Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Bigger Problems

Last weekend, Governor Romney referred to the Big Dig as a "tar baby." The Boston Herald responded by plastering a photograph of Romney looking befuddled on its front page alongside the headline, "That's Offensive!" Apparently there wasn't much else going on in the world this week, because the fact that our governor had accurately used a metaphor warranted a front-page scandal.

Both the Herald and CNN quoted angry remarks from a Larry Jones, who was identified as "a black Republican and civil rights activist." In other words, they couldn't locate anyone with authority at any reputable organization who could spare the time to froth about Romney's comment, but the editors had already committed itself to being outraged; so they pulled some schmuck off the street and pasted his remarks above the fold.

At the same time, Los Angeles was buzzing about Mel Gibson's arrest. Apparently Gibson was arrested for drunk driving last Thursday, and when he was taken into custody he spouted a half-dozen anti-Semitic remarks. When the story broke, Gibson released the following statement:
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.
As if on cue, Abraham Foxman, national director for the Anti-Defamation League, offered this reply:
Mel Gibson's apology is unremorseful and insufficient. It's not a proper apology because it does not go to the essence of his bigotry and his anti-Semitism... We would hope that Hollywood now would realize the bigot in their midst and that they will distance themselves from this anti-Semite.
I'm confused. Gibson's statement uses the words "ashamed" and "apologize" twice each and it ends with the phrase, "I am truly sorry." By what measure can this be described as unremorseful? If that statement doesn't constitute a proper apology, what would?

Don't hold your breath waiting for an answer from Foxman. He's part of the problem. It's the same problem faced by every local highway department in this country: When you pay someone to fix the roads, you give that person a vested interest in ensuring that the roads stay broken. You can't expect people like Foxman to defeat intolerance when their jobs depend on fighting it.


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