Mel Gibson: The fall of a conservative icon

In recently released recordings, Gibson is heard verbally abusing his ex-girlfriend, as well as engaging in other profanities against women, blacks, and Latinos.

“The death throes of Mel Gibson’s career feel less like another Hollywood scandThe actor, who was caught in a “fabled anti-Semitic rant” during a DUI arrest in 2006, is heard in recently released recordings verbally abusing his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, and telling her she “deserved” to be punched in the face while holding their infant than the last gasps of an American era,” said Frank Rich in The New York Times. Gibson is also heard aiming a “profane fusillade at women, blacks, and Latinos.” Yet only six years ago, at the height of the Religious Right’s political power, this “nasty, bigoted blowhard” was a “conservative culture hero,” lauded on the right for his moral compass and his “ludicrously violent,” blatantly anti-Semitic film The Passion of the Christ. Since then, the evangelical leaders who once lionized Gibson have been undone by their extremism and “rent boy” scandals, and Gibson has been exposed for what he was all along—a nut case, seething with misogyny, racism, and rage.

“Gibson’s reputation is tarnished by these tapes,” said Ezra Levant in The Toronto Sun, but the double standard employed against him is impossible to ignore. “Alec Baldwin left abusive phone messages directed toward his daughter; he’s the toast of the Emmys.” Child rapist Roman Polanski receives “no end of prizes and tributes.” Charlie Sheen shot a girlfriend in the arm, threatened one wife, and was charged with assaulting another. Sheen’s penalty? A lucrative contract renewal for his television show Two and a Half Men. The obvious difference, of course, is that “Baldwin, Polanski, and Sheen are perfect liberals; Gibson is a Christian conservative.” If Gibson wants to beat the rap and get his career back, he should send a check to Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

The man’s politics are beside the point, said Nathalie Favre-Gilly and Deborah Collins-Gousby in The Boston Globe. Men who abuse women come from all walks of life, generating “fear, misery, and despair on a daily basis.” There are 5.3 million incidents of domestic violence each year; one in four women experience something like Gibson’s abuse sometime in their lifetimes. Gibson may once have been a stupendously rich, famous actor, said Lindy West in the New York Daily News, but now he sounds and acts like a crazy drunk outside a liquor store, raving at imaginary enemies. “There’s not a person in there anymore. There’s just madness and gin.”

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