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Mel Gibson's Apology Not Enough for ADL
July 31, 2006

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

It is a maxim: Bigotry is wrong.

It is an evil whether it is expressed by world leaders or inebriated actors.

Unlike some who have made untoward statements without regret, the day after his arrest in Malibu on suspicion of DUI Mel Gibson issued what amounted to a comprehensive and humble apology.

Predictably the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) deemed insufficient Gibson's sorrowful and blanket apology.

With the apparent ability to peer into the human soul, National Director of the (ADL) Abraham Foxman proclaimed the following: "His [Gibson's] tirade finally reveals his true self and shows that his protestations during the debate over his film 'The Passion of the Christ,' that he is such a tolerant, loving person, were a sham."

The ADL is apparently trying to use the incident to alter the results of its past failed effort to characterize Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" as bigoted.

It appears as though some apologies are more equal than others. Demands for another, and another, and another more remorseful apology invariably keep on coming when it comes to those whom the Left disdains.

Remember when on the occasion of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday Republican Sen. Trent Lott made some regrettable remarks? Lott's words were construed as meaning that the nation would have been better off if a segregationist's presidential campaign had been successful.

Eight days after making the remarks Lott apologized, saying, "A poor choice of words conveyed to some the impression that I embraced the discarded policies of the past. ... Nothing could be further from the truth, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by my statement."

Lott's critics on the Left claimed the apology was inadequate. Lott proceeded to issue apology after apology, each time expressing more and more contrition. But no matter how sorrowful Lott's expressions were, they were never good enough for his critics. Ultimately, he stepped down from his position as Senate majority Leader.

At the time one of Lott's most outspoken critics was Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd. Dodd said, "If a Democratic leader had made [Lott's] statements, we would have to call for his stepping aside, without any question whatsoever."

Fast forward to April 2004. Dodd took to the senate floor to praise the work of Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, saying, "I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia that he would have been a great senator at any moment. Some were right for the time. Robert C. Byrd, in my view, would have been right at any time.... I cannot think of a single moment in this nation's 220-plus year history where [Robert Byrd] would not have been a valuable asset to this country."

This is the same Byrd who once donned the white sheets and hood of the KKK, voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act and as recently as March 2001 used the "N" word on national television. Absent were myriad calls for a more contrite version after Dodd issued a generic apology.

When he ran for president as a Democrat in 1984, the Rev. Jesse Jackson referred to Jews as "Hymies" and to New York City as "Hymietown." One apology for the foul verbiage sufficed.

In June 2005 Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin intentionally placed the following into the Congressional Record: "If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."

After initially refusing to do so, Durbin offered an apology of sorts for his Nazi, Soviet and Pol Pot comparisons. However, his office did not classify his expression as an apology but rather referred to it as a "Statement of Regret." The senator was not required to show further regret.

Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden recently said, "You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking." Biden did not apologize for his remarks but instead claimed that he was misconstrued. Calls for clarification were scant as were cries for an apology. A statement issued by the ADL's Foxman labeled Gibson's recent apology as "unremorseful and insufficient."

What did Gibson say in his public apology that was lacking in contrition or fullness?

Gibson described his actions as "very wrong and for which I am ashamed."

Saying that one is ashamed is a clear expression of remorse but Gibson did not stop there. He stated that when arrested he "acted like a person completely out of control."

Regarding his statements, Gibson acknowledged, "I said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable."

Referring to one's statements as despicable is strong, unequivocal language. Still, Gibson went even further.

Adding to his expression of sorrow over his outbursts, he said that he was "deeply ashamed of everything" he had said and categorically apologized to anyone who was offended.

He summed things up by saying, "I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry."

According to the Left's parameters, Gibson has exceeded that which is expected. According to human standards, he has exceeded that which is sufferable.

No further apologies needed.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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