Monday, July 31, 2006

Not such a Brave Heart

I can use the Mel Gibson incident as the occasion to comment on the commonly held assumption that when one uses a racial epithet or gender-based slur in anger, it reflects ones' true attitudes; an innate racism or sexism.

I think that's not true. In anger, people often grasp at the most hurtful thing they can say. If I'm fit to kill George, I may call him a dirty whatever, not because I hate whatevers, but because, at least right now, I hate George and I know this will sting.

But I can't use the Mel Gibson incident as an example of that. He didn't know if the cops were Jewish (he had to ask), so I am afraid that, in this case, his tirade does reflect some type of latent anti-Semitism.

Gibson is by all accounts a religious man. He ought to recognize that this is a serious sin. He needs to get to a priest.


xoff said...

There's a line in a James McMurtry song:

"Whiskey don't make liars,
it just makes fools.

"So I didn't mean to say it --
but I meant what I said."

I think that applies in this case.

Anonymous said...

Put another way...

Matt. 12:34b "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."

Michael J. Mathias said...

His anti-Semitism isn’t latent, it’s genetic. His father is a Holocaust denier who believes the Jews were responsible for Vatican II. The PR campaign for “Passion” was designed to rouse the anti-Semitism that bubbles just beneath the surface of evangelical Christianity in this country. The guy’s a creep.

Other Side said...

He could always have himself crucified. Kind of a "Bravehearty," Passion of Christ" thingy (with a nod to Monty Python.)

Anonymous said...

At least Mel won't have to worry about dealing with all those Jewish movie financiers anymore.

Anonymous said...

Attorney Esenberg's post has this odd sentence:

"He [Gibson] didn't know if the cops were Jewish (he had to ask), so I am afraid that, in this case, his [Gibson's] tirade does reflect some type of latent anti-Semitism."

So if Gibson knew the cop stopping him was Jewish, that would mean any subsequent anti-semitic tirade was justifiable?

In point of fact: Officer Mee, the cop who did the ticketing, is Jewish, according to the AP. So I guess Gibson's off the hook?

Gibson was stopped by a Jewish cop because Gibson was driving erratically, not because the cop was Jewish, or suspected that Gibson was an anti-semite who needed a ticket.

Rick Esenberg said...

Anonymous misses the point entirely. If Gibson had been mad at a Jewish acquaintance and used an anti-Semitic slur, he could always say "I'm not really anti-Semitic, I just wanted to say the most hurtful thing I could think of." And maybe that would be true. It wouldn't justify what he said, but it might bear on what it says about him.

But because he did not know the cop was Jewish, he can't claim that he was "just" trying to be mean. Bill and Dean have it right. He spoke from a dark place in his heart and one that is, I am afraid, anti-semitic. That is a sin and requires reconciliation. Let's hope he understands that.

Anonymous said...

Inspired by our President's clumsy post-911 oratory, Mel Gibson will probably go on an equally self-destructive crusade against anti-semitism.

Anonymous said...

In no way am I defending an anti-Semitic tirade, as it is inappropriate in all settings. However, I'd like to take the opportunity to expound on what Mr. Esenberg said by first agreeing with his point, and then taking it one step further; admittedly, I am doubtful as to whether Mr. Esenberg would agree with my extension at all.

The intoxicated individual, to put it mildly, is not in control of all of his or her thoughts. I have been around some unsavory types at local taverns who, once intoxicated, will get into all sorts of fiascos that would never normally come to light in a different setting sans alcohol. As an attorney who deals with criminal law in all of its ugliness, I have seen instances of people with no prior record who, once their BAC gets significant, do some of the most despicable things and make some of the most hurtful comments. My guess is that it's what's commonly referred to as a "belligerent drunk" that would utter such epithets in order to, as Mr. Esenberg stated in different words, really get under the skin of the object of his or her belligerence.

Keep in mind, I mean not to excuse or justify the actions of Mel Gibson; to the contrary, as I said at the outset, such statements are despicable regardless of the context, individual, or actual words used. I merely am stating that it's not right to wholly condemn him to Hell for this act.