July 31, 2006 -- Are a drunk man's words a sober man's thoughts, as the old proverb teaches? A police report filed over the weekend about an alcohol-fueled anti-Semitic tirade by actor Mel Gibson has renewed interest not only in the opinions of the famous filmmaker but also in those of his father.
A Los Angeles Sheriff's Department report states that when Gibson was arrested early Friday morning for speeding with a .12 blood alcohol level, the 50-year-old actor lashed out at "f--ing Jews" and said that "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson had asked a sheriff's deputy, "Are you a Jew?"
After the story broke on Saturday, Gibson issued a statement apologizing for his behavior and for having "said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable," but none of those sentiments seem all that detached from the views of the actor's father.
Hutton Gibson, 87, is a leading proponent of what is called Catholic traditionalism, a canon that rejects the changes to Catholicism made during the Second Vatican Council of 1962-1965, which the elder Gibson once called ''a Masonic plot backed by the Jews.''
Hutton Gibson is also outspoken in his views that the Holocaust never happened, or at least not to the degree that historians maintain. "Go and ask an undertaker or the guy who operates the crematorium what it takes to get rid of a dead body," he told the New York Times in 2003. "It takes one liter of petrol and 20 minutes. Now, 6 million?"
Hutton Gibson has appeared at events sponsored by the anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying Barnes Review (Click HERE to see a program from a 2003 seminar, which includes a photograph of Gibson with notorious Holocaust-denier Fredrick Töben) and is heralded on anti-Semitic Web sites around the world.
In one radio interview in 2004, Hutton Gibson said that "most of " what historians say about the Holocaust is "fiction." He claimed that 6 million Jews weren't killed during World War II. Rather, he said, they moved.
"They claimed that there were 6.2 million in Poland before the war, and they claimed after the war there were 200,000 -- therefore he must have killed 6 million of them," he said. "They simply got up and left! They were all over the Bronx and Brooklyn and Sydney, Australia, and Los Angeles."
He said concentration camps were merely "work camps." Holocaust museums, he said, are "just a gimmick to collect money."
For Jews, he said, "it's all about control. They're after one world religion and one world government. That's why they've attacked the Catholic Church so strongly, to ultimately take control over it by their doctrine." He added that "to a Jew a Christian commits idolatry every time he looks at a crucifix and says a prayer. You know they're in control and they're going to get in control the way things are going. Because they get all of our people."
His son, he said, was happy about the controversy over "The Passion of the Christ." "Mel says he absolutely couldn't buy PR like this," Hutton Gibson said. He thanked the Anti Defamation League for ensuring that "everybody knows the line now: 'Let the blood be upon us and our children.'"
Notably Mel Gibson has refused to say whether he agrees with his father's views. "My dad taught me my faith, and I believe what he taught me," Mel Gibson told Reader's Digest in 2003. "The man never lied to me in his life."
Disputes Detractors' Agenda
With news of his arrest, some Jewish activists do seem to believe that old proverb that a drunk man's words are a sober man's thoughts. (Or, alternatively, in vino, veritas.)
"It appears that the combination of liquor and arrest has revealed his true character," said the national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith, Abraham Foxman. "We believe there should be consequences to bigots and bigotry. One way to combat bigots is to put a price on bigotry. I would hope that if this is in fact true, that his colleagues condemn him and distance themselves from him."
Gibson has a production deal with ABC Entertainment to make a miniseries about the Holocaust, and his latest film, "Apocalypto," is scheduled for release by the Walt Disney Company. (The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News.)
In 2004, in the wake of criticism from some Jewish groups that his film "The Passion of the Christ" was anti-Semitic, Gibson was repeatedly asked about his father's views and his views on Jews. In every case, the movie star seemed to refuse to answer directly whether the Holocaust happened as historians affirm or whether it's been blown out of proportion or whether the Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus.
Asked by ABC News' Diane Sawyer whether the Jews killed Jesus, Mel Gibson held that Jews essentially responsible, saying that anyone who disagrees with him is disputing the Bible. "There were Jews and Romans in Israel," Gibson said. "There were no Norwegians there. The Jewish Sanhedrin and those who they held sway over and the Romans were the material agents of his demise. You know, critics who have a problem with me don't really have a problem with me and this film, they have a problem with the four Gospels. That's what their problem is."
As to what happened during the Holocaust, Gibson said, "Do I believe that there were concentration camps where defenseless and innocent Jews died cruelly under the Nazi regime? Of course I do, absolutely. It was an atrocity of monumental proportion." Were millions of Jews, 6 million Jews, killed? "Sure," Gibson said casually.
"Their whole agenda here, my detractors, is to drive a wedge between me and my father," Gibson said. "And it's not going to happen. I love him. He's my father. … I'm tight with him. He's my father. Gotta leave it alone, Diane. Gotta leave it alone."
But with news over the weekend that Gibson himself had made anti-Semitic slurs, it may be tough for the media to leave it alone.