Gibson to Jews: Sorry

Mel Gibson speaks:

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 to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge.

I am a public person, and when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. As a result, I must assume personal responsibility for my words and apologize directly to those who have been hurt and offended by those words.

The tenets of what I profess to believe necessitate that I exercise charity and tolerance as a way of life. Every human being is God’s child, and if I wish to honor my God I have to honor his children. But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.

I’m not just asking for forgiveness. I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one on one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing.

I have begun an ongoing program of recovery and what I am now realizing is that I cannot do it alone. I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery. Again, I am reaching out to the Jewish community for its help. I know there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed.

This is not about a film. Nor is it about artistic license. This is about real life and recognizing the consequences hurtful words can have. Its about existing in harmony in a world that seems to have gone mad.

(Hat tip: Drudge.)

“Blurted out in a moment of insanity”? Heh. As usual, South Park had this one nailed. In Stan‘s words: “Mel Gibson is f***ing crazy, dude! … He’s kookoo, dude. He’s absolutely out of his mind.”

P.S. I am reminded of another Great Anti-Semite In History: Richard M. Nixon. Funniest bigoted quote ever: “You know, it’s a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob? What is the matter with them? I suppose it is because most of them are psychiatrists.”

65 Responses to “Gibson to Jews: Sorry”

  1. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Here’s Gibson’s mug shot…

    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0731062melmug1.html

    …It’s actually the best he’s looked in years. Apparently drunken hate rants agree with the guy.

  2. Leanna Loomer says:

    Well, my rabbi told me I would have to deal with anti-Semitism from now on, and this will do until it comes along. Anyone who doubts this, please replace Gibson’s ethnic references with other words, such as n*ggers, b*tches, h*mosexuals, l*sbians, Ir*sh, Tr*jans or whatever group you identify with, and see how you feel about it.

    And then there is the matter of Gibson’s views, drunk or sober, going out to a mass audience unedited. More people have seen The Passion Of The Christ than were in the stadiums listening to Adolf Hitler. You do the math.

  3. uscroger says:

    “Anyone who doubts this, please replace Gibson’s ethnic references with other words, such as n*ggers, b*tches, h*mosexuals, l*sbians, Ir*sh, Tr*jans or whatever group you identify with, and see how you feel about.”

    Please. Don’t overdo it. So, if somebody says they dislike Jews, does that make them anti-semitic?

  4. Brendan Loy says:

    So, if somebody says they dislike Jews, does that make them anti-semitic?

    Ummm…

    Yes?

  5. Scientizzle says:

    At least it was a real apology.
    Not a lot of those any more…

  6. B. Minich says:

    I wonder how much of this was his upbringing – his father is known to be very anti-Semetic, and chances are that he probably believed the same things very strongly in the past. Doesn’t make it right, but may explain why it was below the surface, waiting to be amplified by alcohol.

    The apology is a good start, but combatting something like that (if he is truly combatting it) that has been built in to you for years can be a very difficult thing to do. Let’s hope he takes the comdemnation to heart and learns something.

  7. Lojo says:

    Whether you decide to jump on Mel for his comments or not, I must say its one of the better apologies I have read from a celebrity. No doubt, cleaned and run through several PR experts. But its still good.

  8. Lojo says:

    BTW, was talking this over with the wife, and she said the same thing others did that, “Alcohol tends to make you say things you want to but held back.” And she asked me to give a reasonable alternative to him being a full-fledged anti-semite.

    My response:

    “Well, maybe him and his father have alot of friction in the past. Maybe in a drunken state, he wanted to act the good son and say things his dad approved of. Maybe everyone jumping on his father’s history and using it to imply him as an anti-semite pissed him off so much that in a drunken rage he decide to act like one.”

    Doesn’t excuse his behavior but explains it in the context of not being an anti-semite. But I wasn’t there and don’t know him, so who knows.

  9. Angrier and Angrier says:

    “And then there is the matter of Gibson’s views, drunk or sober, going out to a mass audience unedited. More people have seen The Passion Of The Christ than were in the stadiums listening to Adolf Hitler. You do the math.”

    What a dumbass point of view. The Passion of the Christ was not anti-Semitic despite the bullshit that was put out about it. Watch it before you judge. It was hardly Triumph of the Will.

    By your reasoning people should stop listening to Wagner because he was anti-Semitic. Or buying Fords, because Henry Ford was anti-Semitic. Or watching Fantasia, because Walt Disney was rumored to be anti-Semitic. You need to separate the art from the person’s personal beliefs. Rain Man is a great movie even if Tom Cruise is fucking bats.

  10. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Lojo-

    I think the jury is in on Gibson. He is anti-Semitic. The apology is fine, but anyone who believes it changes his view of the world is kidding themselves.

  11. dcl says:

    I believe by definition.

  12. Corner Rat says:

    He was intoxicated and he started
    blurting out facts that got him in
    trouble.If he was in his right mind
    he would not have said it for fear
    of his own life.The truth is Jesus
    came and went and according to
    history the Jewish leader spent
    so much time Kissing Roman hine
    parts they blew it.They could not
    understand Jesus because he told
    the truth and it cost him his life.
    This is what history says and will
    continue to say my dear friend.

