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The Passion of Saint Mel (Gibson that is)

by Michael Shermer, Aug 03 2010

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To understand the lunatic rantings of Mel Gibson you need know only a few core characters of the man, starting with his first name, which comes from Saint Mel (or Moel), a fifth-century Irish saint who worked to evangelize Ireland in the name of the Papacy. Saint Mel is the patron saint of the Roman Catholic diocese of Ardagh, where Mel Gibson’s mother came of religious age.

The young (modern) Mel was brought up by his Traditionalist Catholic father, Hutton Gibson, where the doctrine of “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus” (“Outside the Church there is no salvation”) was preached. Of course, what constitutes “the church” determines the circumference of the salvation circle, with religious liberals opting for those who accept Jesus as their savior as eligible for salvation, while religious fundamentalists, literalists, and apparently traditionalists holding to the strict dogma that if you are not Catholic you are not saved. Here is what Mel Gibson once said about his own (apparently long-suffering) wife Robyn, who is an Episcopalian: “There is no salvation for those outside the Church … I believe it. Put it this way. My wife is a saint. She’s a much better person than I am. Honestly. She’s… Episcopalian, Church of England. She prays, she believes in God, she knows Jesus, she believes in that stuff. And it’s just not fair if she doesn’t make it, she’s better than I am. But that is a pronouncement from the chair. I go with it.” The Chair. That’s refreshing. Here’s a bumper sticker for Saint Mel’s car: The Pope Said it, I believe it, That Settles it.

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Portrait of Mel Gibson’s Father, Hutton Gibson. Photograph by Kylie Melinda Smith, Sun Herald

The intolerance of this dogma cannot be overstated, but to be fair the Papacy is merely channeling the gospel, in this case John 14:5-6: “Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” And this means what for the Jews?

Speaking of the blood libel against the Jews, Saint Mel’s filmic opus, The Passion of the Christ, was one long argument (amplified with copious blood and raw flesh) for the justification of two millennia of anti-Semitism: the Jews killed our Lord. In point of fact it was the Romans who killed Jesus who, let’s not forget, was Jewish, so if the Jews were the perpetrators this would only mean that Jesus was killed by his own clan. (Do people really need to be reminded that before Christ there was no Christianity and there were no Christians? Apparently so.) And in any case, if the life of Jesus had to unfold as it did in order for him to transmogrify into the Christ (the Messiah)—which we are told had to happen for the atonement of original sin that would otherwise condemn all of us to eternity without God—then shouldn’t Christians be thanking the Jews for doing what, after all, they had to do? In any case, here is what the best extra-biblical source, the Roman historian Tacitus, said about it in chapter 15 of his Annals of Imperial Rome:

film still from The Passion of the Christ

Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilatus. But in spite of this temporary setback the deadly superstition had broken out afresh, not only in Judea (where the mischief had started), but even in Rome. All degraded and shameful practices collect and flourish in the capitol.

Skeptic magazine’s religion editor, Tim Callahan, concludes:

Here Tacitus, showing the same antagonism for Christianity evidenced in the Talmudic writers, says that it was temporarily checked when Pontius Pilate—not the Jewish authorities—executed Jesus. In summation, the trial before Ciaphas, the Barabbas episode, the reluctance of Pilate to condemn Jesus, and the Jewish mob demanding his death are, like every other aspect of the Passion and Resurrection narratives, pure fiction. The bare bones of the historical core of what is essentially grand myth is that Jesus was put to death by the Romans—not the Jews—for sedition.

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Anti-Semitism has roots running deep, and Mel’s go back to his father. Although today we do not hold to the moral precept that the son should suffer for the sins of the father, the Ten Commandments insists otherwise: “I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. III. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” Unfortunately for Mel, who claims to believe in all of the good book’s moral principles, his father had lots of doubts about the Holocaust but few doubts about the nefarious actions of the Learned Elders of Zion. Christopher Hitchens has read the Old Man’s anti-Semitic screeds, noting this gem from Hutton’s self-published book The Enemy is Still Here (the sequel to The Enemy is Here, just in case you didn’t get it the first time): “Our ‘civilization’ tolerates open sodomy and condones murder of the unborn, but shrinks in horror from burning incorrigible heretics—essentially a charitable act.” When Pope John Paul II said of the Jews in a conciliatory outreach across the theological divide, “You are our predilect brothers and, in a certain way, one could say our oldest brothers,” Gibson Senior penned this rejoinder: “Abel had an older brother.” Was he suggesting siblicide writ large?

This brings us to the Holocaust, which deniers publicly deny ever happened while privately wishing that it had (as in “Hitler didn’t implement the Holocaust but he should have”). Mel Gibson’s flirtations with Holocaust “revisionism” also stem from the Patriarch Hutton, who expressed his skepticism in a March, 2003 New York Times magazine article as to how the Nazis could have logistically exterminated six million Jews. “Go and ask an undertaker or the guy who operates the crematorium what it takes to get rid of a dead body. It takes one liter of petrol and 20 minutes. Now, six million?” From where did the six million figure come? “The entire catastrophe was manufactured” in a deal between Hitler and “financiers” to move Jews out of the Reich. Hitler “had this deal where he was supposed to make it rough on them so they would all get out and migrate to Israel because they needed people there to fight the Arabs.” Hutton’s wife added parenthetically: “There weren’t even that many Jews in all of Europe.” Hutton punctuated the point: “Anyway, there were more after the war than before.”

Here is what actually happened. In the 1930s the Nazis did try to get rid of the Jews by eliminating their civil liberties, then banning them from professions, then confiscating their property, then rounding them up into ghettos, then locking them up in concentration camps. In the early and successful (for the Nazis) years of the Second World War, the Third Reich grew in size with each territorial conquest, which meant that the number of Jews grew, along with the measures the Nazis were willing to take to reach their ultimate goal, which by 1942 had morphed from elimination to extermination.

To this combustionable cocktail of wrong-headed ideas and evil intent, add three more characteristics to bring Saint Mel into full light: a hot head temper with a hair trigger mouth and a propensity to drink.

This post originally appeared at TRUE/SLANT.

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Rating: 4.6/5 (37 votes cast)
The Passion of Saint Mel (Gibson that is), 4.6 out of 5 based on 37 ratings

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129 Responses to “The Passion of Saint Mel (Gibson that is)”

  1. MadScientist says:

    The strange catholic cult is only part of the story. Gibson doesn’t need religion to be an asshole – he was just born and raised that way. At any rate, I have been avoiding movies with that Jew-hater for years. I loved “Chicken Run” when it was released, but unfortunately it’s now on my list of self-banned films. As for how all other religions will go to hell, that’s still taught by the catholics even if it is no longer official dogma. Many other cults preach the same, including islam.

    • Majority of One says:

      I have been boycotting his movies now too and I used to really like him and his movies. I haven’t seen anything with him in it since “What Women Want” and I can’t remember how long ago that was.

