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Aug 2
Mel Gibson’s Passion and Penance
Now that people have stopped dying from heat, the buzz in my town, LA-LA Land, has been Mel Gibson. Gibson,  actor, producer, director and Oscar winner was arrested for DUI July 28th in Malibu. A Hollywood star in trouble? Hardly news. Unfortunately, Gibson took it to a new level. He flew into an anti-Semitic tirade that initially was strangely suppressed by the police.

I mention it here because Gibson’s sober response to the situation was pretty good crisis management although it remains to be seen if it is just PR spin or career protection. Secondly, there is a noteworthy response from a Jewish leader to the Gibson events and apology.

Hollywood is no stranger to bad behavior. It also has a pretty good track record for looking past almost any behavior to if there is a dollar to be made.

In Gibson’s case, it actually took two apologies but the second feels like more than just words. It was not only an acknowledgement of wrong-doing but an action plan to get things right. In a crisis, a pro-active plan leads to support and understanding, particularly if the plan is followed by action. From the Washington Post:

"I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge.” Gibson added that he had begun an unspecified "program of recovery" and asked "the Jewish community" for help "in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display."

"I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot," Gibson's statement continued. "Hatred of any kind goes against my faith. I'm not just asking for forgiveness. I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one-on-one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing."

Of course those are easy words for a press agent to craft. The test will be if Gibson takes action and follows through on his promise to change including meeting Jewish leadership. 

Most would agree that words said in a drunken state are often words that are truly felt but are controlled in a state of soberness. So maybe Gibson is a bigot and the Tequila finally told the truth. 

One Jewish leader, Rabbi Daniel Lapin of Toward Tradition, defends Gibson’s efforts to repress these thoughts in soberness and suggests that

“If Mr. Gibson really does hate Jews as his drunken diatribe might indicate, his behavior towards the many Jews he knows has always been nothing but cordial and respectful. He has never supported (as have too many Jews) Palestinian causes and other organizations that encourage the murder of Jews. Amazingly Mel Gibson has utterly resisted the natural human temptation to snap back at the so called "Jewish Establishment" for its vicious assaults on The Passion.
He deserves censure for being drunk and for the anti-Semitic remarks. But he already knows that, which is why he apologized. A balanced and reasonable view would be that if indeed he really does hate Jews, then he deserves respect for his self control when not drunk.”

 Toward Tradition is a bridge-builder between Jewish and Christian communities. Rabbi Lapin acknowledges Gibson’s financial support of Toward Tradition.

1 Comments/Trackbacks

It seems that Mel said more than that (I’m referring to the policeman that arrested him). The important thing is how he behaves when he is not drunk. As for his believes… In vino veritas.

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