Gibson’s Passion, shaken and stirred
With Mel Gibson in the news because of his arrest for drunken driving at high speed and his horrendous belligerent behavior and drunken tirade at the police, newer readers of VFR may be interested in my view of his movie of “The Passion,” which set off a huge debate at VFR about the film when it opened back in February 2004.
I disagree with Powerline and with Don Feder at FrontPage Magazine that Gibson’s anti-Semitic ravings while in a state of extreme intoxication are a fair indication of his real feelings about Jews. That is no more true than that his ravings and threats against the arresting officers indicate his “real” feelings about police. Yet we haven’t seen headlines scream, “The truth comes out! Gibson is a cop-hater!” So, blame Gibson for getting drunk out of his mind, and hold him to account for driving while drunk out of his mind. But don’t issue some final condemnation of him for things he said while drunk out of his mind.
Alcohol not only releases the unattractive and disorderly sides of ourselves that we normally keep in check, it may introduce aggressive and belligerent impulses that we normally don’t feel at all. To conclude that what a person says while in a state of extreme intoxication when his faculty of self-control has been suspended is what the person “really” believes is to cancel him out as a moral being. Judgment is part of what makes us human. It is wrong to judge a person for what he says when his judgment has been removed.
I say this as someone who has strongly criticized Gibson for his mealy-mouthed comments about the Holocaust and his failure to distance himself from the views of his Holocaust-denying father, which also triggered quite a debate at VFR.
Also, I am not saying that Gibson’s drunken rant that the Jews are the cause of all wars is not a legitimate topic. It would be perfectly fair for an interviewer now to ask him, “Do you believe what you said about the Jews? And if you don’t believe it, where was that comment coming from? Why did you say it?” If Gibson’s reply to those questions is as weak and evasive as his reply to the questions about his father and the Holocaust, then on that basis (not on the basis of what he said while drunk) we could fairly make conclusions about what he really thinks about Jews.
However, I am impressed by the fact that in Gibson’s statement released to the media today (which I read after posting the above), he is asking of himself the very question that I said ought to be asked of him, using the same words that I used:
I have begun an ongoing program of recovery and what I am now realizing is that I cannot do it alone. I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display [emphasis added], and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery. Again, I am reaching out to the Jewish community for its help. I know there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed.Notwithstanding the therapy-talk, of which there is much more in the rest of his statement, the italicized text strikes me as a sincere statement containing genuine remorse and even disgust at what he had said about the Jews. Some VFR readers think the whole issue is just another example of liberals and Jews wielding the PC club on Christians. I disagree. Gibson, on being arrested for drunken driving, immediately proceeded to rant about Jews being the cause of all wars. This was demented behavior in a public person who has made a highly controversial movie about the Crucifixion, and it is appropriate that Gibson should deal with it seriously.
Meanwhile, if you want to see a true bigot in action (an anti-Christian bigot who is nevertheless welcome at many conservative publications), read Christopher Hitchens’s column about Gibson in Slate.
I agree with where you are coming from when you just stated that these are serious statements from a man who made a Christian movie. Okay I’ll accept that because its true.LA replies:
I think Gibson’s critics should focus on my point, which everyone seems to have missed. Gibson was committing a whole set of extreme destructive behaviors. Driving drunk. Driving drunk at apparently very high speed (which is criminal, murderous, and suicidal behavior). Cursing out cops and threatening them. Walking away from the cops. Banging himself against the car seat. And in the midst of all this insane behavior, making a couple of extreme statements about Jews. Since his overall behavior was insane, why don’t Gibson’s critics at least admit the possibility that his statements about Jews were insane too, and not the expression of something he really believes?Ben replies:
I agree with everything you’re saying, I have no love for Gibson, to me he is just another Hollywood guy who made a Christian movie, he is not a Christian leader at all. I don’t get my Christian teachings from Gibson.David B. writes:
Allow me to weigh in, if I may. When someone is drunk, he is very unpredictable. A multi-millionaire celebrity, accustomed to deference from those he encounters, is likely to react with hostile behavior and language when a deputy sheriff tries to arrest him. It is not too surprising that the arrested celebrity would say the most outrageous things he could come up with.LA:
My starting point is not, “Here we go again with another leftist double standard being wielded against conservatives.” My starting point is, “What should we should think about Gibson’s behavior?” Maybe that sounds pie-in-the-sky. But I think it is the only way we can stand on firm ground and not have our judgments of things driven by our reactions to the viciousness of the left.[See later entry where I amend what I said above.]
I was listening to the Michael Medved show’s discussion about Gibson’s anti-Semitism when a caller (a police officer) offered an interesting explanation. He said, basically, that the course of the whole discussion about Gibson (what he said, why he said it, what he really believes, and what should be done about it) was wrong, including Medved’s take.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 01, 2006 09:37 AM | Send