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David Bowie, Icon or Abuser?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
When David Bowie died after a very private fight with liver cancer, obituary writers churned out words like "icon" and "legend" and "subversive." Despite a life of very fluid explorations of musicality and sexuality and spirituality, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano celebrated Bowie as "never banal," displaying an "artistic rigor" which seemed to contradict the sexually "ambiguous image" he presented to "attract the attention of the media."

This star-struck eulogy ignored Bowie's 2013 album "The Next Day." His "artistic rigor" included a nasty anti-Catholic video, starring actor Gary Oldman as an angry priest. It begins with this priest punching a begging teenage boy in the face. He enters what appears to be a nightclub for priests (and a cardinal) who glance lasciviously at half-dressed women. Bowie "sings" (in this case, unmusically growls) "And the priest stiff in hate now demanding fun begin / Of his women dressed as men for the pleasure of that priest." He offers only cynicism toward these set-apart, celibate men: "They can work with Satan while they dress like the saints / They know God exists for the devil told them so."

For Crisis magazine, Father George Rutler added that this unofficial Vatican paper also celebrated the artistry of the notorious child-abuser Michael Jackson: "Everybody knows his problems with the law after the pedophilia accusations. But no accusation, however serious or shameful, is enough to tarnish his myth among his millions of fans throughout the entire world."

In the same vein, they (and everyone in the major media) also ignored new reports surfacing just in the last two months that Bowie deflowered a 15-year-old groupie named Lori Mattix (and then brought in her 15-year-old gal pal Sable Starr to make it a threesome). Mattix said it was consensual: "I remember him looking like God and having me over a table. Who wouldn't want to lose their virginity to David Bowie?"

But at 15, in California, it was statutory rape. In her story, she went from Bowie directly to "dating" Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.

Bowie was never pressed to defend himself or deny the story. But it adds to the litany of famous male entertainers who've exploited underage girls with their celebrity, from Roman Polanski to Bill Cosby to Woody Allen. While the secular news industry in New York and the social justice warriors in Hollywood pour outrage all over the predatory Catholic priests who abused children in this same era of sex and drugs and "revolution," the rockers and the filmmakers plowed their way through a polyester playground of high-school groupies exploiting their "star privilege."

Not every allegation -- even happy boasts of being sky-high and "special" and deflowered at 15 -- is true. But in our media culture, the sexual abuse of children is only offensive when undertaken by hypocritical men who have violated a vow of chastity and try to impose ancient commandments on their followers. Only allegations against priests are so offensive that they are reported even when the evidence is slight, and even when the accused is deceased.

David Bowie died to universal acclaim, even from a star-struck Vatican newspaper. No one's obituary would deviate from the celebration an art-rock "icon" can expect.

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