Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Untenable Position

Mel Gibson back in the news after his arrest for drunken driving during which it has been reported that he made misogynistic and anti-Semitic comments.  In vino veritas is an old Latin epigram that suggests when one is in one's cups, the mask that we present to the world is stripped away, and our true characters are revealed.  While that may be true for normal drinkers, pathological drinkers are different.

As a person familiar with the disease of alcoholism, I know that the disease of alcoholism has a physical, emotional, and spiritual cost.  People say and do things contrary to their value system.  Alcohol is a spirit--and imbibing it fills one with a spirit other than one's own. 

Those of you familiar with my antipathy for Mel's movie, The Passion of the Christ, may wonder if this is a defense of Mel.  While I despise most things Mel, he's still a very interesting person.  People who allow their psychological problems to influence their public lives--strike that--people who are powerless to prevent their psychological problems from influencing their public lives invariably are. 

Be that as it may, Jews were on Mel's mind when he was pulled over in Malibu.  He didn't lash out at Native Americans, or Japanese businessmen, or muslims (or elves, dwarves or hobbits).  Those who suspect that there is something defective in Mel's character can put their minds at ease.  If he's an alcoholic, which he professes to be, character defects are part of the package.  While it may be true that alcoholism causes one to act contrary to their value systems, it may also be true that the part of the situation contrary to Mel's values was the driving while drunk and the speaking of his mind, not the substance of what he said.

However, there's also something defective in my character if I can love Wagner who was also a virulent anti-Semite, and hold it against Mel.  That indicates a certain schadenfreude on my part that disgusts me.

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