Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mel Gibson's Passion (David Adler & others)

In vino veritas? As many of you already know, when Mel Gibson was recently pulled over for drunk driving, he erupted with an anti-semitic rant which included the claim that “the fucking Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world” and a demand to know whether the arresting officer was Jewish. (Apparently he was.) These sentiments are considered mainstream in some parts of the world (Britain, for example), but not in southern California.

This incident might have attracted less attention had it not been for the controversy over Gibson's 2004 film "The Passion of the Christ," which many people saw as a expression of the most virulent strain of mediaeval Christian anti-semitism. (I have not seen the film myself--a deliberate decision, since I didn't want Gibson to get my money for it--but such interpretations struck me as more than plausible at the time.) As Rabbi Shmuley Boteach observed:
The Talmud famously says that a man is known in three ways. What he says when he is drunk, what he says when he is angry, and what he spends his money on. On all three counts, it appears that Mel Gibson has sadly shown his true colors. Upon getting arrested for drunk driving, in his inebriated state, he allegedly said something to the effect that “f—ing Jews are responsible for all the world’s wars.” In his anger, he asked the arresting deputy if he himself was Jewish. And, of course, he spent $25 million dollars of his own money arguing that the Jews killed Jesus. Well, there you have it. Drink, anger, and money all lead Mel Gibson to alleged acts of anti-Semitism.
I have seen many discussions of Gibson's outburst and what it might mean, but this brief comment by David Adler gets to the point especially compactly.

--Jeff Weintraub
David R. Adler (Lerterland)
July 30, 2006
Mel Gibson's passion Alcoholism is correctly referred to as a disease, but in this case may it prove to be a cure — a cure for the delusion that Mel Gibson had no antisemitic agenda in making "The Passion of the Christ." Memo to Jewish "leaders" and pundits on the right who signed on to Gibson's whitewash campaign around the film: Just look at the man you were defending.

posted by David R. Adler @ 5:35 PM

New York Times
July 30, 2006
Mel Gibson Apologizes for Tirade After Arrest
By Allison Hope Weiner

MALIBU, Calif., July 29 — The film star and director Mel Gibson apologized Saturday for belligerent behavior and for saying what he called “despicable” things that he does “not believe to be true” when he was arrested here on a drunken-driving charge early Friday.

But Mr. Gibson, in a statement, stopped short of addressing claims that he made virulently anti-Semitic remarks to an arresting officer, as described on a Web site that posted several pages of the sheriff’s report.

The sheriff’s report, carried on, a Web site owned by Time Warner, said Mr. Gibson had demanded to know if the officer, James Mee, was a Jew. During an obscenity-laced tirade, according to the report, Mr. Gibson also said “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”

Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, declined to comment on the report. But he said the department would eventually disclose details of the arrest. “Nothing will be sanitized,” Mr. Whitmore said in a statement.

People associated with the case privately acknowledged the report’s authenticity, but they agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

The report of Mr. Gibson’s outburst further disturbed some people who were already wary of what they saw as anti-Semitic overtones in his 2004 blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ,” and who believe that he has failed to disassociate himself clearly enough from remarks by his father denying the Holocaust.

“If it’s true what’s reported, frequently hatred, bigotry and prejudice, which is controlled, explodes at moments of stress and crisis,” said Rabbi Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “Liquor loosens the tongue of what’s in the mind and in the heart, and in his mind and in his heart is his conspiracy theory about Jews and hatred of Jews.”

Late last year, Mr. Gibson began developing a four-hour miniseries on the Holocaust for ABC, in what was widely seen as an effort to patch up his relations with parts of the Jewish community. A spokesman for the Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC, had no immediate comment on the project’s status. Disney’s studio division is also expected to release Mr. Gibson’s film, “Apocalypto.”

Mr. Gibson, who lives in Malibu, was arrested about 2:30 a.m. Friday on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and released on $5,000 bail.

In a one-paragraph statement issued Saturday through his publicist, Alan Nierob, Mr. Gibson said: “I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said, and I apologize to anyone I may have offended.”

Mr. Gibson acknowledged an ongoing battle with alcoholism and said he was taking “necessary steps to ensure my return to health.”