To a lot of Christians, the worst happened this weekend when their great crusader for faith in Hollywood took a very public, very appalling tumble from grace.
To many others (read: rabid secularists and the press) Mel Gibson’s arrest was the best thing that could happen, proving what they’ve suspected all along—that all those Jesus freak bible-thumpers (even those who support Israel) are a bunch snarling anti-Semites.
But what does Gibson’s DUI arrest and subsequent anti-Semitic tirade really signify? Perhaps less about Gibson than it does about the rest of us.
To wit: The first comment most evangelicals I know made after hearing about the incident was, “Okay, so he probably was driving drunk, but gosh, I really hope he didn’t say anything racist.” Forget the fact that he might have killed someone, he made nasty remarks about another group of people! Years of pistol whipping from the politically-correct police have taught the public to value feelings above everything, including life, so that bigotry alone is the unforgivable sin.
This is not to discount the seriousness of racism--the very existence of Hezbollah demonstrates where such thought patterns can lead--but alcoholics (particularly alcoholics in the process of being arrested) have been known to say hideous things while drunk that they wouldn’t even think in their right minds. Once sober, Gibson issued an apology, saying, “I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed…” In a later statement he specifically expressed his regret to the Jewish community: “There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said,” stated Gibson.
America has witnessed countless scandals from its public figures over the years, but it has seen few apologies as filled with remorse and acknowledgement of wrong doing as this one. Unlike another well-known individual recently caught driving while intoxicated, Gibson hasn’t hidden behind lawyers or tried to attribute his behavior to some other cause like sleeping medication. The day after the incident, he commented simply, “After drinking alcohol on Thursday night, I did a number of things that were very wrong.” He didn’t say, “I don’t remember doing wrong things, but I’ve been told that I did.” Nor did anyone have to track down bartenders to confirm he’d been imbibing. He acted like a man and admitted it.
Megan Basham is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide To Having It All
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