  13. Kat says:

    I agree. If he truly feels that way deep down, it’s not a feeling that can just be switched off like a light bulb. The fact that he’s apologizing is much more than you normally see in Hollywood, and I’m glad he seems to be trying to take all the right steps to combat those emotions.
    I’ve never seen Passion, and I haven’t heard what he said other than that it was anti-Semitic, so I don’t have that information to go on.

  14. Lojo says:

    Angrier –

    I’m not saying he’s not anti-semtic because he’s apologized. I’m saying that I need a little more than a drunken tirade to get there, as I do not know the man. I don’t know his feelings or his thoughts or his world views.

    Now if he said this SOBER or otherwise of sound mind, I’d agree totally. But unless other incidents occur, I’m tallying it under likely, but not set in stone.

  15. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Lojo-

    So then if a guy beat his wife when he gets drunk but doesn’t do it when he is sober, that means he’s not a wife beater?

  16. Ned Lamont says:

    Vote for Ned Lamont on August 8. Remember the kiss…

  17. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Off topic-

    Word is some of the testosterone from Landis was synthetic…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/01/sports/othersports/01landis.html?ei=5065&en=62f8b57a3bf5609d&ex=1155096000&partner=MYWAY&pagewanted=print

    …Naturally occuring higher levels indeed.

  18. Corner Rat says:

    Did Mel beat his wife?Some people
    can control themselves better when they
    are sober. When drinking he is out of control unable to control himself.

  19. Lojo says:

    Angrier –

    STRAWMAN

    My words again:

    “Now if he said this SOBER or otherwise of sound mind, I’d agree totally.”

    Said means, spoken. Last I checked, you speak with your throat, not with your fists.

    Besides, Wife beater is a designation for someone who committed a violent physical assault towards their spouse. It has nothing to do with a belief system or someone’s bigotry towards another group of people.

  20. Lojo says:

    Landis better hope to God that sample B comes back negative.

  21. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Lojo-

    What you are saying is a person shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions or words when drunk. That’s bullshit. The guy is anti-Semitic. The booze didn’t make him say those things out of thin air. I’ve been drunk and I can’t think of a time when I have said something – even outrageous – where it wasn’t based on what I actually thought.

  22. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Lojo-

    No shit on Landis. I can see why Lance Armstrong wants him to fight it. If it turns out Landis was on the juice, then there is going to be greater scrutiny of Armstrong. If it is discovered that Armstrong was using, I think it could be the greatest sport’s scandal ever. Maybe even bigger than the Black Sox.

  23. Brian says:

    When you are angry, you say things to hurt the other person. They need not be things you hold true or believe deeply. Were I wronged by a person of a particular creed or race, I might lash out by insulting that creed or race. It is just a way to get back at that person. It is more likely while under the influence of alcohol.

  24. Lojo says:

    Angrier –

    Okay, calm down. Seriously. Re-READ what I wrote, please.

    “Doesn’t excuse his behavior but explains it in the context of not being an anti-semite.”

    Have I said, “That the outcry is ridiculous.” No. Have I said, “That being worked up over this means your short-sighted.” No. Do I think these things, no.

    What he said was vile and wrong, he agreed they were vile and wrong, and has apologized and asked both for forgiveness and an opportunity for retribution.

    That sounds like being taken accountable.

    But I DON’T see how a man’s tirade while he is not of sound mind proves that he is an anti-semitic. Points to it? Perhaps, but not close the book definitive.

    We have all been drunk before, but what your saying is that if you called some girl in the bar a whore for no reason or that if you got into a fight with somebody for no reason, that incident would prove without a doubt that you were sexist or a violent maniac.

  25. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Lojo-

    Well, having never called a girl a whore or gotten into a fight when I was drunk, I wouldn’t really know how to relate to that. Most people I know have more common sense than to do something like that when drunk because they would be perceived as sexist or violent. Seems to me you might have some issues with the bottle yourself if you have found yourself doing those things.

  26. Leanna Loomer says:

    There is no such thing as an overstatement in comparison to what Gibson said. Anything I could say would pale next to his hateful (and repeated) statements.

    OF COURSE he apologized. To save a film career, wouldn’t you?

    The police shielded him from his own execrable statements by altering the initial police report of the incident. They saw a need to do that. Could it be they know race hatred when they see it?

    I am thinking so.

  27. Alasdair says:

    Just some thoughts guys …

    Who amongst us doesn’t find himself (herself) consciously NOT permitting prejudices learned in childhood (before we could *know* better) from being expressed in our day-to-day lives ? Whether in spoken ways or other ways ?

    Our childhood shapes us – but doesn’t have to control us permanently IF we choose to work to not allow it to …

    When we become majorly over-stressed or drunk or under the influence of drugs (or when we finally get so old that we start losing more and more recent memories), we tend to revert – and, for a lot of people, the reversion ain’t pretty …

    If you want to write Mel Gibson (or anyone) off so very easily, that’s *your* decision … I’m trying to teach *my* kids that we tend to be human, and that we *can* change old patterns … so I’m more inclined to encourage someone to do his (her) best to change those old ingrained patterns … and I give ’em credit for trying when they try – lest they learn from continuous unrelenting criticism that there’s no point in even trying to change …

    Is it not significantly *more* anti-semitic to act in ways to confirm potential anti-semites in their ways when we *know* better and we could choose (or have chosen) to act differently ourselves ?

    Another related thought …

    Is everyone who ever utters a swear-word automatically foul-mouthed ?

