In defense of Mel Gibson, right-wing nutjob James Dobson says this:
Mel has apologized profusely for the incident and there the matter should rest. Mel has also indicated his willingness to seek help to overcome his alcoholism and has asked the Jewish community for forgiveness. What more can he do?
With all due respect to Dobson: Wrong, sir, wrong!
First, the matter should not rest. The matter is a matter because it matters. Public discussion of Gibson's drunken conniption has people talking about important issues: anti-Semitism, drunken driving, sexism, alcoholism and favoritism in police treatment of the rich and famous. Even if Dobson forgives Gibson, he shouldn't call for the matter to be laid to rest-because the matter is not just a matter of pity for poor, drunken-driving, Jew-hating, arrest-resisting, power-mongering Mel.
True, Dobson is accurate in reporting that Gibson has reached out to the Jewish community for forgiveness. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, has even graciously offered to help Mel after he gets finished with rehab. But by not owning up to his anti-Semitism, doesn't Gibson's reaching out look a little bit like a desperate effort at damage control? And if Gibson is really about to begin this transformation into a decent person, the matter is the opposite of ready for a rest-it's just starting to matter.
Second, Dobson asks, "What more can he do?" Lots, Jim. Let me share with you some of the suggestions from my fellow Jews, as reported by Jocelyn Noveck of the Associated Press, and then I'll respond to each suggestion and offer one of my own before I get in the car and drive (sober) to L.A. for a good bagel from Brooklyn Bagel at 2217 Beverly Blvd. (Mel Gibson doesn't know how lucky he is to be surrounded by Jews!):
Joy Behar on The View suggests a public circumcision.
Nice idea but too close to Passion of the Christ not to seem like a sequel.
New York's Museum of Jewish Heritage Director David Marwell suggests a visit to the museum.
Not bad. Gibson could learn Jewish history from someone other than his father, the holocaust denier, and even meet with some holocaust survivors who work at the museum. But it's not likely to help that much. He could just suck it up and "act" sympathetic for an afternoon. I agree with Marwell that it'd be a good first stop on his road to recovery, but it will take more than one stop on that road for this hate-fueled road warrior to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Susan Estrich of Fox News suggests Gibson visit the Holocaust Museum.
Another valuable stop on the road, but I'm concerned that folks are putting too much stock in the power of museums here. Nobody is suggesting he visit a museum to address his alcoholism. Hey, that'd be a cool museum. Mangled cars, diseased livers, ruined relationships. Let's call it The DUI Traffic School Museum.
Beverly Hills Rabbi David Baron of the Temple of the Arts has invited Gibson to speak on Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar, the day of atonement.
This is a really bad idea. Most Jews dislike Yom Kippur. It's a depressing holiday. Gibson could become extremely nervous and bored at a Yom Kippur service and wind up disliking Judaism even more. And nothing wrecks a Jewish holiday for the congregation than Mel Gibson showing up and apologizing. If he must attend a Jewish event, let it be a Bat Mitsvah. How can you hate a 13-year-old girl with braces trying to read in Hebrew? And the wine and Hava Nagila and all that? So much fun! Oops. Maybe just grape juice for Mel.
Adam Hanft, writing on the Huffington blog, suggests that Gibson could perform community service, with "three months acting as a tour guide-along with his father-at Auschwitz, where they will take visitors through the concentration camp, paying special attention to the spa, fitness and aromatherapy center and breakfast buffet areas."
Another museum idea! At least this one is three months long. And it certainly wouldn't hurt for the Gibsons to get a taste of that Auschwitz good life. But Mel might let his father do all the thinking and work. No. Not even a gig at Auschwitz is the right solution for Mel.
The last suggestion to consider is Al Franken's. On his Air America radio program, he suggested that Gibson start his career all over again, taking bit parts in movies. Franken imagines it like this: "Watching the dailies, a producer might say, "Hey, that busboy who said, "You dropped your napkin, sir"-he's pretty good.' Then the director will say, "Of course, he's good. That's Mel Gibson.'"
I like this idea best, but I'm worried we'd have to endure another Mel Gibson rise to stardom. I couldn't bear a "What Women Want II."
I hate to seem less than humble, but my idea is better. I think Mel Gibson should go away. No more movies. No more public attention. The guy has millions and millions of dollars. He should pack up his family and move somewhere quiet. Do some community-service work on the down-low for a Jewish organization.
After all, in Wensley Clarkson's book, Mel Gibson: Living Dangerously, Mel said that "Hollywood is a factory. You have to realize that you are working in a factory and you're part of the mechanism. If you break down, you'll be replaced," and "My family means more to me than the artificial trappings of my career. If ever I had to choose between my career and my family, the wife and kids would definitely come out on top."
Mel has broken down. He should be replaced. Time to chuck show business and go make amends to his family. It's not that anything less would be inadequate in demonstrating regret for his pathetic behavior; it's that living a completely different life, out of the public eye and away from the artificial trappings of his career, would show that he really means it.
That's right, James Dobson. No "Passion of the Christ II." No second coming of Mel Gibson. You're his friend and an alleged psychologist. Make Mel go away and we Jews will let the matter rest.
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