Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Mel Gibson thing

I was thinking of posting something to this effect on a Catholic blog I read sometimes, but I decided that would lead to no good, and here I can be more honest anyway.

So Justin and I were on the BART heading back to the airport the first time I flew out to visit him in Berkeley. There was this drunk Eastern European guy ranting loud obscenities about Jews. We were only on the train for one stop, from Ashby to Macarthur, but I was bawling when we got onto the platform. And, yeah, I was leaving Justin, which was already depressing. But the incident really upset me.

I'm not a practicing Jew, as you all know, and ethnically I'm only a quarter Jewish--though it's my maternal grandmother, so I'm Jewish where it counts. Since my grandmother never really practiced and I wasn't really raised with any sort of Jewish identity, and since there's nothing about me that screams "I'M A JEW!" to the general public, I'm probably not entitled to take anti-Semitism as personally as I do. But I do.

So when people who are already sort of inclined to give Gibson a pass first react to reports of what he said about Jews when he was arrested for drunk driving by saying, "Oh, I don't believe he could say that," and then when he acknowledges and apologizes for what he said they say, "He's redeemed himself"--I know I'm suppose to forgive repentant sinners and everything, but if you'd excuse me, I'd like a moment to be angry.

Especially since this coincides rather unpleasantly with the (completely unrelated) shooting of six Jews in my hometown.

I've heard people suggest he was just really drunk. Well, I've heard he had a blood alcohol level of .12. Legal driving limit in California is .08, not that far off. I've been too drunk to drive on a number of occasions (Juliet's a lush! we always suspected), and still been fully in possession of my wits not only to know that I shouldn't be driving, but also not to go off on offensive paranoid rants about particular ethnic or religious groups, as far as I remember or have been told. Please notify me with a wine bottle upside the head if that changes.

Of course I don't know what he really thinks. I don't know what anyone but me thinks. I just know what people say and do. That's the only way you can judge someone's character.

I've never really been a fan of Gibson's movies and know I couldn't stomach The Passion of the Christ, and I've always vaguely felt he was a little to the right of loopy, so I don't have much invested in defending him anyway. I am a little unnerved how many people do. Especially Catholics. I don't over-impute anti-Semitism to the Catholic Church--it's clearly a phenomenon that transcends all cultures and religions and times--but I do think we need to acknowledge we have a rather spotty history in the area of Christian-Jewish relations, and hold our fellow believers accountable for their words and actions when they cause offense. If Gibson's apologized, that's very good, but there are still consequences for his actions, and one of those consequences is that I'm probably going to take more than 24 hours to hear about it, be offended, and get over it.

1 comment:

eric said...

Can't blame you for being angry, Juliet. I'm still stunned, even after he came clean. Just because he's drunk doesn't mean he cannot be held accountable, especially at a BAL of .12. Hopefully time and actions (on his part) will perform a modicum of healing.