    And an important linguistic point …

    If you turn Jews into soap, you are anti-semitic … if you call an occasional someone who actually is Jewish a “f***ing Jew”, you are rude and may or may not have reason at that moment but it just doesn’t irse to chronic anti-semitism …

    Those who call the latter group anti-semitic devalue the centuries and millennia of suffering that the jewish people have experienced and survived …

  28. Lojo says:

    Angrier –

    “Most people I know have more common sense than to do something like that when drunk…”

    I was under the impression that being drunk meant you were lacking in the common sense area due to the current state of inebriation. You must know some REALLY calm and lucid drunks.

    My point is that using somebody’s statements, while drunk, for one incident, as definitive proof of their belief system and views on other people seems a little hasty. Again, doesn’t excuse his ACTIONS, but I am remain unconvinced whether it speaks towards his principles. Other than having an issue with the bottle, that is.

  29. Lojo says:

    Leanna –

    “OF COURSE he apologized. To save a film career, wouldn’t you?”

    Just curious, sweetie, but what is the criteria for someone to prove their apology to be authentic? Is it a certain combination of words? Certain number of apologies that have to be given?

    Or is it remorseful behavior towards their remarks? Actual repentant actions instead of words? Seriously, what is the criteria?

  30. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Lojo-

    I don’t know what to tell you. Gibson obviously must have thought this through while sober to be making those statements while drunk. It wasn’t like he got mad at one Jewish guy and called him a kike. He condemned all Jewish people for starting wars. That is a little different than punching someone who pisses you off while you are drunk or calling some chick a whore because she turns you down when you are loaded.

  31. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Alasdair-

    You and Lojo seem to have some real problems with controlled substances. Seriously, some guy gets drunk and punches someone, that guy ends up in jail. He could end up being a felon, regardless of if he was drunk or sober.

    You guys seem to be making up excuses for Gibson because he is a conservative. I would condemn Michael Moore if he were in this same situation, as I’m sure you would.

  32. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Alasdair-

    Also, regarding Gibson’s human weakness, I’m not saying he doesn’t have a right to be weak. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t believe The Passion of the Christ is anti-semitic. I think Gibson is a great filmmaker and actor. It is hard for a great man to be good.

    That said, I think he also doesn’t like Jewish people.

  33. Lojo says:

    Angrier –

    I’m not defending his statements. For some reason, you keep thinking I am. But the crime he commited was DUI which, I would hope, is what he will be charged and likely convicted of. What you keep missing is that I disagree with what his tirade proves about him.

    Sure his remarks are different than how other drunk people act only in that his was a hate rant about Jews. It was the same in being stupid drunken behavior. But what your trying to say is that this drunken behavior proves how he is normally, that alcohol is a ‘window to the soul’. Sorry, just not buying that.

    intoxicate: To stupefy or excite by the action of a chemical substance such as alcohol

    As to him thinking through those statements, hell, I’ve read comments like that all over the internet and in news reports. Hell, he’s already been called an anti-semite because of his movie. That doesn’t make them unique or odd.

    And this isn’t because he is a conservative. I wouldn’t seriously think Moore was a anti-semite either if he landed in this position, past obvious jokes.

    I despise Moore, but require more than drunken behavior to prove anything other then someone prone to be drunks. Because alcohol only proves how much someone loves it or not.

    If you want to call it an excuse, that’s your perogative, but there is a reason people are consider IMPAIRED when drunk.

  34. Jazz says:

    Its fascinating the debate back here about Gibson’s

    a) anti-semitism,
    b) repentance, and
    c) capacity to change (if he needs to).

    Its about as clear as it can get (without actually knowing him) that daddy Hutton is an anti-semite. Unlike Angrier, I believe The Passion was undoubtedly anti-semitic.

    Beyond that, do I know HOW anti-semitic Gibson is? Is he Hitler anti-semitic? Or Nixon anti-semitic? Or not at all? Who knows?

    His apology, while appealing: is it sincere? Or well-formulated PR given his (now cancelled) Holocaust special and the high proportion of Jewish folks in Hollywood? Again. Who knows?

    I attribute the speculation on this thread to the rise of the US Weekly era in the United States, and the corresponding belief that we really know what’s going on in K-Fed and Britney’s marriage, cause that picture on page 3 is awfully telling…

  35. uscroger says:

    Well said, A&A
    Just as it is irresponsible for Christians to make the assertion that Jews killed Jesus, it is also irresponsible to say that MG Passion is anti-semitic.
    History prevails and sugarcoating it to accomodate the different sensitive attitudes of other races and religions is not going to cut it.

    What is responsible, however, is realizing that sometimes people say things in the heat of Passion; but, that does not reflect the overall character of the person.

    What’s wrong with having a discerning or discriminating taste?

  36. Lojo says:

    Jazz –

    “c) capacity to change (if he needs to).”

    That’s perturbing. At the very least, he has an issue with alcohol by his own admission and at worst is quite an anti-semitic who is keeping his feelings hidden for fear of his career.

    But anywhere on that scale he might fall, something NEEDS to change. That might be pushing my morality on him but only in a clean & sober manner at the least.

    I do appreciate what your saying, because that’s really what I am coming from in that we don’t know these people and only know from what the reports say.

