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July 31, 2006



I have no idea if Mel Gibson is anti-Semitic or not.

Yeah, it's not like he has a history that would suggest it or anything. Like the way he called a cop "sugar tits," it's not like his sober statements about women back that up or anything.

When a person gets really drunk, they might vomit, piss themselves, tell strangers they love or hate them -- oh, yeah, and hate the Jews.

Except not. Hugo, one of these things is not like the others.

Hugo, one of these things is not like the others.

For the average citizen, sure. For someone who (1) was raised by a raging anti-Semite, (2) belongs to a religion that doesn't condone anti-Semitism, but which also requires you to honor your father and mother, whether they deserve it or not, and (3) has been repeatedly and unfairly accused of anti-Semitism in the past, spewing some incoherent crap about Jews fits right in with vomiting, pissing oneself, or generally lashing out at the world.

One side of me wants to say nothing, and quietly enjoy the irony of liberals finally calling on anyone in Hollywood to be held accountable for anything. The other side says that what's bad for the goose isn't any better for the gander.


Yeah, I'm not particularly interested in figuring out just exactly how Mel Gibson feels about the Jews, but if I were this incident would certainly come under consideration. A few reasons--first, the you're quite right that the stupid things we say when drunk may not accurately reflect our true or deep feelings--but of course sometimes they do. There's no hard or fast rule here. Furthermore, we're operating with a preponderance of evidence here--his father is a holocaust denier, or at least minimizer, and he's said he agrees with his father about everything. And then, I'm sorry, there's any number of classic anti-semetic tropes and images in that one movie.

If I'm guilty of any schadenfraude, it's not directed at Gibson, obviously a troubled and confused man. It's directed at the people who insisted I was crazy, conspiratorial, and anti-Christian to see even a hint of anti-semetism in his most recent work.

(And Braveheart would still be a terrible film, even it if were straight from the historical record)

Mr. Bad

I agree with you Hugo, what someone says in a drunken stupor isn't usually reflective of their true personality. From what I've read, I've not seen any "misogynist" statements (even "sugar tits" isn't misogynist) and the criticism that "jews start all the wars" is something that is heard quite often from left-wingers, especially on college campuses that pride themselves on being 'progressive.' Thus, once again, it seems that left-wingers are exploiting this incident to score political points, when in fact much worse anti-semitic and sexist comments come from lefties themselves, who by the way are quite sober when making them and thus don't have any excuses the way Mel does.



I don't think it reflects his beliefs but rather his struggle with his upbringing. He was raised by a father who is viciously anti-semitic, yet he himself recognizes that hatred of the Jews is against his religion.

But to break his training, he requires the use of his higher functions of his brain, especially those that inhibit actions -- the same ones that are knocked out by intoxication. I think this incident gives insight into two of his struggles -- against alcohol and racism. That he's struggling against both is, I believe, a point in his favor. Still, it's done enormous damage, to him, his career, and to how many will view Christianity.

His movie causes me far more problems. Nancy was the one who pointed out the comparison I used in my blog article between the feminist concept of "consciousness raising" (she said I could use it without attribution). Gibson does not wish to be anti-semetic, and yet he used the transcribed visions of a famous anti-semite, Anne Catherine Emmerich, on which to base the movie. I think the anti-semitic things that made it into the movie were there because he does not understand that they are anti-semitic. It's like someone who refuses to give the female engineer the difficult, math-laden assignments because he wants to see her succeed as a woman engineer. The intent is benign, but it winds up being horribly sexist.

As someone who, as a child, went to synagogue on Friday, the Catholic church on Saturday, and the Presby church on Sunday, I have a bit more understanding of how Jewish people percieve Christianity. Going to a university that was 70% Jewish that put me in a distinct minority, and then being part of a IVCF, a group that puts a heavy emphasis on evangelization, taught me that there are things we as Christians do not see as they are seen by our Jewish sisters and brothers.

I join you in praying for Mr. Gibson, but I fear this is something that will take him a long time to recover from, and it will require him to confront the questions of racism that now surround him.

