands? How does it say “you can trust the adults” or “we have your best interest in our hearts?”

How does it inspire them to contribute their unique and special gifts to the world? Or share their one ‘wild and precious life’ with others if they are talented or gifted? How does it convey that they are safe from harm? From bullying? From a world that wounds people irreversibly? A world that exposes the darkest of human nature and does it with glee? How does it redeem us “adults” in their eyes? How. Mr. Zazlav; how?

Michael Jackson was a religious man. He believed in God but he believed even more in humanity. His work and especially his lyrics demonstrate how much he loved the world.

How does this kind of Discovery Channel fare preserve our singular or collective humanity? How does it preserve the sanctity of burial of a loved one? How does it honor the landscape of a life– of one who gave his life, his gifts, and his heart to the world? To a world that didn’t appreciate it? To a world that, for profit, dismembered it and him? He has already been dismembered by a world that didn’t recognize its own heart in a child genius and a magic man.

Discovery would do so much better to feature the triumphs of this man, of his work and his legacy. The world would thank you for that. The children would thank you. If you air this autopsy of Michael Jackson, instead of taking the high road, you will only join the ranks of the dark and sadistic world of terrorism by a media that insists on descending to darkness and forcing us all to live and breathe there with them.
Don’t you see that we are drowing in that darkness? Can’t you bring us some light instead?
Please, Mr. Zazlav, stop this madness. Please help me reassure this child that she can trust us. That she can trust the world. That it is a world worth growing up in. Please help me restore her faith. And if I can’t, then tell me what to say to her.                 
~Reverend B. Kaufmann


  1. eva maria said . . .

    Oh, thank you so much for this wonderful letter. I am praying that we could stop altogether this awful channel. I have also been sending letters. God bless you all. With love, Eva Maria.

    Posted December 28, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Permalink
  2. Kim said . . .

    Thank you Rev. Barbara for conveying the message of this innocent child. I only hope that when Mr. Zazlav reads this letter, (and I have hope that he will) the words of a child will resonate with him deeply. I hope that what Mr. Zazlav conveyed in his corporate message is just not for show. I hope he is sincere. I hope that his heart is open enough to see and feel what this child has said and you have said; it’s what many of us feel as well. If Mr. Zazlav’s heart is open enough to understand what is being asked, then I sincerely hope that he will take action and do it soon. I am holding him in the light as you say, because I believe that people can open their hearts. It’s never too late to do so. Thank you once again for writing what many are feeling and thinking. I know that the “Thank You” may seem redundant because there are so many, but they are sincere and heartfelt. Mine are as well. I have hope and believe all things are possible. I believe that he will see this and act on it. I have to believe. Thank you and Namaste!

    Posted December 28, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Permalink
  3. Doris Velazquez said . . .

    This letter made me cry. It makes me so angry the continuing harasment and abuse Michael’s name still endures. When will it ever stop? PLEASE DISCOVERY, PLEASE listen to this eleven year old who speaks for the millions of Michael admirers around the world. PLEASE do not air this unethical and immoral program; it will be heartbreaking if you do.
    PLEASE be enlightened by this eleven year old who has no other reason than pure love for a loving and giving man. Show the world that DISCOVERY has integrity and respect and will not stoop to the level of cheap tabloids, irresponsible media and other money hungry individuals. PLEASE, this New Years let us bring justice and peace.

    Posted December 28, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Permalink
  4. Brenda Beazley said . . .

    Oh my, you’ve said it all so well. I hope it’s OK if I use some of your “story line” to adapt my own letters to Mr. Zazlav and the other Discovery board members. My passion runs high. Thank you for everything you do.

    Posted December 28, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Permalink
  5. Matt said . . .

    Thank you Reverend Kaufmann. Thank you. If you’re reading this, Mr Zaslav, please hear these words. A lot of people, ordinary, decent people, are trying so hard to reach the part of you that ‘knows’ this is wrong. Please stop this from happening.

    Posted December 28, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Permalink
  6. Maria MJ said . . .

    I pray that this hearbreaking plea from an 11-year old and your enlightened editorial, dear Barbara, find their way into Mr. Zazlav’s heart. We have to keep hoping that there is still good in this world. I am praying very hard on this, on my knees, hoping that God will hear my prayer. Blessings, Maria

    Posted December 28, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Permalink
  7. Jan said . . .

