Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mel Gibson DUI Arrest Police Reports and Apology

This past Friday, July 29, 2006, Hollywood megastar and Oscar winning director Mel Gibson, 50, was pulled over on the PCH by a police officer, allegedly driving his Lexus 87 mph in a 45 mph zone, while under the influence. His blood alcohol content was over the legal limit. To make matters worse, Gibson allegedly went into a bigoted and Anti-Semitic tirade against the officer. Gibson was arrested and booked. A parody arrest report issued by the Greater Thunderdome County Police Department can be view HERE in Adobe PDF format. Compare it for the real report below.

A copy of the narrative from the real arrest report can be viewed
HERE in Adobe PDF format. In the narrative, Gibson allegedly "attempted to escape arrest." Gibson allegedly sought revenge for his arrest, stating: "I'm going to f--k you. You're going to regret you ever did this to me." He also threatened to "get even" with the officer, claiming that he "owned Malibu."

Gibson allegedly stated: "My life is f--ked." Gibson also allegedly called the officer a "mother f--ker." Although not perhaps the wisest choice of words given his circumstances, profanity is fully protected by the First Amendment. In the Supreme Court case of Gooding v. Wilson, 405 U.S. 518 (1972), the words "White son of a bitch, I'll kill you" to a police officer by a young man was protected. The judges in Papish v. Board of Curators of the University of Missouri, 410 U.S. 667 (1973) ruled that the headline in a student newspaper that declared "Motherf--ker Acquitted" was protected and the court ordered reinstatement of the journalism student who published this phrase.

Anti-Semitic ranting that "induces a condition of unrest" and "even stirs people to anger is also protected by the First Amendment as set forth in the case Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949). Gibson allegedly exercised this free speech clause when he "blurted out a barrage of anti-semitic remarks about 'f--king Jews'." He blamed Jews for "all the war in this world" and asked the officer if he was Jewish. The officer wrote that Gibson's "conduct concerned and frightened me to a point." Given that the officer was most likely armed with a weapon and Gibson was restrained in handcuffs and quite intoxicated, I doubt Gibson would have been capable of acting on his threats.

Yesterday, ABC unsurprisingly announced that it would no longer produce Gibson's proposed Holocaust miniseries. Gibson has a history of problems with alcoholism and a prior charge of drunk driving. Although in recovery since 1991, he blames his relapse for his behavior and statements. While many will continue to be fans of his films such as Braveheart, Mad Max, Lethal Weapon and perhaps his forthcoming Apocalypto, others will take measures to distance themselves from him or otherwise renounce him. Gibson plans to enter rehab and make amends for his wrongs to both the Jewish community and to his family.

Having worked with Mel Gibson on the film "Conspiracy Theory," I admire his professionalism and talent as an actor. However, being Jewish, I was very disappointed by his alleged comments against Jews, now confirmed by his own apology below.

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.

I am a public person, and when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. As a result, I must assume personal responsibility for my words and apologize directly to those who have been hurt and offended by those words.

The tenets of what I profess to believe necessitate that I exercise charity and tolerance as a way of life. Every human being is God’s child, and if I wish to honor my God I have to honor his children. But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.

I’m not just asking for forgiveness. I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one on one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing.

I have begun an ongoing program of recovery and what I am now realizing is that I cannot do it alone. I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery. Again, I am reaching out to the Jewish community for its help. I know there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed.

This is not about a film. Nor is it about artistic license. This is about real life and recognizing the consequences hurtful words can have. It’s about existing in harmony in a world that seems to have gone mad.

Hopefully, Gibson will finally admit that he is powerless over alcohol and that his life has become unmanageable. Having overcome that first hurdle, he will take steps to look at the root of his Anti-Semitism and take active steps to make amends to those he has harmed. I, for one, am willing to forgive him for his drunken tirade. Even the
Anti-Defamation League (founded in 1913 to combat Anti-Semitism) accepted Gibson's apology. The ADL's National Director, Abraham H. Foxman, issued the following press release:

This is the apology we had sought and requested. We are glad that Mel Gibson has finally owned up to the fact that he made anti-Semitic remarks, and his apology sounds sincere. We welcome his efforts to repair the damage he has caused, to reach out to the Jewish community, and to seek help.

