Jewish Journal

Why I disagree with the journalist defending Mel Gibson

by Julie Bien

March 12, 2014 | 3:18 pm

Photo credit: s_bukley/Shutterstock.com

This week, journalist Allison Hope Weiner wrote a column titled: "A journalist's plea on the 10th anniversary of 'The Passion of the Christ': Hollywood, take Mel Gibson off your blacklist." It's worth reading before continuing here.

Before I begin, let me acknowledge the following things:

1) I do not personally know Mel Gibson, Allison Weiner or anyone else mentioned by name in this article.

2) My goal in writing this is not to explain or defend how other less-than-savory Hollywood characters have managed to continue to work in the biz while Gibson has effectively been kicked out. That's another problem for another time.

I'm simply going to discuss Mel Gibson.

As a journalist, I completely understand how a reporter could have a revelation about someone's character after having spent time with them. 

And it's true that the media often unfairly (and without much compunction) tosses its most current unfortunate victim to the lions and then reports on the carnage with the glee of a child using a magnifying glass to set fire to ants.

However, that doesn't excuse someone from acting-out in a despicable, mean way.

In fact, there is no excuse.

Weiner talks about how Gibson's alcoholism is to blame for his outbursts.  She even writes that Gibson admits that when he drinks, he becomes a mean drunk.

Alcoholism is a disease, and one that should be taken seriously.

But not all alcoholics are mean. The kind of hate that Gibson spewed is not part of a disease, and framing it as such does a major disservice to those suffering from alcoholism.

Causation and correlation are not the same thing.

I've personally been the target of a mean alcoholic--one who seemed incredibly kind and soft-spoken, and dare I say it, compassionate when not drinking. That's the person most people saw (much like how this reporter has seen Gibson).

But I saw the person throwing and shattering lamps while manipulative and mean words slipped from his mouth.

Did he have a disease? Yes. Do I think he was an evil person? Of course not. But was his behavior acceptable? No. Do I think he should be given a completely clean slate? No.

There are consequences to actions.

And when you're as famous and public (and wealthy) a figure as Gibson is, you have a responsibility to not do really atrocious things.

Just because others have done worse is not a free pass, nor is it grounds for forgiveness.

Gibson showed that he had (and perhaps has) a lot of built up anger towards a lot of innocent people.

I think it's fantastic that, from what the author said, Gibson is going into the community and trying to better himself. That's a very respectable --and in my opinion, necessary--thing to do considering the situation.

But we should never forget what he said. Doing so delegitimizes all the people he hurt. It's effectively saying, "get over it."

However, it's not the victim's job to "get over it" so that the perpetrator has an easier life. 

If Hollywood chooses to effectively blacklist him, that's their prerogative, and I don't blame them.

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