Actor-director Mel Gibson issued an apology today to Jews for anti-Semitic remarks made to an officer who arrested him for suspicion of drunk driving.
“There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark,” Gibson said in a statement issued by his agent. “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.”
Gibson, driving a Lexus, was arrested by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in Malibu, Calif., early Saturday morning.
The 50-year-old Oscar winner reportedly shouted: “All the wars in the world are caused by Jews,” and then asked the officer, “You a Jew?”
In his statement, Gibson said he recognized the magnitude of his actions.
“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 sheriff’s deputy who arrested Gibson for drunken driving, James Mee, said today he considered it a routine arrest and did not take the comments seriously.
“I don’t take pride in hurting Mr. Gibson,” Mee said. “What I had hoped out of this is that he would think twice before he gets behind the wheel of a car and was drinking. That would be my hope that this would accomplish that. I don’t want to ruin his career. I don’t want to defame him in any way or hurt him.”
Already, however, ABC has announced the cancellation of a planned miniseries about the Holocaust it was developing with Gibson’s Icon Productions.
“Given that it has been nearly two years and we have yet to see the first draft of a script, we have decided to no longer pursue this project with Icon,”
In his apology, Gibson said his actions Saturday went against his Roman Catholic beliefs.
“The tenets of what I profess to believe necessitate that I exercise charity and tolerance as a way of life,” he said. “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.”
Gibson said he wants to meet with Jewish leaders to make amends.
“I’m not just asking for forgiveness,” he said. “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.”
Gibson said he has entered a rehab program to treat alcoholism.
“I have begun an ongoing program of recovery and what I am now realizing is that I cannot do it alone,” he said. “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.”
Gibson concluded: “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.”