    I am praying for your success and holding space for the brilliance of the human spirit to shine in this situation.

    Posted December 28, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Permalink
  8. SandyK said . . .

    Reverend B. Kaufmann, thank you for your beautiful letter. I do hope and pray that this abomination of a broadcast will be canceled.

    Posted December 28, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Permalink
  9. Anne Mette Jepsen said . . .

    Dear Rev. Kaufmann! I cannot thank you enough for this letter to Mr. Zazlav and the border of Discovery Channel.I pray that they will read it and fully understand the importance of it all. God Bless You! I support stopping this program with all my heart! Anne Mette Jepsen, Denmark

    Posted December 28, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Permalink
  10. Elizabeth said . . .

    Thank you Rev Kaufmann for shining the light on this situation through the young child’s heart felt cry. Michael does not deserve this and prayerfully (as many of us are praying) Discovery Channel will be willing to step into the space of light we are offering and holding for them. For human decency and respect for a gifted genius humanitarian named Michael Joseph Jackson: Discovery please do the right thing and cancel this program and do it because it is the right thing to do. Still holding space for hope, light and love –

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 3:00 am | Permalink
  11. Lauren said . . .

    Beautiful, Barbara. Insightful, wise and loving reminder of why it is so very important to respect and honor Michael and his legacy. This gut wrenching insult to Michael, his children and family and all of us who love him, shines a light on a lack of human compassion and understanding that is just shocking. Thank you for your passionate appeal for sanity and simply doing the right thing.

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 3:09 am | Permalink
  12. Silvily said . . .

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for saying in such profoundly strong and beautiful language what is in our hearts. Discovery channel is indeed cold and heartless if this does not move them to cancel the autopsy. Thank you a million times. L.O.V.E to you.

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 4:57 am | Permalink
  13. gertrude said . . .

    As well as our letters – none more potent than Reverend Barbara’s and thank-you SO much for this example of greatly effective communication – I truly believe we must get on our knees and pray deeply and relentlessly for this to be stopped and ERASED permanently. Not just to stop the abomination of this Filthamentary but to stop the abomination and depravity actually airing such thing will inflict on our collective soul with. If an atomic strike was imminent we’d be praying 24/7 for a Power to stop it. I see this just as threatening to our own humanity. I do NOT want to live in a world that allows this. When is it ENOUGH?

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 5:12 am | Permalink
  14. lisa boland said . . .

    What a beautiful letter and wonderful comments.
    Mr. Zazlav,
    How can any body think that this was a great idea for a program? I loved the discovery channel. Now, I am blocking it from my cable programs if this airs. Michael has been dissected all of his life. We KNOW what killed this man of God. We, the people of the world do not need to be shown how Michael died. Will they dissect Mother Teresa next? Gandhi? Martin Luther King? What about John Lennon? I think that the discovery channel should ask it’s staff to offer up their dead family members. Then, one by one, show those autopsies. Let’s start with Mr. Zazlov’s family and work our way down. Distasteful? Nah. Great idea! Show it all, in high definition. Any dead children would be even better ratings.

    If this sounds unbelievably cruel, indecent, inhumane and bordering on sociopathic, then, Mr. Zazlav, look in your mirror. You refuse to think of Michael’s family and the millions and millions of people that revere him. How dare you attack a dead man? A gentle, kind, genius. A loving human being that cared about the world and it’s inhumanity, it’s flaws and the people who destroy instead of uplift. You are nothing more than a vulture. I will not plead with you. You are obviously not capable of feelings. I am writing to tell you that YOU are indecent, flawed, and have no sense of the harm you are about to do.

    Or, do you? Do you have some vendetta against Michael? Are you so jealous of his accomplishments, so eager to literally tear apart someone so loved, that you would show the world every inch of someone that wished you no harm? I think that your refusal to stop this indicates some sort of psychological disorder. You need professional help. When you pass away, [and we all wish you a long life] we will not watch your autopsy either. There would not be enough interest. Because, you see, nobody will CARE.
    Lisa Boland
    Please, DO write to me. I’d love to hear you rebuttal…….

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 5:16 am | Permalink
  15. Dalia said . . .

    If they do not act on this letter then demonstrate these people really have no heart. Still have hope …

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 5:21 am | Permalink
  16. Nicole P-H said . . .