    As to the rise of the US weekly atmosphere, there is some truth to that, sure. But Mel’s last movie was seen by millions of people. Globally. If a guy with that much influence is an anti-semitie, I think that holds some profound relevance past the K-Fed/Britney/Brangelina/TomKat/J-Blo crowd. Their influence currently ranks around Flavor Flav as far as I’m concerned. BOYEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

  37. 4-7 says:

    when is the last time I celebrity groveled like this ? Yeah, almost never. Gibson could personally resurrect every dead Jew in history and it would not be enough. It won’t be enough because this is not about his comments, idiotic and offensive though they were. This is about hurting Gibson in revenge on the non-anti-semitic “Passion” and about hurting religions associated with Gibson. Abe Foxman is relishing every moment of Gibson’s torment, not because he is a man who seeks to vindicate Jewish rights and respect (maybe on all other days), but only because he hates Gibson over the Passion and this is his sweet revenge.

    Even if “In Vino Veritas” is true in this situation, we are all bad people, but few of us apologize and take total responsibility for our wrongs (even if not perfectly sincere). Nevertheless, Gibson will be denied any opportunity to reform. Why ? Because he was judged guilty long before this incident.

  38. 4-7 says:

    Seriously, all of you relishing in Gibson’s humiliation . . . . Would you be half as giddy, nay 1/64th as giddy, if it were Dave Chappelle on a drunken rant ? Sean Connery ? Kid Rock ? Think of any celebrity not associated with conservative Christian beliefs, and you know you would not be wetting your pants over this story.

    Is it newsworthy ? hell yeah, anyone who makes an ass of themselves while endangering the public and getting sloshed takes what comes, espcially when they have been accused (without reason) before the incident of that particular trait. But people with half an ounce of consideration might stop calling a drunken fool a bigot after two substantial apologies.

    Gibson also had some choice words for a female officer. Is he now a mysoginist ? a womanizer ? a harrasser ?

    How many of you frats out there who get hammered every time there’s an arguable chance to note something on a calendar (i.e. a birthday, graduation, dentist appointment) have behaved perfectly in speech or act regarding other sexes, other races ? Oh please try to deny it, cause I’m sure you’ve NEVER when drunk said ANYTHING negative or laughed at a sexist or racist comment. NEVER ! Not you! Maybe you should be labeled a bigot for the rest of your life, or charged with hate crime.

    If only this were about Mel’s comments. We could scold him and move on. Unfortunately, this is about shoehorning other disagreements into victory lane while a man is on his knees.

  39. Brett says:

    More people have seen The Passion Of The Christ than were in the stadiums listening to Adolf Hitler. You do the math

    Wow, so Mel Gibson is the equivalent of Adolph Hitler. That’s one of the biggest leaps I’ve seen in a long while.

    And to think it only took two comments to reach Godwin’s Law.

  40. Brendan Loy says:

    And to think it only took two comments to reach Godwin’s Law.

    Heh. Good thing my comment counter isn’t sufficiently advanced to recognize Godwin’s Law violations, or it’d be stuck permanently on “Comments (2).”

  41. dcl says:

    I don’t know that I would necessarily qualify as saying Gibson equates to hitlar…

  42. David K. says:

    Did Mel Gibson do something horrible? Yes.
    Should we accept his apology and move on? Yes.

    Why? Well first, this doesn’t appear to be so far a pattern of behavior, it was a one time thing. Second, he offered an apology that not only gave no excuses (just some very valid explanations).

    I am curious though, since it seems that the left-wingers are the ones jumping all over Mel on this one, is anti-semitism (or any racism/bigotry/etc) an unchangeable trait of a person now? Are you transfering the born that way defense from homosexuality to bigotry? Because honest to goodness thats sure as hell what it seems like you are doing.

    “Oh my gosh, he did something wrong, we must treat him like a war criminal!!!!”

    This, coming from the same people who have been complaining about proportional response. Classic, simply classic.

  43. Patrick says:

    Racism is the false belief that one’s own race is superior to another. Dislike of a race does not necessarily equate. Similarly, dislike of Jews does not necessarily mean that one thinks him or herself superior as a non-Jew. So, Brendan, I disagree with you. If “somebody says they dislike Jews” it does not make them anti-semitic necessarily, because one can dislike an ethnic group without thinking it inferior or, as the dictionary states, without harboring “hostility toward or prejudice against Jews or Judaism.” What if one dislikes Jews simply because he or she disagrees with the tenets of their faith? Does that necessarily mean that he or she harbors hostility and prejudice toward Jews? Not by my estimation. We should not be so cavalier about throwing around terms like “anti-semitic” or “racist” without unambiguously defining the terms first.

    Gibson’s reported comments are deplorable and utterly indefensible. They are sweeping, hateful and inaccurate generalizations about Jews…but…do they reflect an inner belief that, as a Gentile, he’s superior to Jews? Based solely on the comments themselves and barring all other considerations, I’m inclined to think so. Regardless, they demonstrate a pronounced hostility and prejudice toward Jews. That’s enough, in my book, for the “anti-Semite” label.

    At the same time, I think there’s more going on here than we’re discussing. As an initial matter, how about the fact that Gibson was severely intoxicated? It’s not unusual for someone to say something while under the influence that is wildly inconsistent with his or her rational beliefs. It is rather apparent that Mel Gibson’s father is anti-Semitic. His sober comments in interviews clearly demonstrate that he is a Holocaust denier with severe hatred of the Jewish people…Mel Gibson was raised by this man. There can be no doubt that his father’s unfortunate hostility toward Jews affected him as a child, and it would not be terribly surprising if he harbors, as a result, some latent, irrational bitterness toward Jews. While his reason (and his faith…whatever it is) tells him that Jews are not inferior human beings, when he divorces reason from his actions and words (i.e. while drunk), his actions and words are reduced to mere impulse…hence, blurting epithets based on an irrational hatred imbued by a coocoo father as a child isn’t too surprising.