      Also, I happened to be in a Best Buy when “Passion of the Christ” came out and there was a line in the video department so I asked what was going on my salesperson rolled her eyes and said “that Mel Gibson movie is out on video” and I said, “say no more.” We both had a bit of a chuckle…however, it was short-lived when we realized how big a hit it was going to be.

      I really liked Chicken Run, too! What a shame he has gone to batshit crazy, or was he always like that and we just didn’t know?

      • MadScientist says:

        I suspect he was always like that and we didn’t know. You don’t just wake up one day and decide you hate all Jews and that women should be more servile, etc.

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        Not to condone his drunken comments about jews but have you forgotten so quickly how many jews publicly harrassed and defamed Mel after his Passion of the Christ movie? I suspect prior to that he didn’t give much thought at all to Jews. What we saw was really his reaction to what Jews did and said about him.

      • Marc Blackburn says:

        Mel spends millions of his own money to make an epic film smearing the Jews and condemning them of killing his god, and you suspect prior to that he didn’t give much thought at all to Jews???

      • LovleAnjel says:

        So it’s all the Jews fault that he’s anti-semitic? If they had just kept their traps shut he would have never had hateful rants? Please. Gentiles also defamed and harassed him, you don’t hear him ranting about Protestants or Anglicans.

      • MadScientist says:

        Nonsense; Gibson’s been like that long before his tawdry religious movie.

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        Do you really think his movie was intended to “smear the jews”? If so how would you tell the story without mentioning the jews? Seems like you define hypersensitivity. I assume you have at least a moderate understanding of what is in the bible. Do you really believe the stories told in the bible do not “smear” almost everyone including Adam and Eve. It’s the nature of the history that it talks about people and what they did. Why would you or I care what was said about what some people did 2000 years ago or more? What seems more likely is hypersensitive people (like you) jumped on this opportunity to exclaim how bad everyone else is and how “innocent” they and their ancestors are” Oh woe is me…

    • LovleAnjel says:

      It’s worse than that. My grandmother grew up believing that if you went to different Catholic church you would go to hell. Seriously.

      The Lethal Weapon movies are no longer funny to me.

    • Chris Howard says:

      Mad,
      Totally agree. People are good, bad, and indifferent with or with out religion. Mel’s beliefs, probably, act as his rationales for his behavior, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the reason(s) for his behavior.

  2. decius says:

    Michael, that passage by Tacitus has been fiercely disputed for centuries, its authenticity has been reasonably called into question, and it makes for a poor choice of sources, in my opinion.

    Cheers

  3. I agree that it seems Mel’s religion is a little out there (even by religion standards), but it seems to me that the guy probably just suffers from “ridiculously huge star” syndrome. The guy hasn’t had anyone stand up to him or possibly even heard the word “no” in 30 years, that would mess anyone up. Oh, and I would never defend the hate and misogyny in those tapes, but the way his wife acts in them is the squeaky clean behavior of someone who knows they are being recorded. I have a sneaking suspicion that she is nuts too.

    • Marc Blackburn says:

      I’ve heard this argument before and find it twisted. Essentially it condemns someone as being nuts for not showing the symptoms. Of course she knew she was being recorded and Mel didn’t, but how does that change anything? It doesn’t justify the hate, the abuse, the pettiness, none of it. And even if his wife knew how to push Mel’s buttons it still wouldn’t justify it. But she doesn’t even have to do that: she simply shows Mel going off on a tirade with no provocation.

  4. Chris M says:

    decius is right. The reliance on a single disputed quotation from one Roman historian makes for a weak argument indeed. Even if the passage is authentic, how does one infer from Tacitus’s brief mention that Christ was crucified “at the hands of” Pontius Pilate (a detail consistent with the gospel narratives) that the Caiphas, Barabbas, and Jewish mob details are “pure fiction”? They may be, but you can’t construct an argument from silence when Tacitus devotes only half a sentence to the subject of Christ’s execution.

    No one can dispute that anti-Semitism has found many an ally within the church, but that does not render Christianity or the gospel narratives or even theatrical portrayals of them anti-Semitic.

    • Dax says:

      Well, it does say something. If the only potential, relatively contemporary (about half a century later) source can be found in a well disputed piece by Tacitus, that doesn’t fit in well with Tacitus’ other work in structure and style, then it’s only the more likely that the entire “historical Jesus” is fiction, too, including the Jewish mob out to crucify him.

      Granted, I’m no biblical and historical scholar, but I think it is more likely that the entire story is an amalgam of myths and the stories of Jewish rebels who did die in horrific ways by roman hands.

      • Chris M says:

        Dax, Tacititus’s reference is by no means the only source. Nor is it the earliest. Mr. Shermer (whose work I generally appreciate) has just cherry-picked this line. There’s a very robust biblical scholarship surrounding the historical Jesus and early Christianity. Those who deny that Jesus lived and was crucified are the young earth creationist equivalent of that field.

      • JAB says:

        Chris M,

        Not one contemporaneous account of the historical Jesus. Those who believe that Jesus lived ARE young earth creationist.

      • MadScientist says:

        Really? Where is your evidence? What books do we look for to learn about this mythical historical jesus?

      • Dax says:

        Very robust biblical scholarship I have never encountered in my days when I was still interested in researching the claims for a historical Jesus. So, indeed, where is your evidence.

        And since when is thinking that something “is more likely” the same as denial? I doubt the existence of a historical Jesus, yes, and I doubt the gospel based view of a historical Jesus even more (i.e. Jesus as depicted in the gospel when you remove all miracles and other impossibilities). Doubt is however not denial.

  5. EricJ says:

    Do people really need to be reminded that before Christ there was no Christianity and there were no Christians?

    Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that there was no Christianity before Paul? Like you said, Jesus was a Jew until his death. I’ve heard it argued that Paul should be rightly considered the founder of the Christian religion.

  6. I haven’t seen the movie, so I can’t comment on your claim that it has anti-Semitic undertones. Obviously it would be wrong for a skeptic to take your word on something like that.

    But I will say that those Christians who believe salvation requires a conscious and explicit acceptance of Jesus Christ in life can hardly be called “liberal”. Liberal Christians (and I use the term to encompass moderates, by and large) tend to spiritualise what it means to “accept Christ” so that you might accept Christ in your heart while being completely unaware in your mind that you have done so. Variations on this line of thought are commonplace in all but the narrowest of Christian sects.

    • MadScientist says:

      I think it is a mistake to claim “anti-Semitic undertones” – the tone is all some perverse form of anti-Jew ideology. It’s the old “the filthy Jews killed my god” story – just forget the bit about the god being a Jew and the Jews being his favorite people, and of course that little thing about gods being immortal. I remember many stories from the older generation about how horrible the Jews are and how they’ll all go to hell etc for killing a god – many of the people telling the stories probably never met a Jew. It is simply historical fact that it was widespread catholic teaching that the Jews are all condemned god killers; some other jesus cults promulgated that as well. If it sounds like weird shit to you, consider that the vast majority of religious claims are weird shit.