    Those two beautiful letters brought tears into my eyes. I can only say “THANK YOU” for expressing in such a powerful way my own feelings regarding this insanity. I pray that this man will listen to your voice, Barbara, and the voice of this 11 years old child, because they truly are the voices of Humanity and Love. Nicole P-H (France)

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink
  17. Charlene said . . .

    Barbara – Beautifully written letter! You hit every nerve, every relevant point and every truth about Michael which Discovery Communications SHOULD be focusing on in their efforts to “make a positive impact in everything [they] do” (quote from David Sazlav’s Message – link provided above.) As I was reading this poignant letter through my tears, I thought wouldn’t it be wonderful if they did an about-face and actually decided to air a program about the “Undiscovered Michael Jackson” – all about his good works! Now wouldn’t THAT be something to celebrate! And a very fitting program for the Discovery Channel to produce. If your letter alone doesn’t touch something in the heart of this man and inspire him to make a bold decision to cancel this program for ethical reasons, then I’m afraid we have gone farther into the abyss than I suspected. And, of course, we will have much more work to do to raise the media’s consciousness! This man looks and sounds like a decent human being. Let’s hope he is not too firmly ensnared in the corporate trap to do the right thing.

    Lisa Boland – I LOVE your moxie, girl! Please do let us know if you hear back from Mr. Zazlav. I would love to hear his rebuttal to your comments!

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink
  18. malcy said . . .

    A lovely article!Hope it yields results.

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink
  19. Corazon Amari said . . .

    Discovery has to be stopped broadcasting this! It is a cruel act to a dead person, infringing human rights which cannot be taken away even after the death. There is no public interest in it. So far I understand the numerous posts all over. The Discovery contributions will not provide e.g scientific informations or similar. It is just a shame!

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Permalink
  20. NellieO said . . .

    Thank you so much for pleading with Mr. Zazlav & The Discovery Channel to suspend this horrific “show”. What an absolute atrocity it will be. I intend to call my cable provider to voice my disdain for this program and ask how to BLOCK Discovery on my TV ASAP. My own father passed away when I was 10 years old. He died following a fall from a balcony and emergency surgery to save his life. When I was about 16 or 17 years old I discovered the autopsy report in my mother’s dresser drawer and still remember the horror of sitting on the floor crying as I read the grisly details. I can not fathom how it will feel for Michael Jackson’s children or mother to have to know (and perhaps see) the grisly details of their own father’s/son’s autopsy being recreated and produced into a “show,” to be broadcast for public consumption! What has this world come to? What would make anyone think that THIS is OK?

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Permalink
  21. Heidi said . . .

    Reverend Barbara: Absolutely brilliant. Thank you. I continue to hold space that change is on its way for this planet rather than this seemingly endless circling of the drain. We write, we plead, and we pray, but most remain asleep. They literally cannot hear us. Yet. But change IS coming, and The One who opened the door will have his day. I guarantee it. Thank you Michael.

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 8:13 pm | Permalink
  22. Felicity said . . .

    What a powerful letter. I can only hope and pray the executives of Discovery Channel will rethink the airing of this awful program. This has spurned me to write my own letter TODAY. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink
  23. Susan T said . . .

    Reverend Barbara,

    If your impassioned plea is rebuffed, then I have no hope for mankind. Oh, God I pray he has a conscience and acts on it.

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 9:40 pm | Permalink
  24. Cindy said . . .

    My emotions about this whole miserable situation have gone all over the place: rage, disgust, shock, despair…I’m trying so desperately to grasp onto hope. I pray that reason will win the day and this network will finally come to its senses. This episode should never see the light of day. Please, please, please let that happen! I feel so badly for Michael. Barbara, your letter is amazing! No one can state the facts more eloquently than you. Thank you.

    Posted December 30, 2010 at 5:43 am | Permalink
  25. dee crossley said . . .

    Stop this horrid program; we know the truth and we want justice not this awfull thing. When will you ever leave him alone even in death? You hound him– a good, kind and true man! You will never change that. His legacy lives on. We won’t be watching this rubbish and hurtful thing your doing. It’s against all goodness. I wonder how you would feel if it were your loved one? We know how and why he died. I am disgusted with your channel and will never watch it again.

    Posted December 30, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Permalink
  26. Tina Albritton said . . .

