Friday, June 26, 2009

Double Standard

It was an interesting day on Thursday, June 25, 2009. This is the day that the famous actor Farrah Fawcett passed away from cancer after a long, much publicized battle. The death was somewhat expected. We had been hearing some time about her health problems, and that the prognosis was not good. It is quite sad to hear she has passed.

But the news that really got my attention yesterday was the death of another famous person, a man who defined a generation of music, that being Michael Jackson.

Personally, I loved listening to his music. He had a really good sound, especially his stuff from the 1980s (I admit not knowing anything recent of his regarding music, if there way any).

But there is a problem. People tend to look at him as a king, or even a god here on earth. His music was good, but putting that aside for a moment, take a look at his life. The plastic surgery aside, who considers it acceptable to bring 13 year old boys into his Neverland ranch to have sleepovers? This is a grown man, but his psychological problems of not having a childhood should not allow him to exhibit many of the behaviors that he showed. Yet, despite this action, which is inexcusable, people are flocking to show support and sympathy for him. True, we should, but during his entire life, many people looked the other way regarding his actions, and nobody held him accountable.

Now we look at the current situation in the Catholic Church. There have been digressions of some of our clergy. A very small percentage of priests were accused, and charged with similar acts. There is a call (and rightly so) to shore up child protection policies within the Church to make sure that it doesn't happen again. So, why is it that it is so acceptable for Michael Jackson that throngs of supporters shower him with love and tears over the news of his death, yet a priest is spit on, mocked, and people, for Halloween dress up as priests with dolls doing unspeakable things? Shouldn't the same standard be held by Michael Jackson, and all the other entertainers out there?

If I were to go as Michael Jackson for Halloween and do things the people who go as priests do, how many comments will I get, saying it is inappropriate and wrong, and that I should change? How many will the dressed up "priest" get? I will be willing to bet that he won't get any comments. People like Michael Jackson should be treated with the same tenacity as others.

I can see a couple of reasons why many turn the blind eye. The first is that he is black, or at least, he was black. I am not a racist; one of my best friends is black. For many in the black community, he was one of them. Its great for people to look up to stars like Jackson and emulate them. But for Jackson, it came to the point that his avid listeners turned a blind eye and lacked discernment about the man off the stage. This is why even when he was formally charged with molesting a boy and he went to court five years ago for it, thousands of fans lined the streets in support of Jackson, and they attested to his innocence. If there was true discernment there, people would have seen there was something wrong with his actions. If I was an avid fan of Jackson, I would have expected better from him when he was offstage, setting a positive example for the community, not having sleepovers with young boys, something totally and absolutely inappropriate.

The second is that he was an entertainer. Somehow, entertainers seem to get the benefit of the doubt in most circumstances, whereas everybody else gets the guilty stare. If Michael Jackson were to molest a child, everybody would be supportive of him, but if a priest was accused of doing that, he would be cursed at, spit on, and assaulted as he made his way to the courtroom.

Now someone might say:"we expect more of priests." Well, we should, but just because we expect more of priests doesn't mean that everybody gets a free ticket, a free pass. If we start labeling certain groups as groups from which we expect more, isn't that a dangerous road of sectarian discrimination?

This brings me to another point. In the United States, Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice. Every race, religion, sexual orientation etc., is accepted and society opens their arms to them for a big hug. But not for Catholics. This double standard plays into that. Because of the prejudice against the Church, and the way society puts celebrities on pedastools, there is, in essence, a different set of laws that pertain to each group. For the big names in Hollywood, there is a level of acceptance which is different, and higher, than members of the clergy regarding promiscuity. Now, I am not advocating that the tolerance level for priests should go up to what Hollywood is, but the opposite.

We need to hold Hollywood accountable for what they do. We need to hold the Michael Jacksons, the Lindsay Lohans, and all the other big name celebrities who give themselves a bad name, while being a role model to children, responsible and accountable for what they do.

God bless you, and may you have a blessed weekend.

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