The following is the complete text of Mel Gibson’s statement regarding his arrest for investigation of driving under the influence of alcohol:
“After drinking alcohol on Thursday night, I did a number of things that were very wrong and for which I am ashamed. I drove a car when I should not have, and was stopped by the L.A. County sheriff’s. The arresting officer was just doing his job and I feel fortunate that I was apprehended before I caused injury to any other person.
“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 of everything I said and I apologize to anyone who I have offended.
“Also, I take this opportunity to apologize to the deputies involved for my belligerent behavior. They have always been there for me in my community and indeed probably saved me from myself. I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry.
“I have battled the disease of alcoholism for all of my adult life and profoundly regret my horrific relapse. I apologize for any behavior unbecoming of me in my inebriated state and have already taken necessary steps to ensure my return to health.”
Of course, there are a couple of things that still need saying.
Mel’s not stupid. He knows what he said and he knows people heard him (I wonder if it was even recorded). He also knows that saying what he said about Jewish people is unacceptable to the vast majority of people. He knows he can’t say that and not apologize for it. (Of course, he still hasn’t apologized for bigoted remarks about gay people, and probably doesn’t need to as far as many people are concerned, which tells you something about the remaining acceptable prejudices in this country.)
He knows he not only has to apologize, but to disavow what he said. But does he believe it? That’s something only Mel can know, but I fall back on the saying from my previous post: a drunk man speaks a sober mind. If he’s unabashedly bigoted against one group, he’s probably bigoted against others too, because rarely is that kind of hatred narrowly focused on just one group. Scratch a homophobe and chances are you’ll find a racist, an anti-semite, a misogynist, or some combination thereof.
Then there are people like this guy, breaking out the violin for old Mel (and completely ignoring Mel’s anti-semitic statements, I might add).
When you’re a conservative – or even suspected of being one – the rules change. Robert Downey Jr. was known as “poor Robert Downey Jr.” after his many battles with drugs. There are literally a ton of other examples.
Gibson screwed up big time, and he’ll be the first to admit that, but if he comes forward and perhaps admits a problem, he’ll not be called “courageous,” but rather “hypocritical.” This is the tough thing about being right of center.
As conservatives, we preach personal responsibility and accountability. When we screw up, there’s nobody to blame it on, and we’re automatically hypocrites for not practicing what we preach.
It takes guts to be a conservative, because we know going in that nobody’s perfect, including ourselves. It would be so easy to be a liberal. When we got into trouble we could just blame the stress of the times or the fact that we’re suffering from a “disease.” We conservatives have no such out, and wouldn’t be allowed one if we tried (without converting to liberalism), as Mel Gibson’s about to discover.
When you think about it though, being expected to live up to a higher standard is a compliment. Who wants to be part of a philosophy where the expectation of screw-ups, failure, and excuses for both when they happen is the norm? The answer is: apparently, way too many people.
Um, where to begin? First of all, Mel does have a disease, pretty much the same one as Robert Downey Jr., and one I’m acquainted with quite well (14 years sober as of this month). It’s not being an alcoholic that makes Mel a hypocrite.
The hypocrisy comes into play when conservatives hold themselves up as the moral betters of the rest of us, fit to sit in judgement on the rest of us, legislate their morality on the rest of us, and be punitive towards the rest of us when we fall short of their standards. The hypocrisy comes from the drive to excoriate and discriminate against some of us even when we are trying to behave responsibly.
It’s easy to sit in judgement of people. It takes guts to look at others and see one’s self, warts and all, and to act with compassion. (And, no, compassion doesn’t mean “letting them off.”) It would be easy to demonize other people and hold oneself above and apart from them. It would be easy to look at other people and see their suffering as not that different from your own. Some of us have no such out and wouldn’t be allowed one (without converting to conservatism), but Mel Gibson will likely get one.
When you think about it, expecting others to live up to a higher standard than yourself is an insult, but only to yourself. Who would raise themselves so far above the rest of humanity as to have an especially hard fall when they inevitably fail, screw-up, and expect to have their excuses explanations for such accepted? The answer is: apparently, way too many people.