Simply saying "He was drunk" won't cut it, any more than a man raping a woman "because he was drunk" wouldn't cut it.


Rob, I'm not excusing Mel's words. I am objecting to two things:

1. The notion of "in vino veritas", that what we say when drunk generally reflects our true feelings.

2. The notion that good Christians don't struggle against darkness, including addiction, bigotry, and other sins.


Why is what Mel Gibson did so important? I dont think anyone has the right to be throwing stones. There are plenty of liberals and conservatives who have gotten drunk and mouthed off. Why take the things he said or did so personally? His feelings and beliefs belong to him. I seriously dont agree with driving drunk, he was absolutely wrong for that. But, for those of you who take his drunken criticizms to heart, why? Its impossible to decide feelings and opinions for others, you can only decide your own. Its a perfect time, for several reasons, to either stop letting hatred speak to us so easily or to ask why it does.

Barbara P

I think we could make judgments from things he said while he was sober. I got this from comments on Echidne's site (the playboy interview gives some idea about how he feels about women):

Mel Gibson's comments while sober

It's true that people are never all good good or all bad, and part of me feels a little sorry for him too. (I also liked his performance in "Hamlet", and I think he's generally a good actor.)

But based on many things I've heard, I don't have much respect for him personally, and I don't apologize for that!


People's "true feelings" may not come out when they are drunk.

But it sure hurts like hell to hear it anyway. Mr. Gibson may or may not be anti-semitic (I'm leaning towards "may") but even if he isn't, if you're Jewish and you hear this, it'll hurt.

Mr. Bad

Barbara P. said: "I think we could make judgments from things he said while he was sober. I got this from comments on Echidne's site (the playboy interview gives some idea about how he feels about women):"

From the Playboy interview cited at Echidne's site:

PLAYBOY: What about allowing women to be priests?


PLAYBOY: Why not?

GIBSON: I'll get kicked around for saying it, but men and women are just different. They're not equal. The same way that you and I are not equal.

PLAYBOY: That's true. You have more money.

GIBSON: You might be more intelligent, or you might have a bigger dick. Whatever it is, nobody's equal. And men and women are not equal. I have tremendous respect for women. I love them. I don't know why they want to step down. Women in my family are the center of things. An good things emanate from them. The guys usually mess up.

PLAYBOY: That's quite a generalization.

GIBSON: Women are just different. Their sensibilities are different.

I see no misogyny in this whatsoever; in fact, rather than hating women he comes across as truly loving and admiring them. True, he doesn't like some women that he's had to work with (a statement about this was not included because it contained the "c-word" and Hugo doesn't allow that here), especially feminists, but I see nothing wrong with that. Disliking some people because of who they are as a person is different than disliking people because of their group-identity.

As I said, I see much more intolerance and hatred based on group identity coming from garden-variety feminists and other so-called "progressives" than I do coming from Gibson.


Mr. Bad, watch the thread drift. This is not a post about feminism.


I've been drunk before. I wouldn't say that I was more honest then. But I also wouldn't say that demon rum put any thoughts into my head that weren't there before.

Sometimes we all say things we don't mean because we're frustrated, and because our perspective is clouded. But the things we choose to say in those moments, though we may not truly believe them, are not random. Compare this, for example, with the discussion of "trash talking" in the aftermath of the Zidane incident - if we don't excuse a player who uses hateful slurs without "really meaning them" in the course of a sport, why should we excuse it for someone who's mad about getting pulled over?

I think the best that could be said of someone that makes anti-Semitic statements while drunk is that they're struggling to overcome their own anti-Semitism. Is there evidence of this in Mr. Gibson's case?

Mr. Bad

Ok, sorry Hugo. I thought that Gibson's attitudes re. women and jews were fair game, and I compared his views to those that I thought people here (i.e., feminists and "progressives") would be familiar with.

I feel that Gibson is getting hammered by the media and blogosphere in a manner that doesn't reflect the same level of charity that Christians, 'progressives,' and other left-leaning types reserve for non-conservatives. I think this is more about intolerance of conservatives and fundie Christians than it is about Mel's problems with alcohol. Lots of celebrities have had problems with drink and drugs (Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, McKenzie Philips, Courtney Love, et al.) and plenty of notable politicos have made serious anti-semitic statements (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, et al.) but you don't see the media hammering them like they are Mel Gibson.