    What, pray tell, is my point? Mel Gibson very well may rationally understand that Jews are not an inferior people and understands that he should not harbor hostility or prejudice towards them, but due to his upbringing he may be prone to anti-semitic remarks during moments of irrational weakness.

    Regardless, his words are inexcusable. It’s sad that these beliefs persist in any form – either conscious or unconscious.

  44. Jazz says:

    Patrick,

    Solid effort just above. To your observation that he was intoxicated, I believe that you have to add the instantaneous fear that his livelihood might soon be ruined by a felony conviction.

    Has anyone in this esteemed community ever done something, or been accidentally somewhere, where it seemed for a moment like a situation might lead to catastrophic consequences for you?

    If so, were you drunk at the time?

    I’m reminded now of the penultimate lines of the great Rudyard Kipling poem “If” that makes its way into every graduation card:

    If you can fill the unforgiving minute,
    With 60 seconds worth of distance run

    No mention in the Kipling poem of doing so while hammered.

    If I had to vote I’d go with Stan that Gibson is “f***ing crazy, dude!”

    But this specific incident is inconclusive.

  45. Alasdair says:

    A&A – by all means, nail his sorry butt for being DUI … open-and-shut …

    Just don’t turn anti-semitic into yet another watered-down term like racist used whenever someone can’t think of anything better as a rhetorical response …

    Try reading my words, and you will eventially realise that I’m not defending him – merely pointing out that all this anguished piling-on ain’t exactly dignified …

    What was that about “Let that person who is without sin cast the first stone ! NO, Mother, don’t *you* dare … !” …

  46. David Ross says:

    I’m wondering if Mel Gibson is a richer version of Naveed Haq (Seattle shooter). They don’t want to be Jew haters, but their upbringing keeps screwing them up.

    Gibson’s first apology was Clintonian – even Cartmanesque (I read it as “I’m sorry I called you a Jew”). But, no-one bought it, which is why he’s apologising more carefully this time ’round.

    This latest apology is so clear that to disbelieve it, you’d have to accuse Gibson of being a liar. That is something that we cannot do unless we look into his heart.

    I suspect he’s split on that issue. His upbringing (read: his dad) tells him that Jews are evil. But he fears and loathes that part of him. Note the scene in Braveheart when Robert Bruce tells his own father, “my hate will die with you”.

  47. Leanna Loomer says:

    The one anti-Semite I have personally known (so far) was a friend of 10 years. When I became a Jew, he told never to contact him again or he would “hurt” me. He wasn’t Hitler. He wasn’t drunk. He grew up on a remote island off the coast of New Zealand and there were no Jews anywhere around.

    Anti-Semitism takes many forms. I don’t like to get into online debates over things like racial prejudice, but I’m a Jew now, and it is my duty to not remain silent.

    Lojo, you may call me Leanna, Kineret (my Hebrew name), or Khaye (my Yiddish name). But don’t call me sweetie.

  48. Brendan Loy says:

    “…but you doesn’t have to call me Johnson!”

  49. Mindsurfer says:

    David K. said: “…since it seems that the left-wingers are the ones jumping all over Mel on this one�
    Interesting observation David.
    Does this reveal something about the left? Do they protest too much?
    The left often seem more eager to condemn Israel than Israel’s enemies in the middle east. Therefore, are they more anti-Semitic than Mel?

    Or, as Christians are underrepresented on the left, is this just an opportunity for some anti-Christian bigotry. And, payback for Gibson’s success with the “The Passion� as 4-7 said.

    Both?

    I try to admire actors for their acting skills and ignore their political ranting, drunk or sober.

  50. Lojo says:

    Leanna –

    My apologies. Was it too familiar of me to call you sweetie?

  51. Andrew says:

    For once in my life, I have to totally agree with a Patrick comment. Solid work there, boy-o. I don’t think Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite, I just think he grew up in a household that was, and though he rationally rejects the anti-Semitism of the environment he grew up in, inebriation has a tendency to bring things out of deep, dark places.

    As an example, imagine you grew up in post-segregation Alabama and your father’s biggest regret was that he never joined the Klan, and all throughout your childhood you heard his angry rants of nigger-this and nigger-that. Also imagine that you categorically reject such thinking, made a conscious effort as a kid to befriend black kids and defend their honor against racists, and even went on to marry a black girl. How much do you want to bet that, in your first alcohol-induced fight, you start yelling at her with almost the exact same kind of language you grew up hearing from your father? If your marriage survives that, you might very well decide to never ever pick up the bottle again, but at a minimum you’ll realize that you have absolutely no control over what your parents programmed into your brain, and things like drugs and alcohol have a tendency to release those hidden, dark things we all try to bury.

    I can totally understand Mel in this situation, as he tries to reject his father’s thinking but continue to love and defend his dad, then gets drunk and angry and the worst of his father gets channeled through him. Such is how human beings are, especially when consuming mood-altering substances like alcohol.

    Leanna and Jazz, how in the world do you conclude that Passion is anti-Semitic? It was overly violent and not as historically accurate as it could’ve been, but not anti-Semitic.