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        Wait a minute! I get it now! You hate Mel Gibson because in your childhood you heard some people say something that offended you. Makes perfect sense. No go look up the word prejudice!!

      • Ben says:

        @GoneWithTheWind

        Seriously?

  7. Archie Pittman says:

    If only the Tokugawas had been around…

  8. Max says:

    What are the odds that Mel Gibson will become a born again Christian?

    • kabol says:

      higher than the odds that he’ll convert to judaism.

      can’t you just see it? move over, madonna — mel gone all kabalah.

  9. How dare anyone mock the Road Warrior!

    Someone told me he’s been using horse steroids to maintain his youthful looks. I strongly recommend not standing behind him.

  10. Hear here:

    Hutton Gibson on Political Cesspool radio program

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5dVWUKJ8b4

  11. Emily says:

    I don’t think a real historical Jesus ever lived, so it seems absurd to argue over who killed a fictional character.

  12. If the Tacitus descroption is true, then perforce that damns Christinsanity from the start! Anyway, Yehua had a silly and dangerous ethic as deist Miklos Jako, notes in ” Confronting Believers.”
    Ithers like Col. Green and Lord Russell alsoobjurgate the cult leader.
    See my thread here J. Christ,jerk in the forums. Skeptic Griggsy

  13. Stephen says:

    South Park’s The Passion of the Jew is a good satire.

  14. Bill Dietrich says:

    Michael, please so some real historical research. Suetonius 69-122 AD, Pliny the Younger 62-113 AD, Josephus 37-100 AD and Tacitus 56-120 AD accounts of Jesus are frauds.

    The problem here is that they were writing history from 80 to 120 AD. So we have no historian writing of J.C. from 30 to 80 AD. This is a major problem. God becomes a man and comes to earth and no one is reporting on this for 50 years. Very strange indeed.

    Yet a bigger problem is that these are known frauds written by the Catholic Church in the 4th century by Eusebius 264-340 AD. We know that Eusebius wrote, “It is an act of virtue to deceive and lie, when by such means the interest of the church might be promoted.” Eusebius was a fraud.

    J.C. was not a real person. He is a myth created by the Catholic Church.

  15. steelsheen11B says:

    Thanks Mel you have finally killed The Road Warrior for me and it’s been my favorite movie since it came out. Why couldn’t you keep your pie hole shut?

    • GoneWithTheWind says:

      The simple reason is alcohol. We have all known people who shouldn’t drink because they become different people when drunk.

      • James Auburn says:

        Right, ’cause that’s what alcohol does: it makes you say things that you really don’t mean.

      • sLUCIDITy says:

        We can’t excuse his behaviour by blaming it on the alcohol. The alcohol is simply exacerbating an inherant mindset. He is a racist piece of filth. The alcohol is the thing that gives us a glimpse into his real nature, cutting off his inhibitions to a level where he actually speaks his mind rather than holding back for appearances.

        And sycophantic apologists are not much better in my opinion.

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        Based on what you said about Mel YOU are a racist piece of shit. I assume you will never understand that. To you it is only others who are wrong or “racist”. What a waste of a human mind.

      • GWTW, how exactly does that make them a racist piece of shit? Is there a new meaning to the word that no one told me about? Why didn’t anyone send me the memo? Man!

    • steelsheen11B says:

      That was an rhetorical question.

  16. Brian The Coyote says:

    Every time I think of Christopher Hitchens’ description of Mel Gibson as an “Austrailian thug and ham actor” from “God is Not Great” I laugh nearly uncontrolably.

  17. Financial Skeptic says:

    I wonder the appropriateness of using Hutton Gibson as the moral compass holds true merit, in general? I have heard the same set of logic used to portray the current President, Barack Obama, as someone who was surrounded by Marxists, and not free-market capitalists, and thus knows nothing else. I’m not sure what to believe, but I’m just making the point that it may be slightly unfair to compare the son to the father when portraying Mel Gibson as a bigoted, religious zealot. His own words should suffice.

  18. big bang says:

    no sympathy for mr. gibson’s ideas here. as for his acting skills or choice of material, after seeing that stupid thing called “signs” with its truly horrendous justification for the random infliction of pain and suffering on the world, well… enough said. but claims that christians (and muslims, of course) look down on other faiths as damned seem to forget the outlook of jews on others too. like someone in this world can really proclaim they are true and pure, and the others, of course, rotten. live and let live. goes for all, and thankfully that’s what most people (whatever their religious denomination – and yes, even muslims!) do in this world. signed: an atheist, thank the gods!

    • GoneWithTheWind says:

      The irony is that all religions look down on other faiths and that includes the atheists. Perhaps it is human nature to believe you are right and everyone who doesn’t agree with you is stupid and unenlightened.

  19. Kel says:

    As others have already said the Tacitus quote doesn’t strengthen the piece. It’s not that the quote is questionable, this is, after all, history… but what a strong conclusion to draw ! I felt for a moment as if you were slipping over into the Dark Side…

    Remember we love you for your objectivity Thanks!

  20. Trimegistus says:

    Why are we supposed to care about Mel Gibson? There are actors who are Scientologists, yet they don’t rate full-length blog posts explaining why they’re idiots. There are actors who are still active Communists, but they don’t get Skeptological entries explaining why that ideology is destructive and discredited.

    But Mel Gibson is a sincere Catholic, so he must be subjected to parlor psychoanalysis, insults, and latter-day McCarthyism.

    As far as I know, Gibson doesn’t claim to perform miracles himself. He gets drunk and mouths off, but that’s hardly unique or significant. What does any of this have to do with skepticism? (Other than providing another example to bash Christianity and make sure that Christians continue to tune out the skeptical message because it assaults their faith head-on, that is.)

    • GoneWithTheWind says:

      He rates a full-length blog post because he is a target. People behind the scenes are trying to discredit him. Admittedly he is helping but if you gave any actor/actress the same kind of exposure to their drunken moments they wouldn’t look good either.

      • LovleAnjel says:

        The Hoff’s still doing pretty well.

      • kabol says:

        Admittedly he is helping but if you gave any actor/actress the same kind of exposure to their drunken moments they wouldn’t look good either.

        like that poor fellow who drove around naked on his little person scooter and p!ssed in a corner of his abode.

        i don’t feel sorry for mel gibson. the dude had the world on a platter.

        sure, he’s a product of his upbringing TO SOME DEGREE as we all are. lots of people have/had parents with unfavorable parenting styles (be it racism, ultra-religious insanity, drug abuse, child abuse or all of these).

        lots of people do not CHOOSE to follow in their parents’ footsteps.

      • sLUCIDITy says:

        “if you gave any actor/actress the same kind of exposure to their drunken moments they wouldn’t look good either.”

