I call on Pat Boone, the gentle Christian giant who has spent his entire life defending the cause of Judaism. Pat, I am convinced, is incapable of fury, but he is incredulous. "What makes Mel Gibson a hotter news item than, say, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the most vocal and vehement Jew hater in the world? If Courtney Love had done the same thing, would she get this kind of attention?"
He condemns the "piranha, flesh-devouring mentality" of our society but stresses that "Mel's case is something much, much more. He defied the movie establishment by privately financing, writing, directing and producing the most successful Bible film in history." He urges his friend to seek treatment for his alcoholism, to surround himself with friends who love him, and to "bear up, friend Mel. The Jew you extolled so magnificently in 'The Passion' hasn't forsaken you. And any of us who have needed forgiveness for our own absurd and hurtful behavior should follow His example."
I call on Michael Medved, the Jewish film critic who has spent years defending the cause of Christianity. He is clearly wounded by Gibson's words and his "pathetic understanding of Jewish identity" but also feels the apology is sincere and Jews therefore are commanded to forgive him. He urges Gibson to reach out to Jewish leaders quietly, cautioning against the "Jesse Jackson shakedown" he feels will follow from some unscrupulous elements in the Jewish community who will propose major financial gifts to prevent retaliatory strikes.
I endorse all these things but propose one more. Mel Gibson has been tormented by a drinking problem, and the events that ugly night on Malibu's Pacific Highway prove the demon still controls his life. His first priority must be to conquer his alcoholism. This will take months. It could take years. It may never happen. But if he succeeds in defeating his addiction, a golden opportunity awaits. Let him come forward as publicly as possible, surrounded by friends like Mason, Boone, Medved, Swayze, Foster and Devlin, and so many others of goodwill in Hollywood to condemn all forms of religious bigotry. It is a cause begging for leadership, and it could become his greatest public accomplishment.
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