One week after actor and movie producer Mel Gibson hurled an insulting, profanity-laced tirade at the sheriff’s deputies who stopped him on a California road after a night of drinking, the story refuses to die. In this ongoing saga, his initial rather brief apology was followed by a more detailed apology specifically asking for forgiveness and dialogue from the Jewish community when it was clear that outrage was still building over his alleged anti-semitism.
The incident has received continuing broad and mainstream press coverage this week including commentary by respected columnist Gloria Berger in US News and World Report and the cover article in People magazine.
Gibson may or may not be anti-semitic. It is hard to know for sure what feelings and beliefs were behind his ugly and mean-spirited words on that California highway. But as horrible as they were and as much attention as they have deservedly drawn, that was not Gibson’s worst transgression that night. What makes him a certifiable, 100% creep and what has distressingly lost in the coverage of the words that perhaps have wrecked his career is that he was driving drunk. This is despicable and inexcusable and indefensible.
As hurtful and inflammatory as words spoken as religious and racial insults can be, they are just that – words. Drunk driving, however, can and tragically does kill – thousands of people every year in the United States. His wanton disregard for the safety of the other travellers on the road that night in his pursuit of a good time is beyond contempt. One wonders how many cars he passed that night on that road that had children in them?
In his utter selfishness, did he once think of what might happen if lost control of his car and slammed head-on into one of those travellers? With his millions of dollars and minions of handlers, was it not possible for him to call a taxi or phone someone for a ride home?
As a trauma surgeon who sees the carnage of drunk drivers and the smashed, broken bodies of children who die at the hands of them, I have only one thing to say. For shame.
Copyright 2006 Insidesurgery.com