        What utter bollocks! I’ve known many alcoholics and have on occasion found myself “under the influence” and never, never have I heard the filth that spewed from this despicable toad in my life. Racist, misogynistic, violent filth from the brain of same.

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        Are we talking about the same statements he made to the cop when he was arrested for drunk driving??? What misogyny?

        Perhaps you are including the latest tapes his ex girlfriend is using to extort millions from him. You may have missed it but experts are now convinced these were pieced together from different sources and none of it is in context. In fact it sounds like acting or reading of lines. Acting! Go figure and actor acting. I’m betting the girlfriend is going to jail and she had professional help making these tapes and that guy is going to jail and I’m betting she had a long time boyfriend who helped her set up Mel and he’s going to jail. What is the penalty for extortion???

      • Ben says:

        “People behind the scenes are trying to discredit him”

        So this is a conspiracy now, is it?

    • I agree with you. Mel Gibson’s version of being a crack pot is no worse than many other Hollywood elites – I suspect there are many who are as big of ‘haters’ even if they’re prejudiced against different groups and clever enough to keep quiet about it. If we’re going to address all of the ugly stupidity that leaks out of the personal lives of famous folks this is going to get boring fast.

      I also wonder about people who will not watch someone’s movies due to their character. I mean, if your entertainers have to pass a character test before you watch their movies, listen to their music or read their books you’ll have to limit yourself Donnie and Marie Osmond (oops. They’re Mormons!)

      Now, I can kind of understand people taking the position “I will not *pay* for his work because I don’t want to financially support people like him.” But they should apply the same standard to their auto mechanic, barber and paper-boy – oh, and companies, too. Wow. That would be a full time job figuring out which people are worthy of our business dollars.

    • JGB says:

      Agreed. If I look skeptically at this issue I have to ask:

      A) Are these greatly publicized words & actions of Mel Gibson truly reflective of his views and attitudes or are they reflections of his mood at that moment? (ie. maybe he doesn’t really hate Jews or his girlfriend’s breasts but those were mere targets for his anger that got noticed. If he were caught telling nun jokes would they say he was a self-hating Catholic?).

      B) Are Mel Gibson’s attitudes significantly greater than the ‘normal’ range of prejudice found in humanity? (If you think you’re not prejudiced then you’re either VERY evolved or in denial. Not all prejudice is equal: a person who says “fag” a lot may not be as bad as one who silently fights gay rights)

      C) Based on the fact that Gibson’s father seems to be antisemitic, and likely raised his son with those attitude should we feel contempt or pity for Mel Gibson?

      • Roger says:

        JGB, I must comment on what you said because I find Mel to be more important than Just Mel Gibson. He went out of his way to defend The Passion, the largest grossing religious movie ever as having no anti-Semitic intentions or implications at all. His impact, audience and adoration is huge. Then along comes his drunken rant, his inhibitions are down, we learn about his own church and statements he has apparently made there while sober. These are clearly not in the “normal range of prejudice found in humanity.” In Mississippi, and my home state Wyoming maybe, but not the entire United States.

        For someone who knows to deny ahead of time his prejudices as wrong I find it wrongheaded to give him a break based on his fathers influence. I have overcome a great deal of my own families prejudice as have millions who clearly did not have the resources at their disposal that Mel had. Yet, as you say I know I carry many prejudices myself and strive to both find and fight them. Except for the Dallas Cowboys and that 1975 Hail Mary pass, some things never die.

      • JGB says:

        Interesting. He made an antisemitic movie which was the largest grossing religious movie of all time and some assert that his racism is out of the normal range. Something doesn’t add up here.

        I do not think his degree of racism is out of the normal range for his generation and cultural background. I agree with those who posted that there are a lot of Christians who share Gibson’s feelings about Jews (and homosexuals and other races) – just their racist words don’t make it on the news. Further, Gibson isn’t even among the worst Christian racists – how many crosses has he burned on lawns? How many synagogues has he bombed? How many abortion clinics has he bombed? How many murdered homosexuals? Has he called for violence against any groups?

        Yes. Mel Gibson is racist but he wasn’t charged with a hate crime – or even hate speech. This dog fight is much, much bigger than Mel Gibson.

        Which is partially why I have the capacity to pity him. He’s stupid and racist but not evil. Pitying someone for stupidity or shortcomings is not the same as giving them a break. I have failed students for sub-par classroom performance while pitying them for the substance abuse problems which largely caused it. Maybe I’m just different. But in Gibson’s case I’m not sure I’m in the position of giving him any sort of break. I’m not on his jury.

        As someone else posted, Mel Gibson is a product of his time/society. He came of age not long after America passed the Civil Rights act. Sure he was in Australia but during Gibson’s formative years overt racism at this level was pretty common in most Western countries. Just as we cut Darwin some slack for his racist views from his era we ought to be understanding of Gibson (and our parents and grandparents).

        Why be understanding? Do they deserve it? Maybe not.

        But being understanding makes us more effective at influencing them than if we are contemptuous. Skeptics need to be less simplistic in life – just as one can pity a student while giving them an ‘F’, one should be able to have compassion for someone who was taught hatred, racism and superstition while rejecting those ideas & attitudes. This capacity is greatly needed among us skeptics because many people suffer from the same problem as Mel Gibson: they were indoctrinated with wrongheaded notions before their reasoning skills were developed enough to scrutinize them. (In fact, many have under-developed reasoning skills BECAUSE of how they were ‘educated’ in their formative years.) We can and should fight the bad thoughts & attitudes without hating the person because it makes us more influential and effective (didn’t Phil Plait talk about not being dicks?).

        Bashing Gibson for being antisemitic – and ‘boycotting’ his movies, too – will not reduce the antisemitic tendencies in Christianity. It’ll more likely discredit the skepticblog in the eyes of Christians. Especially since this whole thread has more than a touch of anti-Christianity to it. Talk about hypocrisy. Righteous indignation is very satisfying but usually not effective at swaying opinions.

        Now that I’ve explain the reasons behind my posting, you can see ‘my dog in this fight’ – I’m trying to ‘balance out’ the more rabid (and Gibsonesque) skeptics on this blog.

      • tmac57 says:

        “C) Based on the fact that Gibson’s father seems to be antisemitic, and likely raised his son with those attitude(sic) should we feel contempt or pity for Mel Gibson?”
        And maybe Mel’s father’s parents were anti semitic, and maybe Mel’s father’s parents,parents were anti semitic, and maybe…people should take responsibility for their own actions and words at some point. I pity the fool who can’t say “I’m sorry,I was wrong,I was a jerk,I accept the consequences for my actions”.

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        I think you conclude he is antisemitic simply because he mentioned a whacky theory. I think you need a lot more then that to conclude someone is “anti” anything.

    • MadScientist says:

      I’d just like to point out that Gibson is not a True Christian – he’s catholic (or claims to be).