Yes folks, like is partisan politics more than anything else.


I cannot for the life of me understand why a man with Mel Gibson's financial resources wouldn't just call a cab rather than trying to drive himself home. I have no where near his financial resources but more than once I've taken a cab home had to find a friend to give me a ride to retrieve my car the next day (or pay for a 2nd cab ride).

As far as his words: I was raised in a house where raging tirades were later ignored when the perpetrator expressed remose. Having been on the receiving end of more than a few raging tirades that the person later regreted I believe it doesn't matter what his intent was when he was spewing venom. He said it and he can feel bad all he wants - it means nothing. He said the words - and being drunk is not excuse. The words have had their effect - damaging and demeaning persons. He can feel bad all he wants, it means exactly nothing until he atones for his words.

The Gonzman

Simply saying "He was drunk" won't cut it, any more than a man raping a woman "because he was drunk" wouldn't cut it.

Tell that to the Kennedys.

Oh yeah. They have the "Correct" politics. That gives them a pass. Even when they kill someMARY JO KOPECHNEone.

Silly me, I forgot that rule.

Jonathan Dresner

You're entitled to your theology, Hugo, but your psychology needs work: the definition of "true self" that deliberately excludes drunken statements directly contradicts your argument that Christians need to come to terms with not just their conscious desire for grace but their demons, base impulses, bad upbringing, etc.

And he can apologize all he wants for his drunkenness; until he apologizes for the antisemitism of Passion, I'm done with Gibson and all his work.


And he can apologize all he wants for his drunkenness; until he apologizes for the antisemitism of Passion, I'm done with Gibson and all his work.


I think there's something to be said for the argument that a man raised by a raving holocaust denier would have to be extraordinarily virtuous and strong-minded to escape every trace of antisemitism, and strong and virtuous Gibson certainly is not. But if we accept that it isn't entirely his fault alone - leaving aside that the man is what, fifty years old - it's all the more ridiculous and embarassing for him or his supporters to deny that his bigotry exists. His antisemitism was probably instilled in him at a young enough age to make it difficult to root out completely. That's what happens when you're raised by bigots. But the fact that it's a conditioned reflex does not mean it doesn't exist. When he's pissing himself in a drunk tank, you can't claim he's not a drunk. When he's bellowing about the evil Jews, you can't claim he's not an anti-semite.

If he had the spine to come out and admit that his upbringing made him a bigot, and he's trying to get better, just as he's come out and admitted he's an alcoholic trying to get better, then and only then might sympathy be warranted. But I don't believe he's honest enough to do that.


Jonathan, I agree that we are called to come to terms with our demons, be they bigotry or addiction to substances. I'm not saying that Gibson didn't fall short of an ideal; I'm saying that "falling short", even woefully, is something Christians do all the time. I'm objecting to the notion that drunken statements are revelatory of inner feelings (they may be, but aren't automatically) and to the notion that to be a good Christian is to live a sinless life. That's it. As for Gibson's anti-Semitism, I don't know enough to know -- I do know how I feel about him as a filmmaker. If he is a bigot, I hope he seeks recovery from that as well.


Some commetary on Mel Gibson: Anti-Semite? here.

Frankly, my own criticisms of Gibson have nothing to do with whether or not he's a model Christian. I think he's a lousy filmmaker whose taste for sadism freaks me out. I also think that if you get pulled over for drunk driving and call a cop "sugar tits" [which is *definitely* misogynistic, btw], and start ranting about Jews otherwise, I think it's a perfectly valid criticism to say both of those things are offensive and absurd.

I think you can try to defend Mel from the "in vino veritas" claim, but honestly, I don't see it going anywhere. The man got drunk and spewed hateful bile at a traffic stop. Even if that's not his core conviction, it's still an appalling thing to say, and the fact of the matter remains that he said it.