    According to the biblical texts, technically the Jews killed their messiah. Historically the Sanhedrin had the power to exact capital punishment, but when the Romans were in power, they lost that authority to the state. But it was certainly the Sanhedrin’s intent to have Jesus disposed of, which is why they brought him to Pilate. Actually, the Jews rejected and committed violence against many of their own revered prophets. Nevertheless, the Jews are still the Chosen People, as God’s promises are eternal. The Christian message is still that Jesus’ death was intended for all of humanity. What is anti-Semitic is the belief that the Jews’ rejection of their messiah is more of a sin than any non-Jew atheist or pagan. But the sin of men is ultimately for God to judge.

    In sum, Nixon was a bigot and anti-Semite; Mel Gibson and his Passion are not anti-Semitic.

  52. Jazz says:

    Andrew,

    Regarding your question about why I call the Passion anti-semitic:

    Much credit to you for alluding to the gospels passages which I agree *seem* to blame the Jews. I don’t have a bible in front of me, but if someone takes up the argument, perhaps I would point out later where the gospels make Pilate seem like a recalcitrant killer of Christ.

    At the risk of opening myself to heaping scorn, especially since I don’t have the text in front of me right now, and cannot easily cite credible authorities –

    – those retellings strike me as odd. If you charge me with being selectively critical, I am certainly guilty; but I am suspicious of the context of those passages.

    After all, the gospels are committed to text circa 70 AD, around the time of the Masada, the destruction of the Jewish temple (and nation), the permanent establishment of Roman occupation.

    In attributing the cause of Jesus’ death to the Sanhedrin, were the writers kicking a dead horse? Was it easier to focus the blame on the Sanhedrin, who had been/would soon be destroyed, vs. the Romans, who had full authority over the lives of the Jews? Maybe.

    I only saw the Passion once, but there are two main pieces of evidence for anti-semitism:

    1) The fervor of the trial of Jesus in front of the Sanhedrin. Seemed to me that scene crossed the line into excessive bloodlust – as if the Sanhedrin knew Jesus was an exalted prophet and wished him dead anyway.

    I think its much more likely that if the Sanhedrin knew who Jesus truly was, they would have treated Him differently. As it is, they probably thought he was just a troublemaker, and more than likely rubberstamped their desire to get rid of him.

    2) The scene in the courtyard where a befuddled Pilate is conned into killing Jesus by the Sanhedrin. As I, and Max, have argued earlier, Pilate needed no such goading – he had plenty of his own motivation.

    In conclusion, I would never argue against the Sanhedrin wanting to get rid of Jesus. Surely that was the case.

    All I’m suggesting is: so did Pilate, and the Nicene Creed tells us quite clearly which of the two (Pilate v. Sanhedrin) pulled off the act.

  53. Brenda says:

    What is scarey about the Mel Gibson issue is the infuence he has as a major movie star. Also where did that comment come from? Why make the comment at all? We live in a new world where we are all acutely aware of the damage that hate can cause. I respect his apology, but at the same time I will never go see anything associated with him again. I hope he does reform and etc but really is doubtful in my mind that he will. Just some thoughts…

  54. Patrick says:

    Jazz,

    The Nicene Creed says that Jesus “was crucified under Pontius Pilate”, not by Pontius Pilate. Big difference.

    Surely Pilate bore some temporal responsibility for the crucifixion, but that in no way mitigates the equal, if not proportionately greater, responsibility of the Sanhedrin. Ultimately, its all a moot point. Jesus died for the sins of all. Accordingly, we all share equally in the non-temporal responsibility for Jesus’ death.

    For what it’s worth, Chruch tradition (with a small “t”) has suggested that Pilate ultimately repented and became a Christian. This is not official Roman Catholic tradition, however, and therefore does not qualify as Church teaching. However, the Ethiopian Coptic Church (a branch of Eastern Christianity) first included Pontius Pilate in its cannon of saints in the 6th century based on tradition and apocryphal writings which strongly indicated that he did become a Christian.

    The same certainly cannot be said of the members of the Sanhedrin. But again, this absolutely does not place any responsibility on the Jewish people for the death of Jesus.

  55. Andrew says:

    Interesting, Patrick. Thanks again for the good comment.

    Jazz, read the book, Misquoting Jesus sometime, and you’ll see that, yes, there is very good evidence in the Greek manuscripts that the texts were altered slightly in some versions of the gospels in the direction of being contra the Jews. And even more important than the destruction of the temple and Masada, however, is the context that at the time these gospels were written, with the influx of Gentiles into Christianity, there was a burgeoning cultural crisis in the Jewish and Christian communities as these early Christians attempted to understand to what extent Christianity was Jewish and to what extent it was not. To a large degree, even though Jesus was obviously Orthodox Jewish (using today’s terminology) in his practices, and even though the founding members of the church (such as Paul and Peter) were also all observant Jews both before and after their conversion, the influx of former pagans into the church led to an increasing amount of distrust and division with the Jews of the time such that Christianity went from being considered a sect of Judaism to its own entire religion.