    • Max says:

      I’ve seen more coverage of Tom Cruise than of Mel Gibson, but that was then, and Mel is in the news now. Shermer’s post is reproduced from True/Slant, which bills itself as an original content news network, and the topic lends itself to a discussion of religion and Holocaust denial.

      Or it’s all a Jewish conspiracy, eh Trimegistus?

  21. Henry says:

    The amusing case of Saint Mel underscores Christian hypocrisy. His extreme theology, sympathy for Holocaust deniers, womanizing and anti-Semitism were well known prior to The Passion of the Christ, and yet believers flocked to theaters and gobbled up DVDs of the movie. Given the way Christians dismiss critics so easily on the basis of their beliefs or character, shouldn’t they have ignored the movie as “fruit of the poisonous tree”? I guess if something confirms your superstitions, it doesn’t matter where it came from.

  22. Blade Razor says:

    I have always questioned the idea of crucifixion as a means of killing. My childhood Sundays were spent in a church staring at a morbid sculpture of a dead guy hanging from a cross.

    If you have ever hung from a chin-up bar, you know that two nails in the center of your hands cannot support the weight of a human body. There would have to be a support beam at the crotch or there would have to be support under the arms.

    Moreover, crucifixion would have been an extremely laborious way to kill or torture a person to death. The process of building the cross and standing it upright is difficult enough but then nailing a person to it? Chopping the head off requires no construction or heavy lifting.

    But the cross does make for a more compelling story as with all the other fictional biblical passages.

    • DavrosFromSkaro says:

      Are you seriously suggesting that crucifixion as a method of execution never happened?

      The point of crucifixion was that it was slow and painful and sent out a message to other potential miscreants to obey the law or they will end up with the same punishment.

      There is a very interesting/grim article about the subject here:-

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifiction

      • Blade Razor says:

        Indeed crucifixion occurred but not in the manner depicted on the sculpture on the alter of the Churches.

        Two nails in the palms would never support the weight of a body. If you look at these painting and sculpures of the dead Jesus on the cross, it almost appears as if he is levitating on the cross with no respect to the laws of gravity tugging on two stress points. (The foot nail doesn’t count as it would not be a support point.)

        The Wikepedia article does mention these optional means of support but they are not commonly shown in the paintings and statues.

  23. Howard Diogenes says:

    This business about salvation only in (through ) the RCC is so transparently a method of growing and enriching the church, by keeping the “accounts” of members in the organization.

    Indeed, most of Xianity, certainly all of traditional Xianity, is about gathering and hanging on to money and power.

    I once heard a very interesting observation by a priest about the infamous verse “no one comes to the father but through me.” this priest–he had a radio show, did not seem to be hate-filled, like so many of these characters are, and clearly was not a rocket scientist–said, in effect, “I believe it, but maybe the meaning is not so clear. maybe it means that Jesus decides *after you die* whether you get into heaven.” Still self-aggrandizing, but less evil or nutty than the traditional “kiss-my-elbow” understanding of that verse.

  24. PrimeMover says:

    I went to Catholic school as a child and, in about third grade, I asked what a Protestant was, and the nun quickly dismissed the question. Later that year I read some Old Testament, illustrated bible books, which I found fascinating (lots of war and destruction)and showed them to the nuns. Since they were not of Catholic origin she told me “not to read them.”

    In the South, southern Baptists feel that all Catholics are going to hell, and the Catholics, apparently think everyone else is going to hell, all the Jews are doomed, Jehovah witnesses believe that only 144,000 will go to heaven, Mormons are big into “works” which Baptists reject.

    And Mel Gibson rejected his wife of 30 years because she was an Episcopalian? A good person, a saint? I think the skeptics, agnostics, atheists, and “spiritual but not religious” have a message for all people of faith – stop building walls, stop condemining those unlike yourself, stop thinking you have the only truth – that is pure arrogance. God is too big for any one religion and to think he/she/it acts or feels or behaves anything like a human (like the Old Testament God) is insulting to whatever created time and space.

    But he really likes rap and football — and winners.

  25. Bill Dietrich says:

    Tacitus 56-120 AD, Suetonius 69-122 AD, Pliny the Younger 62-113 AD, and Josephus 37-100 AD mention brief accounts of Jesus which are known frauds.

    The problem here is that they were writing history from 80 to 120 AD. So we have no historian writing of J.C. from 30 to 80 AD. This is a major problem. God becomes a man and comes to earth and no one is reporting on this for 50 years. Very strange indeed.

    Yet a bigger problem is that these are known frauds written by the Catholic Church in the 4th century by Eusebius 264-340 AD. We know that Eusebius wrote, “It is an act of virtue to deceive and lie, when by such means the interest of the church might be promoted.”

    J.C. was not a real person. He is a myth created by the Catholic Church, based on older myths that go back thousands of years BC.

  26. Jesus gets his revenge in the end. He bursts unexpectedly out of the sky with blaring trumpets, flying horses and tons and tons of angels to judge the very Romans/Jews he begged God to forgive while hanging on the cross because they did not know what they were doing. Somewhere along the line he changed his mind.
    Romans or Jews what does it matter? According to the Bible it was the Jews who bellowed “Crucify him!”
    The problem is not Gibson. The problem is the book.

    • MadScientist says:

      Gibson is one problem and part of the problem is that he takes a book of fairy tales too seriously.

  27. @Gonewiththewind

    I’m no psychologist, but I’m pretty sure people don’t BECOME racists when they’re drunk. Nor do they become GAY when they’re drunk. Alcohol may be one of the best drugs to reduce inhibitions – but it doesn’t spawn new ones does it?

    Drinking stops people from hiding their behaviors.

    But, Mel may be sober in this telling clip:
    http://www.mediaite.com/online/mel-gibson-asks-jewish-reporter-do-you-have-a-dog-in-this-fight/

    • JGB says:

      Reduced inhibitions make a person more likely to say something which reflects a transitory mood rather than a permanent attitude, too.

      I am not saying that Mel Gibson is completely free of prejudice but, it is unfair to judge his character (and view his work) in terms of antisemitism or misogyny based on a few highly publicized events.

      This brings up a point: Why are we focused on his anti-Jewish statements but not his anti-breast-augmentation-surgery statements? Doesn’t that speak volumes about us?

      • Max says:

        “I am not saying that Mel Gibson is completely free of prejudice”

        You’d have to be blind and/or a bigot yourself to say that.

        “Why are we focused on his anti-Jewish statements but not his anti-breast-augmentation-surgery statements? Doesn’t that speak volumes about us?”

        Uhh, that we have our priorities straight?
        You have a dog in this fight, JGB?

      • It looks obvious that he was joking with that breast comment – you really didn’t see that? Interesting.

        I notice that you took his statements out of context – you only quoted part of a sentence. Tsk tsk. His comment about not saying he’s not prejudiced was a precursor to saying that we’re judging someone by a few selected events and that judgment may not be accurate. That is how creationists’ trick.

