Saturday, July 29, 2006

the passion of the Gibson

When Mel Gibson was recently arrested for drunk driving, he became very belligerant towards the police who arrested him. That would be bad enough, but unfortunately he used the word "Jew" in his drunken shouting, and now people are saying that, yep, Mel Gibson really is an anti-Semite. Mel, Mel, Mel, what have you gotten yourself into?

But be fair. It's just too simplistic to assume that what someone does when they are drunk is what they want to do when they are sober. Yes, alcohol reduces inhibitions, but it also impairs judgment generally. Not every mean drunk is someone who really wants to punch people when he's sober. Not every weepy drunk is someone who is constantly fighting tears when he is sober. Not everyone who tells people he was alien abducted when he's drunk believes it when he's sober. And not everyone who yells "Jew" when he's drunk is an anti-Semite when he's sober. Maybe Gibson was just reaching for the word that he thought would be most offensive to the police officer. Maybe it is unconscious behavior he picked up as a child from a drunken anti-Semitic father.

Or maybe Gibson really is suspicious of Jews when he's sober. Maybe it's something that he knows is wrong and struggles with --a legacy of his upbringing. How should we react to that? Should we condemn a man who is outwardly innocent just because we suspect that he faces inner struggles with evil thoughts? How many of us would pass that test?

And one more thing: Patterico suggests that the Sheriff's Department tried to "cover up" the incident by omitting the "Jew" remarks from the report and he condemns the department for that:
He’s not special. He’s a movie star. Big deal. Treat him the same way you’d treat anyone else.
But obviously Gibson is special. Almost anyone else could yell anything and none of their friends, family, coworkers, or customers will ever know what they said. By contrast, now that it has become public, all of Gibson's friends, family, coworkers, and customers (moviegoers) are going to know what Mel Gibson said. The consequences for including that information in the report are likely to be far, far more damaging to Gibson than they would be to most other people. I think leaving it out was an act of decent courtesy on the part of the Sheriff's Department. Especially since they had no reason to be fond of Mel Gibson after his behavior.

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