Tony v

What someone says while drunk is possibly the worst tangential way we can analyze someone's beliefs and the meaning of their previous work. But pretty much all of Gibson's critics know this, and would be more than happy to point you to much more in depth analyses of his work, his cult-like part of the Catholic Church, and his crazy interviews.

But no one seems to care about that. Saying that Gibson's sect is known for its reactionary views simply doesn't get play on on morning news shows. And then a propoganda gift from the Heavens is delivered to them. It is not very Christian or enlightened of them to use this, but these liberals are getting desperate.


I have no idea if Mel Gibson is anti-Semitic or not.--Hugo

I thought you said you saw The Passion of Christ.

His feelings and beliefs belong to him.--Elizabeth

Except, that, he's an artist who makes movies that are decidedly about his beliefs; he is very public about his beliefs (see the Playboy interview excerpt, above). He doesn't get to be vocal about his beliefs about Jews while drunk and excuse it by saying "I was drunk." And you ought not try to excuse him with ideas that now his views are somehow sacrosant--the ones about Jews causing all the wars in the world and such.

And I might mention--while Hugo may be right that being drunk doesn't always bring out 'truths' that you feel deep down, it sometimes idoes. That fact, combined with all of the other reasons why Gibson might be anti-Semitic to whatever degree, combined with the fact that he likes to, when being arrested, say terrible things about Jews, counts as anti-Semitic to me.

And by the way, Hugo, we can feel both sorry for the guy for being a drunk and full of hate, and happy that his hipocrisy is showing. They're not mutually exclusive, I think.

Barbara P

Mr. Bad,

It comes across pretty clearly in that interview that Mel Gibson doesn't like women who "don't know their place". Whenever someone tells me they don't think that women should be religious leaders, I interpret that as a hatred or fear of real women, sometimes replaced by a love of an unrealistic ideal (and one that places women in a powerless role).

And I for one never give a pass to people who say misogynistic or antisemitic things, regardless of political persuasion. Frankly, I couldn't care less about the "hypocrisy on the left" that you seem to want to talk about. There's hypocrisy on the right, too. There's hypocrisy everywhere! Lots and lots. What's your point?

Douglas, Friend of Osho

Xrql: I guess my catechism teachers in the 60s were just kidding with that stuff about Jews being collectively responsible for the Crucifixion. Silly me and my 9-year-old mind; I should have known that phrases like "killers of our Redeemer" were meant to be tonuge in cheek. And I guess Pius XII really just wanted normalized relations with the Third Reich.

Bad/Gonz: Some leftists are bigots. And your point is?

Hugo: Sorry, Padre, a man with a heart full of hate like Mel Gibson is worthy of condemnation, without qualification, in my opinion. I well remember that talk-show incident in the 80s where, out of clear blue sky, he went on a rant about gays, ending with him showing his duff to the camera and saying, "See this? It's for taking a dump---and nothing else!!" Your equanimity is, of course, your prerogative and demostrates one key difference between us: I'm content to do a good thing and leave it to others to do the better. You strive to do the better. Vive la difference on that score, I say, but in Gibson's case, to hell, or better yet, to perpetuity in a bar full of tranny gay-male Jews for him.

Douglas, Friend of Osho

Oops, sorry Xrql, I just realized you were referring to Gibson's anti-Semitism, not specifically the Catholic Church's. Mea maxima culpa.

Mr. Bad

Barbara and evil, calling a woman "sugar tits" does not fit the definition of misogyny in that it does not demonstrate hatred of or strong predjudice (or even fear for that matter) against women in general. Contempt for some individual women, sure, but contempt is not something found solely in conservative Christian males. Spin it all you like, but you're not proving misogyny to any of us thinking, reasonable people.

Osho, my point is that IMO this is more about Hollywood politics than it is about principles. Truly principled people apply standards evenly to everyone regardless of political considerations, while partisans hacks hammer political opponents and give political allies a pass (e.g., see the NOWs reaction to Bill Clinton's sexual assaults vs. their reaction to the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas disagreement). What we're seeing here is an example of the latter.

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