The Shylock Code

Before I get started here, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the Jewish faith. No members of my family are known to be Jews. Okay, so some of my best friends are Jews, but whattaya want? I'm in the liberal media biz, and you know who's in charge here. Call it a matter of professional development. But me, I'm a holy card-carrying, Blessed Mother-lovin' member of the Church of Rome.

My opening declaration is necessitated by the subject of this treatise: the fallout from the meltdown of Mel Gibson, Traditionalist Catholic, and his drunken tirade against the "f#@*ing Jews." I feel for Mr. Gibson, I really do; as a recovering alcoholic myself, I know too well the shame the drunk so easily brings upon herself when the tongue is loosened and the fists unleashed by the fruit of the vine, brewery, and/or distillery. And I know firsthand the pain inflicted on earnest Catholics at the hands of dismissive Jews: When I was in the 10th grade, I was dating a really cool guy named Mark Weiss until his mother got in the middle of it on account of my religion. How do ya like them apples?

But to those who contend that Mel really didn't mean what he said while under the influence, my personal experience suggests otherwise. For instance, when I was drunk, if you said something against my family, I would have just decked you. (There's at least one sucker-punched guy in Jersey who can attest to this fact.) Now that I'm sober, if you say something against my family, I will want to deck you but, instead, I'll just verbally threaten you. Or, I'll count to 10, go home and come back with my four brothers. The sentiment is consistent even if the actions differ.

In the case of Gibson, let's examine the words of drunk Mel alongside those of (presumably) non-drunk Mel:

  • Drunk Mel (to Malibu deputy sheriff, July 2006): "F#@*ing Jews...The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?"

  • Non-drunk Mel (to New Yorker writer Peter Boyer, September 2003): "[M]odern secular Judaism wants to blame the Holocaust on the Catholic Church. And it's a lie. And it's revisionism. And they've been working on that one for a while.”

    I say, Mel, just own your rage, brother. The sentiments here are hardly very distinct. Why not stand up for your beliefs? And that goes for the rest of those right-wing Catholics and Protestants who have resorted to some tortured code to assert their true feelings about the Jewish people. I call it the Shylock code.

    Take, for example, these words from a statement by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights:

    Unfortunately, [Gibson's] apology is being rejected by some who should know better. To wit: Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, has branded Gibson's apology "unremorseful and insufficient."... Mel's enemies will never cut him a break. Their real goal is to discredit The Passion of the Christ, and that is why their propaganda machine is in full gear....How ironic it is to note that the core message of his film -- forgiveness -- is sorely lacking in his critics.

    C'mon now, Bill, out with it! Just say what you mean: Like Foxman, Mel's critics are likely Jews who have set "their propaganda machine" (Hollywood? The mainstream media?) into gear in order to discredit a film that you and Gibson believe to accurately dramatize the sacred literature and history of Christianity. The message, as you see it, of The Passion of the Christ is one of forgiveness, because that is the central tenet of the Christian faith: that Christ died so that all sins might be forgiven. Foxman's problem is that he's not a Christian. Otherwise, he would be more forgiving -- the way you were, when you went on the new Opie & Anthony radio show, despite the "anti-Catholic stunt" that got them thrown off the air in the first place. (A selfless, forgiving act, indeed, if one that got you free airtime before millions of listeners.)

    Or take this one, from the Rev. Jesse Lee Paterson, author of Scam: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America, who has earned the Heritage Foundation seal of approval:

    Now there appears to be an orchestrated campaign by some Hollywood insiders and media to personally destroy Gibson...These same people opposed Gibson's blockbuster The Passion of the Christ which despite opposition from liberals was a huge hit among audiences. These "smear merchants" are using this incident to get back at Gibson.

    Those not in the know might easily miss the intent of the good reverend's message, so allow me to crack the code for you. Here's an abbrieviated Shylock code glossary:

    Hollywood insiders -- Jews

    some media -- Jews

    liberals -- Jews

    "smear merchants" -- "f#@*ing Jews"

    (NOTE: Other commerce-related code -- "retailers," "department stores;" see "War on Christmas")

    Which brings me back to my opening disclaimer. For reasons that remain a mystery to me, I once had the experience of having the code deployed against me, leaving the impression that I am a "leftist writer," possibly of Jewish origin. (Perish the thought!) Those in the know are aware that "leftist" equals socialist or communist, and you know who those folks are. Me, I'm a simple, mild-mannered liberal Catholic with an Ellis Island-style last name. (In the old country, it was Stackiewicz.) Just want to set the record straight.

    So, to Mel, Bill and Jesse, I say, why all the dancing around? Why go crypto in a free country? As they often say in Alcoholics Anonymous, "To thine own self be true."

    Adele M. Stan is the author of the weblog,, and the book, Debating Sexual Correctness.

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