        It looks to me like you’re the one with some personal investment in this and JGB looks like he’s wondering why people like you are so invested.

      • Max says:

        No, JGB wasn’t joking. See his comment above.
        “maybe he doesn’t really hate Jews or his girlfriend’s breasts but those were mere targets for his anger that got noticed.”

        I’m not saying that you’re absolutely wrong, but…

      • JGB says:

        Yes. I was joking.

      • JGB says:

        Also, read my (lengthy) post explaining myself views in more detail – and I tried to omit jokes since those tend to confuse some folks.

    • GoneWithTheWind says:

      Some people are really shitty drunks. They say things they don’t mean and do things they would never do sober. What Mel did was repeat a very common belief that probably every adult has heard. That is NOT the same thing as believing it or as being racist. He merely engaged his mouth and not his mind. It wa smore like tourettes then racism.

      • Dude, no. After 15 years in advertising, believe me when I say this, I have a lot of hate, bitterness and frustration toward several individuals, companies and organisations. I’m a happy drunk but should anyone push start the topic, I’ll snowball towards a downward spiral of mouth frothing frothing abuse. Put me in a room with other drunk ad agency artists and we’d have a bubble party with the amount of froth we’d produce. Quite funny though.

        So, is Mel a racist? Well, considering his actions whilst intoxicated, yes, I’d have to say he is. He’s a looney. I love the character portrayed by him as the Road Warrior. I love the fact they shot the first movie virtually in my backyard (seriously). Unfortunately, he’s a douche nozzle in real life.

  28. Pamela Butts says:

    I agree that anti-semitism was taught early on in the Catholic Church. However, that teaching was frowned upon after Vatican II which Mel Gibson does not accept. If there will ever be peace in the world, the religions of the world must stop accepting man-made disputes and realize that they are believe in an omnipotent God.
    Also, Jesus was referred to as “rabbi” because he was an avid teacher of the Jewish faith which he was raised in.

  29. Roger says:

    I always wondered why his movies made the British bad guys, not that it bothered me as an Irishman until seeing the Passion. In the Patriot the French (Catholic) officer was a good good guy and not the heathen Brits. In Brave Heart he is married in a secret Catholic ceremony and again a Catholic French princess is shown as good while the English who rejected the “Church” are evil. It all fell into place, even his false view of the Mayan culture with that shadow of the cross in the end, the image that really brought the sickness and disease to these shores.
    But nobody expects the Australian Inquisition.

    • If he thinks Mayans are Christians, then shouldn’t he be a Mormon?

    • GoneWithTheWind says:

      I think you are over analyzing this. You watched the Patriot and saw French catholics and whatever you ascribe to the bad British guys. Everyone else watched the Patriot and thought of it as one depiction of history. By the way your Irish view of the british makes you a racist.

  30. Moochie says:

    I think the less said of Messrs Gibson (the elder), and Gibson (the younger), the better. After all, who are these people? The younger’s success in the movie industry not withstanding, their pontifications upon anything at all carry no more weight that my dear lamented feline companion’s meow, and I know whom I believe when it comes to matters of fact.

    • tmac57 says:

      What famous people say shouldn’t have disproportionate weight based solely on their fame,but unfortunately,that does not seem to be true in our society.It is exceedingly important that whenever a high profile person takes a stance that flies in the face of humanistic values,that people who object speak out. Just ignoring it could be construed as condoning it.Why do you think that famous people routinely have to go, hat in hand, to the media to do damage control to their careers? Just like a smart mouth kid who spouts off at his parents, sometimes the high and mighty need to be sent to their rooms.

  31. danake says:

    Why “blame” the Jews for Jesus’ death. Shouldn’t they get “credit”. After all it was all part of His plan. More like they were complicit in His suicide. Besides I liked Apocalypto and Edge Of Darkness. Who cares what the drunk says or believes.

  32. Ian says:

    I don’t understand why you would boycott his movies because you don’t agree with his racist and sexist rants. He’s already made lots of money from the films and I for one have no problem putting Chicken Run back in the DVD player despite his voice being on it. HG Wells was a racist and eugenecist and although I hate his opinions I still like a lot of his writing. I know Wells was of his age but so is Gibson in that his ridiculous views are unfortunately shared by a lot of people.

    • Max says:

      If you already own the DVD, you can watch it all you want. It won’t make Mel any richer.
      Paramount Pictures severed their 14-year relationship with Tom Cruise several years ago, claiming that his erratic behavior hurt ticket sales.

      • So we’ve decided that it is OK to watch Mel Gibson movies – provided they were purchased before his prejudice came to light.

        Let us all hope that other racists and bigots are better at concealing their hatred so we can continue to enjoy their work

      • Max says:

        If one wants to boycott an actor, it’s not OK to pay for anything starring that actor, but it’s OK to watch any movie that was already purchased.

      • Interesting opinion.

        I just figure it’s OK for people to do whatever they want until they start significantly interfering with what others want to do.

        This means that it is OK for people like priests, cult leaders and social activists to try to convince people that their personal preferences are rules of morality.

        It also means it’s OK for people like me to mock sanctimony, hypocrisy and misguided social activism wherever I find it.

        BTW: don’t read anything by Tolstoy or Dostoevsky (they were bigger anti-semites than Gibson)… unless you already own the books ;)

      • Max says:

        Dostoyevsky has been dead for over 100 years, so his works are probably in the public domain, and what makes you think that Tolstoy was an anti-semite?
        Solzhenitsyn was an anti-semite who also had defenders. An article in Reason even started off by comparing him with Mel Gibson.

      • Scholars tell me that Tolstoy was an anti-Semite.
        But don’t worry – I was making a point in a semi-mocking way and I now realize that A) you are sincere in what you write (and the degree in which you express it) and joking with you doesn’t help.

        In case you wonder: my point was boycotting Mel Gibson’s movies and writing internet screed against him may be satisfying but it’s ineffective. Angry words will never melt someone’s heart.

  33. NightHiker says:

    As some stated, the evidence for the existence of a real, historical Jesus Christ is tenuous at best. I like the works of Robert Trivers on the matter. The further problem is that even if there was one specific person named Jesus that originated the tales, the accounts are so all over the place that it becomes moot: whoever this historical Jesus might be, he certainly is not the Jesus of the records, even taking out all the supernatural accounts. It’s like saying Dracula is a historical figure just because it was inspired in the historical Vlad Tepes.

  34. Kevin says:

    Mad Scientist: “I’d just like to point out that Gibson is not a True Christian – he’s catholic (or claims to be).”

    That is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read…..

    So are you saying Christianity is a relatively new religion founded by whom, then Martin Luther?

    Of course Roman Catholics are Christians, my gosh, I can’t believe people sometimes….