    I truly don’t understand how a child of God can think of something so evil not unless this is someone whom is a also a child of evil. Can any employee who is working on this mock autopsy tell me they can do this to their family member? Because if so, then we all know we are pleading to people with no heart. This wrong on all levels, it’s mind boggling! Michael Jackson is a human being. Why wasn’t a mock autopsy done of Mother Teresa or the Pope, or maybe Elvis. There are no words to inform those guys at Discovery Channel how this is not right at all!

    Posted December 30, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink
  27. Martha Brooks said . . .

    “Out of the mouths of babes…’ Thank you Barbara, you speak my heart. My respect and admiration for you and your eloquence grows by leaps and bounds. I’ve every confidence that this will not be allowed to be. The power of love and prayer is limitless.

    Posted December 30, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Permalink
  28. appleh said . . .

    Rev. Barbara, thank you very much for sending this letter. I just heard, that a dutch TV-Station refused to broadcast this “documentary” out of respect for Michal´s family. If this is true, this is a little victory and I hope others will follow.

    Posted December 30, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Permalink
  29. Sue Springer said . . .

    Thank you Rev B. for this amazing letter. I had not read it until today, just after learning that Discovery has pulled this disgusting program. I do not believe their action is only because the Estate voiced their dismay. I believe it is due also to your amazing letter, and to the combined efforts of all of us that love Michael and sent our letters and e-mails. This is such an affirmation of our pulling together and doing what is right. I am in tears and again have hope that together we can effect change. When I saw the ad for this program, my hope had waned considerably. This affirmation of our combined efforts, for me, is a mandate that we must continue using our reasonable and loving voices to effectively fight for change whenever we see the need, not just for Michael but for all of us. He would be so proud of us I think. Again, thank you Rev. Barbara for all your love and guidance. I am ready to keep working hard. Love and peace, Sue.

    Posted December 31, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Permalink
  30. Tricia said . . .

    Thank you for this insightful and heartbreaking plea that will hopefully make a difference and stop this insanity.

    Posted January 1, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Permalink
  31. Skye said . . .

    We did it the Discovery show is canceled thank you so much for organzing us. We are firece, united and loyal loving fans. Thank you Rev B for your time and care. MichaeLOVE from a sparkle, Skye dot # 10720 MJTP

    Posted January 2, 2011 at 3:11 am | Permalink
  32. Anneuk said . . .

    Dear Rev Barbara,
    I have just read that Discovery have pulled the plug on this disgusting programme. In the main we have you to thank, your impassioned letter to Discovery hit the mark where it was needed.You wrote with compassion and love stating what the world felt. I’m so happy that on the first day of a new year we get this wonderful news.Thousands wrote letters and emails and this just proves that we can make a change in Michael’s name.Together we are strong.You are the lady that provides us with the momentum to act and for that I love you so much. Let us all keep sparkling. With much love Anne UK xx

    Posted January 2, 2011 at 4:21 am | Permalink
  33. SandyK said . . .

    What a beautiful new year it is… so far! That horrible program has been cancelled– for now! But it could air in the future at sometime. I’m afraid that Discovery will broadcast the show without advance warning so I hope that MJ fans will keep the pressure on Discovery U.K. and continue to sign petitions to have the show canceled permanently! The petition has over 10,000 now with more to come. Please keep signing! Thanks all.

    Posted January 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink
  34. Lauren said . . .

    That little guy with the director of ‘Hold My Hand’ has no idea about Discovery or autopsies or letters and petitions. He simply loves Michael’s music because he feels the vibe and the love that comes right back to him. Only 4 years old but his new Michael music and short films are among his favorite Christmas gifts. So, he may be unaware of the drama and impassioned efforts around the world in Michael’s behalf, but he reaps the fruits of that labor… along with many, many other children in this confusing world of ours. I am so happy and proud of everyone who put their hearts in this effort and I like to imagine Michael smiling and nodding and laying his hand on that little guy’s head with his characteristic tenderness and love.

    Posted January 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink
  35. Myrna Ramos said . . .

    Love you all! Your letters made me cry, beg and work for a better place we all can build by our own actions: Love, respect and compassion. Thank you Barbara! God, Michael and much of us are blessing you! Discovery stoped their crazy program. A miracle! Myrna; México, City

    Posted January 9, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

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