I gave an interview a couple of days ago to a reporter from a national news magazine. He wanted to know, among other things, whether Mr. Gibson would get favorable treatment, whether he should be made an example of, and what kind of a jail sentence would probably be given; the issue of guilt was, apparently, not of interest.
I responded that the judges in Malibu Court were relatively fair and, unlike many others, would give him neither favorable treatment nor would they "make an example" of him. Then what kind of a jail sentence would he likely get, the reporter wanted to know. Well, that can't be predicted with certainty, but in my experience a first offender in Malibu with a .12% blood-alcohol and no prior conviction (Mr. Gibson's arrest in Toronto was 20 years ago and, in any event, was dismissed) would probably not get any jail time; he would basically get a fine, DUI school, suspended license and probation. Certainly, his apologies and voluntary submission to rehabilitation would weigh in his favor.
But what about the anti-semitic remark? the reported continued. And the sexist statement?
I was a bit taken aback by those queries. Of what possible relevance are ignorant remarks to the issue of whether a suspect has .12% blood alcohol in his system? I asked him what he meant.
Well, he replied, won't there be some jail time for saying things like that?
I was slightly depressed for awhile after that interview. But then, I thought, maybe this reporter wasn't really expressing the prevailing view in this country. Then this morning I read a news story on CNN's website:
DA Considers Gibson DUI Charges
LOS ANGELES, August 1 (AP) — Sheriff's Department officials sent prosecutors their drunken-driving case against Mel Gibson, including an official report that verifies the actor made anti-Semitic and sexist remarks, a law enforcement official said Monday…
The Sheriff's Department, spokesman Steve Whitmore said, was "convinced because of our investigation and because of his own self-illuminating statement that he will be convicted of driving under the influence."
So not only should he do jail time for making a bigoted remark, but such a "self-illuminating statement" ensures a conviction? Now, Mr. Gibson may well be guilty based upon the evidence, but when did we start convicting people and throwing them in jail for being prejudiced? And who among us can truly say we are without prejudice?