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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Mel's Meltdown

I agree that Mel Gibson has a problem. I don't agree with many in the media, however, about the nature of his problem.

First, he was drunk, driving 87 m.p.h. in a 45 zone, had an open container in his car and when stopped, let fly a string of insulting remarks toward the police officers.

All of that is bad, even criminal, behavior. His anti-semitic remarks are the part, however, that is receiving all the press. And admittedly, there is no excuse for what he is quoted as saying.

What puzzles me is the amount of coverage this has received. Is this the first time a famous person has been on the wrong side of the law? Or is it the first time someone of Gibson's stature has said stupid, offensive, hurtful things?

So the plastered Gibson said the Jews are responsible for all the wars. People say that about Christians all the time. Stop the presses! The statement, in both cases, is erroneous and bigoted. So what else is new? People are ignorant and bigoted. This is news?

Then I read this article from then LA Times. It has a lot of interesting stuff. It basically says that the people in Hollywood who know Mr. Gibson personally and have worked with him have always known about the man's drinking problem and say that when he ties one on, he becomes a different person entirely. So he acts differently when he's smashed on Tequila? Right. Would you, fair reader, want the world to know everything you've done or said after an evening of excessive revelry? This is not to excuse Gibson's behavior. Just to put it back into perspective.

The Times article then ends in the weirdest fashion. It lists a long history of movie stars who've misbehaved, implicitly lumping Gibson among them. But come on! Fatty Arbuckle was charged with rape and murder; Roman Polanski with rape (and he subsequently won an Oscar). Rob Lowe filmed himself having sex with a minor. By comparing Gibson's drunken misbehavior with these far more serious offenses, we risk the further deadening of our consciences.

Is hurling anti-semitic remarks - as wrong as that is - really as bad as rape and murder? If so, then why aren't people tarring and feathering Ted Turner for saying Christians are losers? Is he to be compared to rapists and murderers like Fatty Arbuckle and Rob Lowe? You can tell when a culture is unravelling when it lacks all sense of proportionality. Gibson did a bad thing. But it's not murder.

It reminds me of when I saw a television exchange between two Roman Catholic priests. One a lib and one a conservative. I don't remember the name of the lib, but the conservative was Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. The lib was barking at Pavone for being so concerned for fetuses but not showing equal outrage over the innocents who've perished in Iraq. God bless Father Pavone. There is a man who understands proportionality. Yes, even a single wrongful death is horrible. But there are btwn 3000-4000 abortions in America every day. Which situation really has the greater moral urgency?

Comparing Gibson to Fatty Arbuckle is a major lapse of moral judgment.

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Preachrboy said...


You are right on, as usual. No doubt some well-meaning Lutheran will take issue with you here though, repeating the unfortunate soundbyte that must be taught too often in our circles, "But a sin is a sin, right?"

Thanks for pointing out that there are distinctions in the severity and kinds of sins.

People would do well to learn the Latin phrases coram Deo and coram hominibus ("before God" and "before man"). I find it to be a useful distinction - that while all sins are equally damning coram Deo, not all sins are equal coram hominibus.

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget the other problem that no one seems to be talking about: why is a married man, father of seven children, out drinking and allowing himself to be photographed with quite a few young women, most of whom are hanging all over him?

Kelly Klages said...

I agree with your post as well. One thing that has bugged me since the release of The Passion is the insistence on Christians, in this case possibly even more Evangelicals than Catholics, putting a famous person on a pedastel because they have expressed that they are a Christian. The Passion was universally referred to among Christians as "the Mel Gibson movie." There tends to be such a hankering for Christians to boast that the rich and powerful are on their side. The higher the pedastel, the more the critics will delight in knocking it down, and the more the sin will be seen as the main representative sins of Christians everywhere (i.e., since they claimed such solidarity with him earlier, all Christians must be raging anti-semites).

RC said...

obviously this will not color Mel's career...although it will be a significant mark in his tabloid history.

Obviously his actions are socio-politically as bad as rape, but his sins are still significant.

I think the large coverage of Mel is a result of many people in the Christian community championing Mel and the Passion of the Christ.

The Media wants to say "here's your hero now." Especially since their was controversy with whether or not the Passion was anti-semetic.

And you know, we as Christians need to teach and remind others not to build their faith on the foundation of people because people will fail.

Many of the large churches are built on a cult of the personality and they are successful because so-in-son is the pastor, and if these leaders fail then it destroys their faith.

Mel obviously needs help with his substance abuse problem. I hope he is able to work through that, and that he finds and seeks out God's presence in this situation.

--RC of

New Curriculum at Concordia Theological Seminary