Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Right To Judge

I’ve been watching with a growing (if somewhat jaded) interest in the case against Mel Gibson that is being theatrically played out in the court of public opinion.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve heard the tapes. They are reprehensible, vile, evil to the point of being demonic. Okay? These rants are the product of a deranged mind.

(And responses have been equally vehement. Note to would-be judges – if you are going to condemn Mr. Gibson’s choices of words, please don’t use the same words yourself. It confuses me.)

And – have you noticed – these tapes (5 so far) would not have had quite the emotional impact if they had been released all at once. Instead, release for each tape has been separated by a few days, allowing the press to instigate the same call for torches and pitchforks several times in a row.

It bothers me that we don’t know how old these tapes are. It bothers me that they are being released right at the time when Mel Gibson’s child custody case is starting. I find it difficult to believe this is a coincidence. In any case, the date when the tapes are released does not make Mel Gibson less guilty. On the other hand, it appears to make Oksana Grigorieva less innocent. Why didn’t she call the police after recording the first tirade? Or the second one? Or the third one? Or … why now?

Both Whoopi Goldberg and Jody Foster have been castigated for suggesting positive aspects to Mel Gibson’s character based on their personal experiences. Since we won’t tolerate any grey areas of actual knowledge here, they are dismissed as naive or stupid - guilty by association.

Nobody has answered this question – why is he mad? What started him down an emotional hill so steep that he literally has difficulty breathing? Is he truly a monster, or is he sick? If we judge without an answer to this question, what does that say about us?

And that is what concerns me the most. We don’t really care what Mel Gibson has or has not done. He's a token. We are content with one side of the story, which allows us to anoint him king of everything despicable in the male psyche. To give our passions proper heat we cling to conclusions based on other people’s calculated sensationalism and a decided lust for witch hunting.

Innocent until proven guilty only applies to people we like.

So, in case you feel I am defending Mel Gibson, I am not. In his condemnation of others he condemns himself.

But - I wonder - are we doing the same thing?


Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4, 2010