    With that background, the fact remains that, in the gospels, the rabbinical authorities (the Sanhedrin) were the ones who instigated the crucifixion of Jesus. The writers of the gospels were not “kicking a dead horse” or being puppets for Rome, they were merely describing what actually happened. And there is little reason to not believe the text, as absolutely, the things that Jesus said and did were entirely offensive to the Pharisaic understanding of Judaism at the time. Modern-day Jewish scholars will acknowledge that Jesus was a great rabbi, but they will also acknowledge that the doctrines and challenges he posted to his contemporaries were fairly radical and strong given the context. Thus, the account of the Sanhedrin bringing Jesus before Pilate is entirely believable and fits perfectly with what modern scholars understand about Judaism of the time.

    The fervor of the trial of Jesus in front of the Sanhedrin. Seemed to me that scene crossed the line into excessive bloodlust – as if the Sanhedrin knew Jesus was an exalted prophet and wished him dead anyway.

    The entire movie reeked of excessive bloodlust, Jazz. As for the Sanhedrin, though, they may not have recognized Jesus as an exalted prophet, but they well understood that he was gaining popularity in the countryside and was directly challenging their religious authority and doctrines.

    I think its much more likely that if the Sanhedrin knew who Jesus truly was, they would have treated Him differently.

    Um, duh? I mean, if the Sanhedrin knew who Jesus truly was, there would be no Jews today–we’d all be Christians and Jesus would be here right now ruling Earth.

    As for Pilate, whether he was conned, befuddled, or truly had his own motivation to kill Jesus is largely irrelevant. As Patrick points out, “Surely Pilate bore some temporal responsibility for the crucifixion, but that in no way mitigates the equal, if not proportionately greater, responsibility of the Sanhedrin.”

  56. Jazz says:

    Andrew,

    Not sure it is immediately obvious the Sanhedrin would behave differently if they “knew who Jesus was”. One would hope they would, but two important considerations –

    1) Jesus’ status as God incarnate was not settled until Nicea; great and holy fathers of the church (most notably Origen) argued for Jesus to be in the “great prophet, but not divine” category.

    2) Speaking of “great prophets, not divine”, John the Baptist was beheaded by King Herod in spite of Herod’s view that John was a great prophet. Sometimes, bureaucracy trumps faith, as it did for Herod and might have for the Sanhedrin.

    But I split hairs.

    Patrick, it strikes me that the difference between “crucified under” and “crucified by” is probably semantic, especially when you throw in the vagaries of translation. I am not any sort of linguistic scholar and thus can take this no further than to say the difference doesn’t sound like much to me.

    To this effective argument, however – Pilate effectively crucified Jesus, but he would not have known of Jesus were it not for the scheming of the Sanhedrin to bring Jesus before Pilate.

    That’s an excellent argument if one were inclined to play the blame game.

    The best I can do in reply is:

    (repeating a comment from above) – all four gospels agree that Pilate’s first question of Jesus was “Are you the king of the Jews”?

    I might imagine the Sanhedrin would be loth to present Jesus to Pilate with such a title, thereby implying that Pilate might have heard it elsewhere and had his own motives for killing Jesus.

    But I’m out on a longer limb than usual on this one. You might be right.

    Finally, as far as the anti-semitism of the Passion: stuff like that is ultimately in the eye of the beholder.

    While I acknowledge Andrew’s counterarguments, each person will decide for themselves whether the film is offensive to Jews or not.

  57. David K. says:

    To all those who are so intent on roasting Mel over the coals, I have to ask you but one question.

    Have you never, in your life, said something which you may have believed at least partly, and after saying it realized that it was wrong and hurtful?

    No one should ignore what he did, certainly, but he has done quite a bit it seems to try and make ammends. What else would you have him do? If apologizing and trying to make things right aren’t what you want, do you think instead he should just embrace his anti-semitism and continue to expand it or something?!?!?

  58. Lojo says:

    David –

    I mostly agree with you. One thing though is I can completely understand, if not agree, if people are trepidatious or cautious about accepting Mel’s apology. If they say, “Well, let’s see if goes ahead and starts making amends that shows he’s contrite,” I can respect that.

    But like I alluded to before, the outright dismissal of his two apologies because they are ‘obviously’ PR stunt is silly. There is nothing to say his apologies are not authentic, but if someone says they’re not, fine.

    “What is the criteria for someone to prove their apology to be authentic? Is it a certain combination of words? Certain number of apologies that have to be given?

    Or is it remorseful behavior towards their remarks? Actual repentant actions instead of words? Seriously, what is the criteria?”

  59. Alasdair says:

    Lojo – repeat after me (after you apologise for the anti-semantic violence you have done to the English language) …

    What is the criterion ?

    What are the criteria ?

    I know that this distinction, as with many aspects of English, is all Greek to many … this being the blog of the erudite Brendan, however, we must all strive to be better !

  60. Patrick says:

    Jazz,

    By what standard does one qualify as a “great and holy father” of the Church or of Christianity generally? I am loathe to accept that anyone who denies the divinity of Christ is a “great and holy father” of Christianity. Rather, I’d call him a heretic, and that’s not just a knee-jerk reaction. I base this on the Council of Nicea, the consistent writings of Early Church Fathers, and on basic reason.

    If Jesus was a “great prophet” but not “divine”, He was also an unscrupulous liar. By consistently claiming to be God Incarnate, he would have been misleading not only his apostles, but also the apostles and disciples of the His Church that followed. That does not seem like standard behavior for a “great prophet.”

