My article on Mel Gibson met a universal response: what he said and did was stupid. While some of you questioned the sincerity of his apology, I agree that we should be using this celebrity culture to highlight more important issues.
Sean Wightman of Scottsdale, Ariz., writes:
The Mel Gibson thing catches me a little bit surprised! We have all said stupid things in a drunken stupor and especially Hollywood. Why is this so off the charts for this Hollywood crowd?
Where is the outcry when Hezbollah fires missiles at innocent people and abducts Israeli soldiers? Why is Hollywood not standing up and screaming with their star power over this stuff? No, no, it is Mel Gibson that is the problem. Give me a break.
SRE: Great points Sean, we have much better things to worry about. I’m a proponent of using this incident to get more important things noticed.
Tom O’Keefe of St. Louis, Mo., writes:
In today’s Hollywood where so much money is made in the foreign market, I can’t help but wonder if Mel Gibson’s tirade is a shrewd marketing maneuver to increase his popularity in an increasingly anti-Semitic Europe.
I just wish there was as much outrage directed at the non-celebrities that kill Jews as there is at the celebrities that slander them.
SRE: Thanks Tom, many of you echoed this point!
James Berreth of Minneapolis, Minn., writes:
“You shouldn’t let what other people say about any group of people affect you. Being a Jew myself, I didn’t find much to be offended about in Mel’s comments. He was drunk and he is always in the public eye. If you were taken to task on everything you have said while inebriated in any way, what would you say to excuse your poor choice of words? Would you want everyone to hold you accountable past the point of an apology? Me neither...”
SRE: Although I think condoning stereotypes about groups of people can influence our political landscape, I agree that the apology should be accepted and should be used as a vehicle for something positive.
Keith Greer of Maryland writes:
While there is no excuse for what Mel said, I’d like to hear what you would say drunk and with it your preferences and prejudices. If you want to inform the public, discuss the negative effects of abusing alcohol! Tell the young people of its dangers and depressive effects and condemn its abuse. How about using your influence to help your listeners?”
SRE: Point taken, although highlighting political issues is more in line with my area of expertise.
Pat M. of Harrison, Ariz., writes:
My father was a recovered alcoholic. When he drank, he said things that in a million years he never would have said when he was sober. Never. Alcohol is not a truth serum for the alcoholic, it induces an alter-ego.
Mel Gibson didn’t make excuses, he owned up, admitted his mistake, and has issued apologies.
SRE: Thanks Pat, I agree that we all make mistakes and how we address and correct them determines our character.
Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California and a member of the Board of Contributors of USA Today. She writes the "Portia" column for American Lawyer Media and is a contributing editor of The Los Angeles Times. She was appointed by the president to serve on the National Holocaust Council and by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles to serve on that city's Ethics Commission.
A woman of firsts, she was the first woman president of the Harvard Law Review and the first woman to head a national presidential campaign (Dukakis). Estrich is committed to paving the way for women to assume positions of leadership.
Books by Estrich include "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics is Destroying the Criminal Justice System" and "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders." Her book "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women," is a departure from her other works, encouraging women to take care of themselves by engaging the mind to fight for a healthy body. Her latest book, The Los Angeles Times bestseller, "Sex & Power," takes an impassioned look at the division of power between men and women in the American workforce, proving that the idea of gender equality is still just an idea.