Monday, July 31, 2006

The Passion Of The Souse

I can't beat David Frum's one-sentence commentary on Mel Gibson's apparently legit drunken, anti-Semitic rant when he was arrested for a DUI over the weekend:

If a drunken Mel Gibson did indeed call out, "Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," then there can be only one possible place for a man who believes such things: as the next Secretary General of the United Nations.


Still, as execrable as Gibson's slurrings were, and as much disrepute as he has brought down by association upon Catholics for it (You know Christophobic bigots will be all over this like Michael Moore on a free buffet), it is still his enemies that pose the genuine danger to, among other things, the concept of freedom of speech (via CQ):

Gibson's reported criticism of Jews, contained in a leaked police report detailing his arrest early on Friday morning, included the phrase: "Fucking Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."

He has since apologised for his actions, saying they were "despicable", but community Jewish leaders called for Gibson to be ostracised from Hollywood, where the A-list actor is considered an industry powerbroker.

Calling for a criminal investigation into the Oscar-winning actor and director's remarks, Abraham Foxman, the national director of the US Jewish Anti-Defamation League, said: "We believe there should be consequences to bigots and bigotry." [emphasis added]

Not that Mr. Gibson doesn't obviously appear to, shall we say, "have some issues," and a lot more so than just that vagrant beard he's got going. And not that there won't be attempts to ostracize him from Hollywood, although he pretty much accomplished that with The Passion of the Christ. But a criminal investigation??? Of what? There aren't any laws against being an anti-Semite, any more than there are against Christophobia, homophobia, the heartbreak of psoriasis, or the creepin' crud. And for one overarching, at-one-time-inarguable reason.

The First Amendment guarantees each and every one of us the right, if we so choose, to be an ass. The "consequences to bigots and bigotry" is that everybody else is free to call Mel Gibson an ass, or in this case an anti-Semite, and his reputation has to bear the stench and stain of that self-imposed dishonor for the rest of his life. That moral condemnation doesn't appear to be good enough for Mr. Foxman - and that he is going so far out of his way to try and make an example of a prominent Catholic when more than a few on his own side of the political aisle have indulged in similar conduct with nothing like the same level of outrage out of him - speaks (again) far more about him and his totalitarian instincts than it does Mr. Gibson, no matter how boorish he gets when crawled inside a bottle.

UPDATE: You can't say Gibson ducked responsibility for his actions, at the very least. But Double-H is right that he's still got a long way to go.