  35. Kevin says:

    Prime Mover: “In the South, southern Baptists feel that all Catholics are going to hell, and the Catholics, apparently think everyone else is going to hell, all the Jews are doomed, Jehovah witnesses believe that only 144,000 will go to heaven, Mormons are big into “works” which Baptists reject.”

    Again, this is wrong. It is officially from the mouth of Pope John Paul II that Muslims, Jews, and Christians (of all denominations) are brethren and all worship the same God (Abraham’s God). So it would seem that Catholics do not believe that everybody is going to hell.
    This forum I thought would be a little more rational and objective.

  36. Grinspoon says:

    I really expected better than this sort of slander piece on here.

    Does anyone know anyone who walked away from watching The Passion of The Christ thinking less of Jewish people?

    Mel Gibson has his problems, no denying that. However seriously The Passion was not a film about anti-Semitism or anything of the sort. The romans were the bastards and the cruel ones in it. Not the jewish people. I was actually surprised by the film, because i had heard all the claims of “anti-Semitism” which seemed unfounded when I watched the film.

    Seriously.. what Christians can’t make films about jesus with out changing of the story? I’d love to know how many people that rattle on about how the film is all about slamming jewish people and promoting anti-semitism have actually seen the film, or didn’t watch it already with these pre-conceived notions and opinions.

    Seriously so any film where anyone of any race that isn’t good, must all be planned effort to undermine them.

    The campaign against Mel started well before the film, people can see what they want. People don’t like him, don’t like religion and this was the best angle they found.

    The whole mel ranting to the cops tape, lets just point out. We don’t really know what was said, what provoked him. The cop was reprimanded. It did happened after constant attacks on mel calling him anti-semetic, like the piece above. It also was while woman and children in lebanon were being bombed by Israel. So if the cop said something to him about the passion it easily could have set any drunk person in his situation asking if the guy was jewish. And the jewish home land had just started a war. There’s always a context. To assume the worst with out all the facts and ignoring alternatives and contexts isn’t very rational.

    I don’t know if mels anti-semeitic or not. I don’t care. There’s some stuff which is well, bad sounding but inconclusive. In the end does it matter? Attacking him for his religious beliefs. Well where’s all that on the other side. It’s not as if The Jewish faith doesn’t have all sorts of stupid nonsense as well about being better than others ect as well. Sons of whoever are one branch of humanity who are good, sons of the other are bad ect.

    Just seems to be so much of, Oh Mel is horrible going again. This whole thing is not rational or objective. Clearly has an agenda to push. I don’t know why, but the article is just a crap hatchet job.

    Yes we have to hate Mel Gibson, we get it. Doesn’t mean we buy it.

    • Max says:

      Michael Shermer gave you the context: that Mel’s father is a rabid anti-semite and a Holocaust denier, and that “Saint Mel’s filmic opus, The Passion of the Christ, was one long argument for the justification of two millennia of anti-Semitism: the Jews killed our Lord.” You ignore or deny that context.

      “The cop was reprimanded.”
      The cop was investigated and cleared of leaking the report to TMZ. He had been forced to “sanitize” his report, taking out Mel’s Jew-bashing rant. And you think this somehow clears Mel?

      “And the jewish home land had just started a war.”
      It wasn’t Hezbollah that started the war with an unprovoked attack, it was the Jews. They start all wars.

      “I don’t know if mels anti-semeitic or not. I don’t care.”
      That says more about you than about Mel.

      “Well where’s all that on the other side.”
      Name that logical fallacy.

      Deny, distract, blame the victims. Same BS as with the Catholic sex abuse scandal. “We don’t really know who who did what.” “Pedophilia is a problem in any community.” “Why is everyone so focused on this and not on that other thing over there?” Bullshit!

      • Max,

        I am sorry I mocked you. I had thought that your posts were intentional hyperbole and ranting just to stir things up. After re-reading your comments, I now believe you are sincere in your words and your passion is genuine. If I had interpreted your words that way earlier I wouldn’t have poked fun at you.

        I agree with you that racism is very bad – and it’s cousin ‘tribalism’ has caused much of the world suffering (through action and inaction) – so we must do something about it.

        But I don’t agree with your vitriol and sanctimony because they don’t make anything better. Hating a hater won’t stop the hate. And for my part, poking fun at a hater won’t stop the hate either. As a previous post said we need to be understanding of each other if we are going to improve things.

        So, here we are: Mel Gibson and many Christians are antisemtic (and bigoted against other groups like Muslims and Homosexuals) – how can we change that? I don’t think Blog rants and boycotting 20-year old movies will make a detectable difference. If we want to do something which actually makes a difference what should we do?

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        You still don’t get it!! Reread your statement “many Christians are antisemtic (and bigoted against other groups like Muslims and Homosexuals)” What you have just expressed is not different in form or substance from what Mel expressed. You were careful to unload your hate on Christians, the only group left that you can hate and not be considered a racist. And you included your concern for “homosexuals” the group that no one can ever talk about as though they were untouchable. Either intentionally or subconciously you included all the right things in you expression of hate and bigotry!!! The only difference between you and Mel is you weren’t drunk. Where you???

      • Oh, I get it. Perhaps you should re-read my words about the universality of prejudice and how do we make things better?

        Let us start in kindergarten: I do not hate my Mom, Dad, siblings, wife and my son even though I see that they all have some racist & bigoted tendencies (which are a product of their society). I see some tendencies in me, too. I love them (and me) even though they are imperfect.

        Likewise, I can see racist and bigoted tendencies among Christians but not just them, there’s racism in all human ‘tribes’. This is why the problem is bigger than Mel and anti-semitism. In fact, I see the ‘us v them’ reflex getting stronger and more violent with better weapons.

        It is a widespread problem of tribalism (e.g. our skeptical attacks on one another – accusing each other of hate – I’m guilty, too) Pretending that one group doesn’t have prejudice is silly but attacking and hating people for having this is counter-productive. Making each other ‘offenders for a word’ is counter productive.
        So once again, I extend this challenge to any and all who read this:

        Racism & prejudice are problems which have beset humans since the beginning – how do we solve these problems before they lead to us exterminating ourselves?

      • If you don’t like me pointing out short-comings of groups, please don’t call me anti-Christian, anti-Jew, or a misogynist – call me a misanthrope!

  37. Flern says:

    “where did the six million figure come”

    Where the six million figure came from is an interesting question. It predates WWII in various claims of Jewish victimhood, it continues to be cited even after the official death toll at Auschwitz was revised downward by 3 million.

    Professor Martin Broszat, who knows far more about this subject than you do, has stated 6 million is a “symbolical figure”, not “a factual one”.

    • Max says:

      From the Nizkor Project:
      “Few (if any) historians ever believed the Auschwitz State Museum’s four million figure, having arrived at their own estimates independently. The museum’s inflated figures were never part of the estimated five to six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, so there is no need to revise this figure.”

      That’s strike one.

