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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Booze-Fueled Tirade Hurts Gibson

by Tony Norman

While struggling to recover his composure in a drunk tank in Malibu early Friday morning, it's possible that a passage from the Gospel of St. Luke flickered briefly across Mel Gibson's bleary mind:

"The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."


After hurling enough anti-Semitic epithets at his arresting officer to qualify for an honorable mention in the next edition of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," the maverick director, A-list actor and self-professed "owner" of Malibu knew that once the hangover wore off, he had a lot of 'splainin' to do to Jews in Tinseltown.

Nervously stroking a beard that, ironically, made him look vaguely Hasidic, Mel Gibson understood from experience how the jawbone of an ass felt.

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Sitting handcuffed like Samson in the clutches of the Philistines, Gibson mentally rehearsed mea culpas designed to prompt Michael Medved and Catholic League demagogue William Donohue to defend him as usual.

While mulling over the intricacies of how the Jews "set him up," Gibson was overcome by an overwhelming urge to pee on the booking cell floor. And who could blame him?

After all, a night that began with such promise and drunken insouciance on the Pacific Coast Highway had quickly degenerated into two blood alcohol tests and a career-threatening racist tirade. What did he have to lose?

Just as he began struggling with his zipper, ol' Braveheart was escorted to the nearest urinal by his arresting officer, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy James Mee.

Deputy Mee lost whatever awe he once had for the "Lethal Weapon" star when, during the drive to the Malibu big house, Gibson stopped throwing himself around the patrol car's back seat long enough to ask, "are you a Jew?"

As Mel Gibson proved, any Hollywood director with a modicum of talent can make a movie about Jesus Christ being savagely beaten to death. The trick is to make a film that doesn't feed humanity's worst side while proclaiming its best.

In the statement he released Saturday, Gibson apologized to Deputy Mee and his colleagues. He also apologized for saying things he insists he does "not believe to be true and which are despicable" without specifying what they were.

Of course, a controversy about anti-Semitism wouldn't be possible without Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League calling for a criminal probe of Gibson for "hate crimes." If this isn't the most ridiculous overreaction ever to constitutionally protected, but bigoted, speech, it's certainly up there.

While it's clear that when drunk, Gibson easily falls into the category Woody Allen cheekily referred to as "classic Jew-hater" in "Annie Hall," it's relatively benign compared to what can only be called the "soft" anti-Arab sentiment of many of Israel's most uncritical supporters in Congress and the White House.

Three weeks into Israel's disastrous incursion in Lebanon, civilian casualties on both sides are mounting while Hezbollah is proving itself a formidable fighting force capable of inspiring pride across the usually fractious Shiite-Sunni divide in the Middle East.

Though it has inflicted massive damage to Lebanon's infrastructure, Israel is far from achieving its goals. True friends of that besieged democracy would point out the absurdity of trying to achieve security with the deaths of hundreds of non-combatants, many of them children, in a neighboring, but relatively weak, Arab democracy.

Americans who, out of a zealous desire to support Israel, act as if the Lebanese are sub-human or "acceptable collateral damage" aren't doing the Jewish state any good. To equate opposition to Israeli war policies with the anti-Semitism of the drunken Mel Gibson variety is intellectual folly.

With worldwide condemnation of Israel growing, anti-Semites are licking their chops in delight. They love this war because of the morally compromised quandary it places Israel in. Given the reluctance of the United States and Europe to deploy peace-keeping troops in the region, I question the morality of Western "support" limited to supplying weapons.

This just in: Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney apologized profusely yesterday for calling the Big Dig boondoggle in Boston a "tar baby" at a Republican gathering last weekend.

Black leaders were upset by a reference to Br'er Rabbit by a governor with his eyes on the Republican nomination in 2008.

Why is Mitt Romney name checking Uncle Remus in Ames, Iowa? And why is he the second major Republican in two months to refer to tar babies out of context?

To take the heat off himself, Mel Gibson should take a page from Abe Foxman and call for a "hate crimes" investigation of Mitt Romney.

Sure, it would be silly, but anything that underscores double standards in political discourse is a good thing.

Email to: tnorman@post-gazette.com.

© 2006 PG Publishing Co., Inc.

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Booze-Fueled Tirade Hurts Gibson

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