In vino veritas?

gibson 01Aristotle and Plato had different conceptions of what a drunk was responsible for. Plato said the drunk was only responsible for getting drunk. Aristotle said he was responsible for getting drunk but also for whatever happened while he was inebriated. (I should note that I may have completely misremembered these views.) I bet Mel Gibson is wishing that most of the world follows Plato's line of thinking right now.

Various media outlets report that during a DUI arrest, Mel Gibson acted a fool and made both sexist and anti-Semitic comments to his arresting officers. Here's the Los Angeles Times:

The deputy said he told Gibson "that if he remained cooperative, I would transport him without handcuffing."

Instead, he said, Gibson tried to flee back to his car. After he was subdued and handcuffed, the actor told the deputy: "You're going to regret you ever did this to me."

Gibson, the report continued, then said he "owned Malibu" and launched a "barrage of anti-Semitic remarks."

Those remarks included Gibson's statement that "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," the report said. After that, Gibson allegedly asked the deputy: "Are you a Jew?"

The sexist remark was bizarre and uncalled for as well. Anyway, Gibson issued an apology for his drunkenness and the things that he said, admitting he has struggled with alcoholism for years:

I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry.

Had Gibson not apologized for his behavior, I would probably still be telling my fiance he was gullible to believe this crazy story. But apparently there is truth to the police report. The media coverage has been pretty good, I think.

The (leaked) police report is horrific enough that reporters are able to just quote from it without unnecessary commentary.

It looks like the mainstream media are showing proper restraint in coverage (thus far) since, while Gibson's comments are fair game for attack, he made them while obviously drunk. Those of us who have ever regretted a comment after an evening of imbibing would probably not wish to have that comment stay with us forever. Timothy Noah at Slate makes a good, if uncharitable, point:

The best case that can be made for Gibson's belief system now is that he's anti-Semitic only when he's three sheets to the wind. And really, now. Are you in the habit of declaring, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world" when you get pie-eyed?

The thing is that some folks seem to make such comments while completely sober! Anyway, because Gibson is such a prominent Roman Catholic artist, the questions about his views about Jews are legitimate. His career will be affected, for sure. Or maybe not.

Roman Polanski seems to be able to drug and rape a 13-year-old and keep getting Oscar nods. Of course, if upstanding morality were a precursor for success in the arts, O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, Don Simpson, Fatty Arbuckle, Winona Ryder, Phil Spector, Robert Blake, Hugh Grant, George Michael, Errol Flynn, Eddie Murphy, Charlie Sheen, Woody Allen and Pee Wee Herman would likely not be household names. But we tend to be a forgiving people when it comes to Hollywood. Or, at least, we tend to judge the artistic merits of, say, Woody Allen apart from his capacity for marrying and having children with a girl whose mother is, well, the mother of two of his children.

But with Gibson it will be interesting to see if The Passion of the Christ is reconsidered in light of his drunken outburst or whether his upcoming Mayan flick will still make a gazillion dollars.

Anyway, supporting documents can be found at The Washington Post's Slate.

It will be interesting to see coverage in coming months, and whether Gibson addresses his anti-Semitic comments in more detail or with more analysis. Please let us know if you see any good or bad coverage.

UPDATE: Just found Rod Dreher's thoughts at Beliefnet, including:

If this is true about Mel Gibson, then he ought to get to confession and spend a long time repenting for having embraced the evil of anti-Semitism. Failing to do that not only destroys his own image, it brings disgrace upon Catholics and other Christians who have embraced and supported him -- especially those of us who defended him when he was under attack before.

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