    As evidenced by the writings of the Early Church Fathers, denial of Christ’s divinity, from the inception of Christianity, has been considered a heresy. Although you argue to the contrary, Origen did NOT deny the divinity of Christ: “Although he was God, He took flesh; and having been made man, He remained what He was: God” (Origen, The Fundamental Doctrines 1:0:4 [A.D. 225])

    You state that “Jesus’ status as God incarnate was not settled until Nicea”. This statement distorts the historical experience of the early Church. As is reflected in the writings of the Early Church Fathers, including Origen, heresies were addressed on a case by case basis, as they arose. This practice continues today.

    Contrary to what your statement implies, the Church was not riddled with debate over the divinity of Christ before the 4th century. Rather, there was acceptance of the divinity of Christ throughout Christendom. The notion that Christ is not divine and that the Father and Son are not co-eternal was first advanced by Arius (hence the apellation “Arianism”), a priest who taught in Alexandria and Egypt. After his teachings gathered steam, the First Council of Nicea (the Church’s first ecumenical council) was convened in 325 A.D. by Roman Emperor Constantine I, the same Constantine responsible for the Edict of Milan, the defeat of Licinius, and the sanctioning of Christianity as the official religion of the Empire. Through the Council, Arianism was officially condemned.

    Prior to Nicea, ecumenical councils were not feasible. Christians were subjected to intense persecution and the Church lacked the luxuries of modern communication and transportation. Accordingly, the Church neither had the capacity to print a Catechism nor widely disseminate blanket teachings. Instead, heresies had to be addressed by localized synods. In so doing, the Church relied on the Grace of the Holy Spirit to safeguard Truth, as promised by Matthew 16. Nicea was convened, and Arianism was rejected by all but two of the 300+ attendees. Throughout the Church, the idea of Christ’s divinity was not truly in dispute, and it never had been. Arians were a small sect in Alexandria and Egypt. To argue that the issue was unsettled in Christendom is a historical fiction. For clarification, be sure to check the writings of Early Church Fathers, all of whom were unambiguous in their defense of the divinity of Christ, including Ignatius of Antioch, Aristides, Tatian the Syrian, Melito of Sardis, Irenaeus, Clement, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian, Gregory, Arnobius, Lactantius, and…Origen.

  61. Bea says:

    Patrick, can you direct me to reading material that backs up what you’re saying about the early church and the widespread acceptance of this or that prior to Nicea? I am not as familiar the subject, but would like to read about it (I am looking more for a secondary source, not the handmedown copies of original works, atleast not yet, because I will have a hard time understanding probably. I am rookie, so I need some secondary source background to really understand). I am currently reading “Misquoting Jesus” by Bart Ehrman and find it very interesting. Makes me want to go read the English translation of the early greek new testament. Some of the points raised by you and others are also addressed in the book, and while I am inclined to agree with the book’s conclusions, I am no expert on the matter, and would like to hear what critics or supporters of Ehram’s work/argument have to say.

  62. Jazz says:

    Patrick –

    Man, you’re a tough blog editor. Note to self to be more careful about contributions to parenthetical asides – edit. carefully.

    Of course you are quite right that I casually referred to Origen where I quite clearly meant Arius. I will make a good faith effort to scrutinize all future postings back here with the care I devoted to my Master’s Thesis!

    You were certainly correct to note that the overwhelming majority of bishops agreed to the final terminology, but the issue was far from as settled as you make it seem.

    Indeed, the casual reader of this thread could probably infer as much, since it would be strange that a conclusion as famous as the defeat of Arianism at Nicea would in fact be a foregone one, which is what you have argued.

    As you most certainly know, the terminology that defeated Arianism (of one substance, e.g. God and Jesus) was not far from Arius’ proposal (of similar substance), which further diminishes your argument that the overwhelming majority of Christendom was far from sympathetic to Arianism.

    In fact, the terminology of the Nicene Creed, of one substance, comes to us from none other than Constantine himself.

    Who, as it turns out, himself drifted back to Arianism later in life.

    All in all, a story nowhere near as clear cut as you have characterized it.

  63. Patrick says:

    Bea,

    My first recommendation for someone looking for an accessible dissection of the works of Early Christian Fathers would be “Four Witnesses” by Rod Bennett. He presents the main thrust of the writings of Clement, Irenaeus, Ignatius of Antioch, and Justin Martyr. I should warn you, however, that the book has a distinct Catholic slant. The author is a Protestant convert to Catholicism who makes no effort to hide his zeal for Catholicism (With writings concerning the Early Church, however, a Catholic slant tends to be a given, though not always). Four Witnesses, again, is very accessible and great for someone who’s just trying to scratch the surface – not someone who wants in-depth, detailed scholarship.

    I’ll dig through my copy and look for some of the more scholarly sources that Bennett cites that might be more helpful. Also, I know that you’re not looking for direct English translations, but they’re all online if you’re interested: http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/

  64. Bea says:

    Thanks Patrick. I know everything I read is going to have a slant, and part of what I want to learn about is those slants and why the are so. That is why I enhoy this book on the history of how the bible got put together, how translations were altered, etc. Despite my disagreemtns with Catholic teachings (or perhaps because of them) and my limited knowledge of the bible, I have always found the topic fascinating, much like I find Plato’s Republic and other early philosophical writtings fascinating.

  65. Andrew says:

    A side note about Arianism: This particular heresy never did quite get extinguished, and it remained a consistent problem in North Africa and the Middle East. Many scholars speculate that its theological doctrines paved the way for Islam’s rapid conquest and conversion of the region.