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?



inflammatory writ said...

Um, he knocked the teeth out of a women holding an infant child. The woman's dentist has admitted to treating her for it. He calls women "cunts" and "whores", and uses the word "nigger". He is most deserving of any condemnation we have to give out, especially considering his storied history of misogyny, racism, and anti-Semitism. Sure, he may be crazy, but that doesn't excuse his actions in any way.

The reason I responded as vehemently as I did is because rich, white men get away with this shit every day, and I've grown weary of their defenders.

The reason (in my estimation) that his girlfriend did not call the police is for the same reasons that many victims of domestic abuse don't - which is that she was probably afraid no one would believe her. Or she wanted money. Who knows? Doesn't change the fact that he did what he did and said what he said.

Oh, and I might note that there is a difference between using profanity and vile, abusive, racist language directed at a woman who bore your child. Saying the word "fuck" in anger and frustration and wishing someone would get "raped by a pack of n*ggers" are NOT the same thing. My issue is not with his language - my issue is with his abuse.

Views from Malmesbury said...

Without reference to this specific case - I'm aware of it but not actually been watching/reading anything about it - all any of us can do is judge based on what we are told. This is where the media let us down, they rarely just report facts, they report facets that titillate. They know that the general public has a dark side and they pander to that to make money. They could educate us by sensible reporting but we don't help because we are drawn to sensationalism. Catch 22?

Julie M said...

I like how the press and the public never jump to the wrong conclusion. God forbid that there's been a tape running when I have hit my emotional worse. Cetainly I will not be casting any stones. Maybe those who have never lost their tempers or said one cross word should be talking about this.
Or, if he is judged by a jury of his peers, I (at times) Have been no better. It's easy to point fingers to take the attention from ones self.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of Mel per se but I agree that these situations are so loaded that we need to be careful-- there are issues, like why weren't the police called? And after one incident, how come she was anywhere near him without a huge group of defenders/witnesses.
In these situations, one person may be an a****** but that doesn't mean the other person is a blameless saint.

My cynicism prompts me to wonder if anyone would have cared that 'Mad Max' said this stuff or if it is more of an issue because he made the 'Passion'.
Though I appreciate your cynicism that prompts you to ask if this is an excuse to declare that 'male is bad'-- last time I checked, sin was an equal opportunity player.