Sunday, August 06, 2006

In Vino Veritas . . . Ad Nauseam

I'm getting tired of the "alcohol as a truth serum" cliche (or as those who wish to sound intelligent put it, In vino veritas) being used in relation to the ongoing Mel Gibson anti-Semitism scandal. Jay Leno got it right when he quipped that drunken men trying to pick up women at a bar will lie about anything to get what they're looking for. ("Married? No I'm not married. Can I buy you a drink?")

Excessive alcohol consumption breaks down one's self control, which is not what the term "truth serum" implies. When sober, the man at the bar might be attracted to other women, but would never consider actually doing anything about it. That doesn't excuse him from doing so while drunk, However, neither does it make him a serial adulterer. As far as I am aware, this is the first instance where Mr. Gibson has said or done anything anti-Semitic. Does his recent personal failing make him a serial anti-Semite? Only someone with an agenda could believe that. I believe a sober Mel Gibson may privately struggle against the hateful ideas he most certainly heard from his father on a daily basis. Certainly he has many unresolved issues that he needs to deal with. As I have said before, I hope he takes advantage of this opportunity to begin his personal healing.

One thing that is significant and that has gotten little attention is the fact that, unlike so many PR apologies issued by celebrities and politicians recently, Mel Gibson acknowledged that what he said was wrong and apologized for having said it. He did not apologize on the basis of other people being offended. (i.e. "I'm sorry if what I said offended anyone.") He has actually taken responsibility for what he said and is, or at least appears to be, making a sincere attempt to deal with it in a responsible way. I challenge you to name another public person who has not tried to obfuscate their actions or avoid responsibility for them.

Saddly, so much is being made of Mr. Gibson's drunken, anti-Semitic rant and comparatively little is made of the anti-Semitic shooting and murder at a Seattle Jewish center or the near daily anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rants of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Personally, I think the bigger threat is the unapologetic and eschatologically obsessed "lunatic-with-a-nuke", not a Hollywood celebrity who can, at worst, only subject us to "bombs" at the local multi-plex cinema.