Pop Ethics Quiz! Who’s More Unethical: Mel or Oksana?

Actor/director Mel Gibson has been in a series of nasty public and private battles with Oksana Grigorieva, whom he is currently fighting in court for custody of their love-child. As part of her assault on his fitness as a father, Grigorieva secretly taped one of their emotional arguments and released it to the tabloid media. On the tape, Gibson calls her a number of names that aren’t in a gentleman’s vocabulary, but the pièce de résistance is this charming sentiment:

You look like a fucking pig in heat and if you get raped by a pack of niggers it will be your fault.”

Your question is: Which is more unethical? Mel’s ugly words or Oksana’s taping and releasing them?

[Pause for “Jeopardy” music…]

The answer: Oksana.

By a mile.

Mel Gibson is a bigot, almost certainly. Non-bigots, people who have respect for others regardless of their race and who do not lump individuals into stereotyped groups, don’t often talk like Mel did to Oksana, even in public. But private words uttered in anger, even ugly ones, are still relatively minor ethical misdeeds: a violation of civility, a breach of kindness and respect.

Is it unethical to be a bigot? Well, Mel hides it well in his professional career: if all he does is think bigoted thoughts without acting on them, he is still being ethical. We can’t always control what we think; ethics involves what we do. Losing composure, succumbing to anger and using ugly, hurtful and racist words in a private  argument is wrong, but extremely limited in the harm it can do.

Unless, of course, the person you have the argument with…

  • Dishonestly and surreptitiously tapes your words, violating the implicit trust that your conversation was private,
  • Makes certain that the people most likely to be hurt by your words get to hear them, even though that was not your intent, by turning your private act into a public one,
  • Uses the tape to destroy your public image, already shaky because of another offensive outburst, when you are a public figure whose career is dependent upon being liked,

That’s what Oksana did to him.

Mel’s a bigot and a sexist boor, but his es-girlfriend lied, betrayed his confidentiality and trust, and vindictively set out to destroy his career.

It’s no contest, really. He said hateful things; she did them.

10 thoughts on “Pop Ethics Quiz! Who’s More Unethical: Mel or Oksana?

  1. And, there’s no real recourse he has. Sue her? What restitution will that result in? On the other hand, all actions have consequences, and if we can determine all of our actions with that in mind, as if someone is always watching (e.g. God), the outcomes may produce less damage, self-inflicted or otherwise. Likelihood is, the action behind all of this, i.e. that which produced the love-child, is only now having the consequences he never predicted. That’s the thing about consequences though, wrong action can always produce completely unpredictable and sometimes horrific consequences.

    End of sermon. I shall now resume my sinful ways…

    • I can see the “condign justice” angle, as George Will would say. Of course, she had an equal part in the initial ethical misstep too. In the culture of Hollywood, out of wedlock kids are not considered unethical. One more reason to rethink that norm…

  2. In court, evidence like this might not be allowed because of how it was obtained, right?

    Thus, would it be proper to disavow this knowledge when trying to estimate Gibson’s character? Do we really know what kind of circumstances led to this outburst? Or would that just be silly?

  3. Good luck to anyone who tries to claim in an argument that Oksana’s actions are worse than Mel’s recorded bigotry. To most people, it seems how the tape was made is a non-issue, while anyone who says otherwise is just trying to defend Mel’s racism. This side of Gibson is shameful, but it’s so hard to bring up other perspectives on the incident without being attacked. At least there hasn’t been any backlash here.

    • I just plain don’t get that. Whatever happened to “What you say and do to others says more about yourself than it does who you talk about?” or however that goes.

      When Alec Baldwin went through this, nobody really went after the person who did it (who wasn’t a mysterious figure, it was Kim Basinger, his ex-wife). Why? When Christian Bale had that tape leaked of him yelling at someone on a movie set, nobody blamed whoever leaked it (AND everyone seemed to forget that it took place a year before, possibly right after his last co-star’s death of a drug overdose).

      I just don’t get how people can miss this side of the issue.

      • Yes, I’ll be happy to hear from anyone arguing that Gibson is the worse villain here. Backlash: bring it on.Comments between too parties in private should not be judged on the basis of how absent parties would receive them. The person who makes the comments public and thus ensures that those non-present parties are insulted/offended should be justly regarded as the insulter/offender.

  4. Yes Mel Gibson is a racist. Yes, he has a temper. When you are setting someone up, you make sure you set them up really, really well. It is unlikely that this was a normal tantrum/argument. She went to all the trouble of setting up secret recording devices. You can’t just waste all that time. You have to push every button you know to get him to blow his top. You set it up to get ammunition for court. Make it count!

  5. I do not believe we can call him a racist. Honestly, he was having a private argument. He wasn’t screaming racist comments to anyone but his lying woman, who violated every law and trust to record this man. She absolutely knew what would happen to Gibson when she set out to destroy him.

    I DO NOT buy this as a “fear for your life” situation. That is the only legal defense she has to keep her from being punished by recording and then releasing these tapes. In fact, it is exactly what the legal books describe as a “legal recordation”. The woman is pathetic. The rants, unfortunate, but I guarantee that if we recorded the conversations of couples nation wide whom were going through an emotional breakp-ups (2 in Gibson case), divorce, custody agreements on two children (not just this bimbos baby), alimony for two women, houses and property to split, I’d say we would hear worse. Measure these stressors against the fact that Gibson did everything he could do to promote this woman and give her a career. What jealous man would do that? He wasn’t jealous, he was BETRAYED and that is very painful when you have given everything and received nothing. What did she give him? A baby, and a lot of trouble. She is a black widow all the way. Her past string of men who took her up and up her fantasy ladder to riches and fame will attest to her character without much question. Gibson has been a consistent father and husband for over 28 years in Hollywood. No small achievement. He is a brilliant actor and director and to hear any of you Hollywood hypocrites claim that we, the public will not see his movies because of this skank woman, is simply ridiculous. We like Mel Gibson, Mad Mel, if you will and we will see everything he produces, and directs. The rest of you have many secrets in your closets now don’t you. Goodness, such morals when you have the chance to get rid of your competition. The small folks out here aren’t buying this, any of it, so just back off with the career ending comments.

    • Did you even read the piece you commented on? I doubt it. 1) I didn’t write that Mel was a racist. I said he was probably a bigot. I think we can safely assume that, between his drunken anti-Jewish rant and this. 2) I concluded that Oksana’s conduct was despicable in this incident, and worse than Mel’s. As to their other problems, I have no opinion. This isn’t “Judge Judy.” If he beat her in any way, I don’t want to hear anything more from him, ever. 3) Who are you calling a “Hollywood hypocrite”? Is this a copy of some rant you are sending out? I’m neither from Hollywood nor a hypocrite. 4) You are wrong about Mel’s career, however. Fairly or not, he’s toast. Michael Richards is a brilliant comedian, but you haven’t seen him much lately, have you? Americans, most of them anyway, don’t like bigots, and they don’t pay money to watch people they don’t like, no matter how talented they are. You can check out the posts here on cognitive dissonance.

      Writing a response that has nothing to do with the point of a post is rude and obnoxious—no wonder you think Mel’s conduct won’t hurt him at the box office. Respond to the opinion rendered, or start your own blog. I don’t allow rants here. As a new visitor, you get one, since I’m in a good mood.

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