- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2006

In the commentary and posturing I’ve read about Mel Gibson’s drunken slur against Jews and his incredible hubris about his power and position while driving under the influence of stardom, some things have been left out.

Maybe I’ll sound like an old fogy or some reincarnated Puritan by asking this, but what was a married man with seven children doing in a bar until 2 a.m. with young women hanging all over him? Why do people who get caught doing something wrong — we used to have standards for determining such things — always blame alcohol, or abuse as a child, or temporary insanity, or a mental lapse not indicative of “who I really am,” or a force beyond them (“the devil made me do it”) to absolve themselves of personal moral guilt? Commentators seem to care more about the offense to Jews than Mr. Gibson’s offense to his wife and children and to the idea of what it means to be married (“forsaking all others”).

Gibson’s latest rant was not an aberration influenced by booze. Other statements of his about other groups and individuals, statement made while presumably sober, indicate a pattern. Two years ago, Frank Rich wrote a column in the New York Times about Mr. Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ.” Mr. Rich suggested the film could encourage anti-Semitism. Mr. Gibson told the New Yorker magazine: “I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. I want to kill his dog.” In a 1995 Playboy interview, Mr. Gibson said of a British author who published an unauthorized Gibson biography, “I don’t think God will put him in my path. He deserves death.”

No honest person can say he, or she, has never felt bigotry against a person or group based on race, gender, sexual practices, language, ethnicity or faith. Most of us control it and acknowledge it as a flaw we all share. But most of us, it is hoped, don’t harbor such feelings for long, or let them so fester they become a moral infection that colors our views of an entire group. Mr. Gibson must do more than spend time with Jews, or contribute money to Jewish causes, to find absolution.

Also absent from the discussion about Mr. Gibson is his membership in a profession with a long history of bigotry against certain faiths, political persuasions and individuals who go against the political tide of most in the Hollywood film community. Jewish writers like Michael Medved and Donald Feder have chronicled numerous cases of anti-Christian bias and bigotry in Hollywood. “The Da Vinci Code,” “Saved” and “Priest” are only three contemporary examples.

Here’s a synopsis of “Priest” from movietome.com: “Father Greg is a Catholic priest who works at a parish in Liverpool. Like Father Matthew, Father Greg is not dealing well with his vow of celibacy. Father Greg is a homosexual and he keeps this secret on his own. One night he slips out to a gay bar where he meets Graham. The following day, 14-year-old Lisa Unsworth reveals to him that her father is sexually abusing her. Because of the sanctity of the confessional, Father Greg cannot tell anyone about the abuse. Mrs. Unsworth catches her husband with her daughter and blames Father Greg for not stopping them.” It all winds up before the congregation where “angry and homophobic parishioners confront Father Greg.”

Notice in Hollywood’s moral universe, it isn’t the priest’s homosexual practices and failure to help the sexually abused child that is wrong. It’s the “homophobic” congregation that is stained with “intolerance,” the only “sin” Hollywood recognizes.

This is not to excuse or dilute Mr. Gibson’s offense. It is, rather, to place it in the context of a bigger problem for Hollywood. With a few notable exceptions — gratefully acknowledged — liberal filmmakers believe they can get away with bigotry against religious and political beliefs they oppose. They would never make a film called “Imam” about a hypocritical mullah because that might result in a violent response. But it is always open season on Catholics and conservative Protestants, political conservatives, Republicans and pro-lifers.

With such films, Hollywood shows itself to have a bigotry problem, which, like Mel Gibson, cannot be blamed on booze.

Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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