Friday, July 16, 2010

Brave Heart, Foolish Tongue

My Grandma always said "Don't let that little piece of flannel in your mouth get you in trouble".  Well, tell that to Mel Gibson.  He's at it again, this time being recorded by his ex-girlfriend and baby mama calling her everything but a child of God and, oh yeah, he just happened to use the N-word.

I think someone called Al Sharpton.  I think Al made a speech denouncing Mel.  I think no one is concerned but everyone paid attention.  We're not jumping to conclusions, and we're not ready to condemn Mel.  Let's look at this rationally.  Angry words alone do not a racist make, and certainly not words that are spewed venomously in private to a woman with whom he is passionately intertwined.  Any of us are capable of saying all sorts of things in a situation like that.  We shouldn't be defined by what we say at our worst moments and we shouldn't have to wear a label for them for the rest of our lives. 

Now having said that, why, in a moment when he was trying to hurt her most, did he choose that particular example?  What is it about being "raped by a pack of N-words" that would make it worse than being raped by any other pack of anything?  It isn't the USE of the word that I find most offensive, it is the CONTEXT that makes Mel's use of it repulsive and, quite frankly, indefensible.  And yes, he's done this before, spewing angry racial slurs at a cop who pulled him over. He likes racial slurs, that's for sure. When it comes to verbal tongue-lashings, racial slurs are his weapon of choice. 

We need the Al Sharpton's of this world to speak out against this behavior because it's the only way people will know when something is not acceptable.  Al is the "Grandma" of the black community.  Ok, Grandad.  You said it, Mel, now you gotta get a whippin.  And just as when we were children and someone in the neighborhood got a whippin, we didn't label them for it or put them in jail.  We didn't tease them or make them feel ashamed.  We did two things:  We learned from their mistake not to to do it ourselves.  And we left them alone until they were ready to come out and play. 

Seriously, I've said it before about John Mayer and now I'll say it about Mel:  There needs to be some kind of special therapy to help people uncover their hidden and not-so-hidden racism and help them learn how to see all people as simply human.  It is no longer acceptable for people to carry around the belief that some people are less human than others.  Is Mel a racist?  I don't know.  I don't think he does either.  And that's the problem.

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