Once he completes his rehabilitation for alcohol abuse, we will be ready and willing to help him with his second rehabilitation to combat this disease of prejudice.

Without such a formal apology, support and understanding from the Jewish community, and some sort of Twelve Step Program such as Alcoholics Anonymous, it is doubtful that Gibson will be able to recover either personally or professionally. One thing is certain: Hollywood and the public love to lap up a scandal, as was apparent in the
O.J. Simpson murder trial a decade ago. It takes years to build up a reputation, but one stupid quick mistake to make it all come tumbling down. As stated in Wensley Clarkson's Mel Gibson; Living Dangerously, at page 202: "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."

Hollywood Actor and Director Mel Gibson Hollywood Animator and SMC Professor Jim Keeshen

Photos from left to right: Hollywood Filmmakers, Mel Gibson and James Keeshen.

In sharp contrast, Hollywood animator James Keeshen, 57, (a.k.a., Jim Keeshen) of Jim Keeshen Productions, Inc. and professor of animation at Santa Monica College's Academy of Entertainment and Technology has continued to fail to apologize for his bigoted comments about autism. On or about March 1, 2006, Professor Keeshen allegedly made a formal announcement to his students in his ET 18 Storyboarding class that autism is a "mental disease" that causes a person to be a "problem" and "destructive." Like Gibson, he also threatened retaliation. Keeshen allegedly stated his intention to "come after" his students, get them to the "letter of the law," have them "kicked out" of school and that they would suffer "other consequences." At the time Keeshen made his comments to his class, there were approximately 21 students enrolled, including one disabled student. Keeshen allegedly justified his comments and threats under the guise of school policy.

Despite an outcry by various autism advocacy groups and a written request for an apology, Keeshen has yet to follow Mel Gibson's lead by providing either a formal or informal apology. In fact, Keeshen had allegedly previously stated to his students on or about February 22, 2006: "Lying is better than not lying." On or about this same date, he made other questionable comments to his disabled wheelchair bound student: "Okay, so park yourself where ever you feel comfortable." When she asked to use the restroom, he remarked: "Just no video taping, okay?"

On or about April 21, 2006, Robert Sammis, Vice-President for Planning and Development and legal counsel for the college, remarked about Professor Jim Keeshen's March 1, 2006 speech:

Jim was speaking on his own behalf. He was not articulating any position on behalf of the college. It's not something we would condone. ... Official in his mind. And school policy in his own mind. That's not our policy. He was speaking completely on his own. He had no authority to represent the college. And quite honestly, if he were ever to be sued for that, we would not defend him. We would not be liable for it. He was on his own when he said those things.

At the time Professor Keeshen made his negative comments about autism, Santa Monica Community College District had written guidelines governing the rights of disabled students and anti-discriminatory policies. Although students at public colleges such as SMC have wide protection under the First Amendment, colleges may reprimand, suspend, or dismiss a faculty member whose speech in the classroom does not confirm to the school's mission, policies, or public image, including its statements on diversity, anti-discrimination, and multiculturalism.

Keeshen, like Gibson, allegedly admitted to "being f--ked up." Last August 2005, Keeshen also alleged that he was using the school to finish his film. James Keeshen's "El Día de Los Muertos" (The Day of The Dead), recently was a
finalist in the 2006 Moondance Film Festival held in Hollywood, California this past June. The film won the Moondance Seahorse Award. Given Keeshen's lack of substantial film credits, his previous legal entanglements with Seth MacFarlane over the highly acclaimed Family Guy animated series by Fox, and his failure to issue a formal apology for his negative comments about autism, it is highly unlikely that Hollywood will embrace him with open arms in the near future.

One thing is certain, despite all the efforts to erase hatred against the Jewish people, African-Americans, and those with physical or neurological disabilities, the hatred and bigotry remains. We can only pray for those who cannot see through their hatred while continuing to educate the general populace. By exercising our respective rights under various civil rights and anti-discriminatory laws as well as making known these public issues, the sunshine of knowledge will perhaps prevail.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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