Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts

NCIS Toes the Pro-Gay, Anti-Catholic Line

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 24, 2015

I’m a big fan of NCIS, the most-watched television show in the United States last season. It was also voted America’s favorite show in 2011. It has spawned two popular spinoffs, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. As a card-carrying contrarian, I’m not proud of my attraction to this popular program. But neither am I going to give up my “What would Gibbs do?” kitchen apron.

Sadly, as Gene Pitney once sang, true love never runs smooth—though it shames a contrarian to say so. (Bobby Vinton: “There, I’ve said it again.”)

But enough references to pop culture, for all is not well in NCIS-land. In episode 13 of season 12 (“We Build, We Fight”), first aired on February 3rd, the series took on the subject of gays in the military, determined to do right by them. A murdered male marine, “married” to a male police officer (who refers to the dead man as “my husband” often enough to make one wonder if he knew his name), is in danger of having his memory tarnished. He had been recommended for the medal of honor, but the circumstances of his death suggest the posthumous conferral of the award might bring discredit on the Marine Corps.

It is up to Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and his team to make sure the gay soldier’s nobility is not tarnished. Well, nobody said NCIS is unpredictable.

But just to turn the prejudicial screws a little tighter, opposition to the proposed Medal of Honor is ultimately traced back to an admiral under whom the dead man served, and who consistently gave the most dangerous, life-threatening missions to the gay men in his command. The admiral’s name is—wait for it—Xavier Meade.

Of course it is. “Xavier” is probably the only first name which demands that we tag its owner as a Roman Catholic.

Dominant Propaganda

There have been countless examples of popular television shows and movies deliberately written to advance the new normal—that is, to try to get everybody comfortable with the latest evil our cultural elites wish to have broadly recognized as good. Especially in sexual matters, we have lived through this cycle repeatedly for nearly a century.

Pre-marital sex, adultery, divorce, contraception, abortion, in vitro fertilization, homosexuality: All, one after the other, have been worked into our modern comedies and dramas until we no longer stop and ask ourselves: What is this glorifying? The same has been true of euthanasia and suicide. If the literati and the glitterati are ready to move on to the next departure from the natural law, the media moguls rush to portray it, first, as an agonizing problem for highly sympathetic characters; second, as perfectly normal; and third, as fundamentally right and good.

The corollary, of course, is always that those who oppose behaviors contrary to the natural law are themselves evil, usually twisted by religion (which is never regarded as a source of truth), and in any case stern, bigoted, unsympathetic and perversely wrong-headed. The moral of the story is that such people are the logical cause of all the problems attendant upon these behaviors. They must be removed from positions of responsibility, marginalized, and—as may serve the purpose—punished through fines or imprisonment. Exit Admiral Xavier Meade.

Faulty Psychology

But what this NCIS episode really demonstrates is that the psychology behind its smear campaign is all wrong. I grant that most people have insufficient experience (or clarity of thought) to recognize that it is wrong, but it is still incorrect and even backwards.

Let us look more closely at the nefarious Xavier Meade. Now, if he were a lapsed or lukewarm Catholic, his general attitudes and values would be derived primarily from the dominant secular culture. This has been demonstrated again and again in polls. Catholic conviction and behavior tracks very closely to frequency of reception of the sacraments, particularly Mass attendance and Confession.

In other words, if Admiral Xavier Meade’s Catholicism is nominal, it would be decidedly unlikely that he would allow Catholic teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual acts to substantially affect his attitude toward gay soldiers under his command. The Admiral would not really care what the Church teaches on this matter, let alone have a strong desire to act upon it. The psychology is all wrong.

So let us suppose instead that Admiral Xavier Meade takes his Catholicism very seriously indeed, and is heavily influenced by it in forming his values and determining his military conduct. Clearly this is what the screenwriters intend to convey by giving him the name “Xavier”, after the great Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier, a name virtually unused in any other context.

If this is the case, then the Admiral will have been carefully instructed morally. He will understand that Catholics concern themselves with sin and guilt not because other people are sinners but because we all are sinners. He will grasp that we must imitate Our Lord, who always embodied what has become the quintessentially Catholic principle: Love the sinner, hate the sin.

Moreover, Admiral Meade would know something about the natural law, from which Catholics derive not only their understanding of sexual morality but, like all good men and women, of fairness. Precisely by virtue of his serious Catholicism, he would be unable to focus on only one type of sin. Nor would he be formed to condemn one kind of sinner while giving a pass to other kinds of sinners. Still less would he consider himself the ultimate judge of the human heart, of who deserves what punishment for which transgressions.

Once again, the psychology is all wrong.


On the one hand, then, we have the unquestioned nobility of the gay soldier, whose cause is passionately promoted by virtue of his homosexuality to make a point. On the other, we have the perfidy of the Catholic commander, twisted against his own men by the corrosive ideas of the Catholic Church. Add to this an unremittingly didactic tone. (Even without the Catholic villain, this program is pedantically over the top.)

But in fact Xavier Meade—taken as a serious Catholic—would be the last person in the chain of command to act, by virtue of his religious faith, as he is portrayed to have acted. The conclusion is clear: Bad psychology is bad characterization; bad characterization is bad storytelling. A program designed to expose prejudice has become a case study in how it works.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: fenton1015153 - Feb. 27, 2015 9:40 AM ET USA

    I would add to your assessment that if Admiral Xavier Meade were a faithful Catholic he would not be a true supporter of the war. Just war is not even on the horizon in popular TV and movies. Take American Sniper for example. TV and movies are used as "entertainment" but in truth they are programing the minds and morals of those unwittingly watching.

  • Posted by: jorchard1934 - Feb. 25, 2015 1:13 PM ET USA

    I watched with this with my wife, who has no filters for this sort of thing. I missed the "my husband" and "Xavier" points, but saw the propaganda in action: rolling the heroic, selfless veteran and loyal spouse (I don't think I've recently seen marriage portrayed so positively in the media) into a single ball with the homosexual identity. The victim's "flaws" were obvious rabbit holes. The final scene invoked strong patriotic feelings, but the manipulation was pitiful, and a lie.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Feb. 25, 2015 8:36 AM ET USA

    The season of Lent demands that we more explicitly "fill up those things that are wanting in the sufferings of Christ." Now I can bear fast, abstinence, and additional penitential acts, but subjecting myself to modern TV series? You go too far. I tried to sit with my family and watch the evening drivel, coercion, and intimidation tactics of modern television programming, but to what end? Know thine enemy? Constant exposure generates constant stress. The history channels produce enough of that.

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Feb. 25, 2015 4:41 AM ET USA

    The drip,drip,drip of media "attitude adjustment" of its audience is so pervasive that it is difficult to find a program without a hidden agenda. This daily exposure to the young or otherwise uninformed is disheartening. I guess that besides prayer, a well-placed comment,when it occurs is the best defense,I suppose. Limiting TV viewing important,but not enough.

  • Posted by: Chestertonian - Feb. 25, 2015 2:02 AM ET USA

    I, too, have been a fan of NCIS, but when that episode started, I changed channels. I was already aware of the liberal, pro-gay and pro-abortion stances of two of the actors, those playing DiNozzo and Abby, so the plot of this episode was no surprise, but still a disappointment. It keeps getting harder to find shows that don't shove acceptance of the gay lifestyle down our throats, so thank God for EWTN! I have joined AFA, and sign all their petitions protesting such programming.