How to Apologize ... Mostly

Mel Gibson’s second apology is, for the most part, a model for celebrity contrition. It does not obfuscate. It does not fail to admit the sin. It does not blame booze. Best of all, it does not implicitly fault those who were wronged (“I apologize to all those who [are so fucking stupid that they] might have been offended ... ”). Instead, he owns up:

“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.”

Mel does strike a wrong note, however, in this carefully crafted sequence, which is one of the more clever non sequiturs I’ve ever read:

“[P]lease know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.”

Notice how the last sentence seems intended as evidence for the previous two. But it does not follow. One of the basic concepts of Christianity is that all people are sinners, and although hatred goes against Mel’s faith, that does not mean he is not an anti-Semite.

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