  38. Flern says:

    “Few (if any) historians ever believed the Auschwitz State Museum’s four million figure”

    Because they recognized the figure as Communist propaganda. Communist propagandists were citing the 6 million figure before the end of WWII, so it makes sense to question it as well.

    “the estimated five to six million Jews”

    Shermer condemns Gibson’s father for questioning the 6 million figure, even though historians question it as well.

    • Max says:

      “Hutton punctuated the point: ‘Anyway, there were more after the war than before.’”
      Which historians did he get that from?

      • Flern says:

        It’s funny how you fail to address any specific points.

      • Max says:

        Your point was that historians question the death toll the same way that Gibson’s father did.
        Gibson’s father said there were more Jews after the war than before, which is Holocaust denying bullshit.
        Care to address this point?

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        No one knows how many jews were killed in death camps. Some historians recognize that many many non-jews were killed as well and somehow the tally just got rolled up under one heading. Hitler didn’t just hate the Jews. Many people get accused of being a holocaust denier simply because they state these obvious fact when in fact they agree the holocaust happened. The total killed by WW II in the European theater exceeds 50 million. That was the cost to stop that war because leaders and diplomats failed to do their job.

      • Max says:

        Gibson’s father was a plain ol’ Holocaust denier.

  39. Flern says:

    My point was historians question the 6 million figure, yet Shermer condemns Hutton Gibson for doing so. The origin of the 6 million figure is an interesting question, since it predates WWII, and yet Shermer condemns Hutton for wondering about it. Shermer is either historically ignorant, or being wilfully unfair to Hutton Gibson.

    • Max says:

      And my point was that Hutton’s claim that there were more Jews after the war than before came from Holocaust deniers rather than any serious historians. It’s probably the World Almanac Gambit.

      • I wonder if the Jewish Holocaust is the only one that Hutton denies. In the last 100 years there were genocides in Turkey, Cambodia, Rwanda, Ukraine and Nanking. Maybe if we started driving home the point that there were multiple genocides in the 20th century, people would understand that this is bigger than antisemitism and that we have a serious problem here – one that poses a threat to humanity’s survival.

        Not only were Jews not the only victims but most genocides were not perpetrated by Christians. Opposing all genocides shows we’re not anti-Christian. We just think that killing hundreds of thousands of people is wrong and we need more people to get onboard with this idea.

      • Max says:

        He’d probably find some way to blame other genocides on Jews, since they start all wars.

      • Bad Boy Scientist says:

        The problem’s bigger than one man. It’s all of us: we’re too quick to think others hate us and maybe that’s why it’s so easy to hate them. If skeptics can’t reason through this without accusing everyone else of hatred, what hope is there for humanity in general?

        I wonder if a species worth calling ‘sapient’ will ever evolve.

  40. Kevin says:

    Mel’s a star, so it’s inevitable that he’s become a lightning rod for righteous indignation over anti-Semitism. Great! Remind me to thank him sometime because if it wasn’t for idiots like him, we who live in an easy time, far away and sometime hence of the horror, just might forget what terror a genocide really is. Few of us can even imagine what it is like to be hunted down. Mel begs us to re-investigate what xenophobia really means, it’s advantages and disadvantages and thankfully, nearly all of us, even a lot of the conservatives, come out on the side of good…so while Mel doesn’t fare so well on the Pesola’s of Decency, he does help the rest of us to do so.

    Now, that said, let’s not forget that pesky ‘banality of evil’ thing. That’s where the ordinary actions of ordinary citizens can lead to unspeakable horror. Some apologists out there call Mel’s rants ‘free speech’…technically perhaps, but seriously, do we tolerate the intolerant? Should we tolerate the intolerant? Where does that always seem to lead us? Carefully vetted limits are to be scorned, but may be handy none the less if a properly constructed legal clause can be shown to prevent HATE. I’d vote for it, i admit.

    Also, you math whizzes with your numbers…news flash…ONE Jew was too many. WTF? It’s not a numbers game…don’t you get that? 6 million or 2 million or 42,569 or a bakers dozen…whatever…it’s a freakin’ genocide. Genocides are bad, and we can do more to prevent them…end of story.

  41. Can’t we all just agree that Mariah Carrey should never be allowed to make another CD?

  42. David says:

    The followers of the zombie they call Jesus are one strange bunch.

  43. Anita Ikonen says:

    A religious doctrine can not be undermined by one of its public practitioners having, as you say, “a hot head temper with a hair trigger mouth and a propensity to drink”, but rather beliefs such as Catholicism and antisemitism fall on their own by their innate fallibilities.

    It is, as childrens welfare activist Sean Faircloths TAM8 topic where he emphasized the need for secularism (to keep religion out of politics) by pointing to the many flaws in Catholicism and Christian practice leading to things such as child neglect as devout parents refuse to take their children to hospital care choosing to pray for their cures instead, or the many cases of tolerance of pedophilia found within Catholicism.

    But what struck me in Faircloth’s talk was that he mainly emphasized on one isolated case in which an Amelia White died as the result of being forgotten out in a hot van right outside her Christian daycare center.

    Using such an isolated and obviously unintentional accident as that of Amelia White, in an attempt to disqualify the fundamental beliefs of associated persons or organizations, comes across as just a tacky attack something similar to what is seen in political campaigns.

    Point being, that even an Atheist daycare center could have accidentally forgotten a child, without it being anywhere capable of damaging the fundamental ideologies of Atheism. Similarly, the personality or drinking habits or Mr. Gibson offer nothing against the evaluation of doctrines such as Catholicism or antisemitism which fall alone, and especially since their opposites perhaps skepticism and human rights movements would not falter if one or a few of its members were to have “a hot head temper with a hair trigger mouth and a propensity to drink”.

    • Max says:

      Inductive generalizations don’t have to be hasty generalizations.
      When there’s sufficient evidence to make a generalization, we can view new evidence in the context of that generalization, and use it to refine the generalization.
      The case of Mel Gibson is just a data point to add to the Spanish Inquisition, the blood libel, Father Coughlin’s broadcasts, etc.

      • Anita Ikonen says:

        I disagree that Mr. Gibson’s drinking habits or personal life would have anything to do with discrediting the religious doctrine to which he belongs, whether he has claimed to be a representative of his religious beliefs or not or been awarded that responsibility. Such behavior would disqualify him as a representative and detach him from any accountability against his religion, especially since such behavior is not an intended characteristic of the practice of his religion.

        I am reminded of how a generous majority of more than half of all the skeptical engagements I hear of happen to be something along the lines of “Drinking Skeptically”, or “Skeptics at the Pub”, and so if alcohol consumption or vulgar outrageous behavior were the principle by which to discredit belief systems, then Skepticism as a movement would be down the drain long time ago.

        With an abundance of good cases against Christianity such as the Spanish Inquisition, why reduce the skeptical atheist enlightenment campaign into petty bickering based on personal attack and ridicule of individual members, when the very same could easily be turned against the skeptics and probably more so.

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