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IN THEORY:Gibson's fall from grace

August 05, 2006

Actor and director Mel Gibson has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of drunk driving. While sheriff's deputies were arresting Gibson, he allegedly made several anti-Jewish remarks. Gibson later apologized for his "despicable" behavior and said he has battled alcoholism for most of his adult life. Speculation has arisen that Gibson's career may be in jeopardy, and prominent Jewish leaders have condemned him.

What advice as a spiritual leader would you give Gibson at this time?

Years ago, Albert Speer, self-described "second man of the Reich," expressed his penitence in a memoir aimed at rehabilitation. He donated a portion of the profits to a Jewish old age home.

But he was more regretful over his lost privileges than rueful over his deeds.

There are often two reasons people do what they do: the one they tell you and the one they don't. Agendas, ulterior motives, and subtexts may lurk behind what the Latin-loving Mel Gibson would know as mea maxima culpa. Is the actor's avowal of apology a self-serving sham? Is his self-reproach an ingenious and disingenuous ploy to salvage a reputation? Is he genuinely sorry only that his slurs were spread over the Internet? Why, O Why, would his response to being stopped by police officers on a Malibu road be "The Jews cause all the wars in the world"?

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Even if Jews orchestrate the atrocities that Sunni and Shiite visit upon each other, what does that have to do with law enforcement? Is Jewish responsibility for the world's evils relevant to Gibson's driving at excessive speed? Or is his outburst confirmation of the adage that when the heart is narrow, the tongue is wide?

This rant was hardly a mere slip of the tongue, unrelated to his animus.

Mel Gibson did not imbibe anti-Semitism with his tequila. Of course, Mel Gibson is a Jew-hater, evidenced by the classically anti-Semitic film "The Passion of the Christ," and his refusal to distance himself from the odious views of the Holocaust belched up by his father. Does his offer to meet with Jewish leaders exculpate him? No, his battle is not only with his personal demons but with the truth. If we believe his protestations and denials, we are complicit in a charade.

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