(Cross-posted at The American Street)
As a man not entirely unaccustomed to a snort or two, I have to admit to a twinge of sympathy for Mel Gibson. I've never been arrested for anything, I'm glad to say -- despite some deserving efforts on my part -- so I can't credibly speculate about the mental stresses one undergoes when John Law shines a flashlight in one's bleary eyes and intones, in that condescending way they have, "Do you know why I pulled you over, sir?" when one has an undisguisably self-evident snootful.
I imagine the stress is great indeed. Gibson's blood-alcohol level was 0.12%, as reported by TMZ.com (the legal limit in California, where Gibson was arrested Friday, is 0.08%). According to a handy online calculator provided by the University of Oklahoma Campus Police, a 180-pound man would have to drink seven imported beers over a period of two hours to achieve Gibson's Blood Alcohol Count (BAC). (Or six malt liquors, seven glasses of wine, seven Bloody Marys, five vodka gimlets, or four doubles on the rocks -- it's an instructive little toy.)
By his own admission, Gibson is a recovering alcoholic who fell off the wagon on Friday night. People with his condition are notoriously unable to hold their liquor -- I've known a few, and they're no fun at all to drink with -- or even just be around. They're liable to say and do things they will have to apologize for the next day.
Indeed, Gibson has apologized for raving -- on videotape, apparently -- that Jews "are responsible for all the wars in the world," and for demanding of the arresting deputy, "Are you a Jew?" In his apology he said that he had "said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable."
It is important to establish the context of Gibson's revolting babbling. TMZ.com has published the arresting deputy's report (PDF). It's poorly scanned and difficult to read, but the gist is clear enough. The topic of Judaism and its putative responsibility for world unrest was not brought up by the arresting deputy as he clapped the darbys on his collar; the subject was raised for discussion by Gibson himself. He was not responding to something said to him. He thunk it up all by himself.
No matter what your past history with it, it's highly unlikely that booze will make you raise a point, ex nihilo, as Gibson did, unless the idea was simmering just below the surface, waiting for its moment to appear. The distress of being arrested and publicly humiliated for drunken decisions seems to have been that moment.
My ineluctable conclusion is that Mel Gibson, despite his repeated protestations to the contrary, is a demonstrated anti-Semite. In nearly any other case this would simply be sad, an occasion to tut-tut urbanely about hating the sin and not the sinner. But for the author of The Passion of the Christ, all that effort put into convincing the MegaChurched that they were being bussed to theaters to watch a movie that was not conceived in the libel that the Jews killed Christ, has been destroyed beyond repair.
For this, I have no sympathy whatever.