Thursday, July 8, 2010

Did Oksana Grigorieva Violate California Law When She Recorded Mel Gibson's (Alleged) Rants? And, Why is it Okay to Print Some Slurs, but not Others?

Radar online has been breathlessly reporting on the contents of some explosive tapes it claims to have heard in which the actor and director Mel Gibson is heard to utter some extremely vile expletives and epithets at his former girlfriend.

In the first such "WORLD EXCLUSIVE," entitled WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Mel Gibson's Racist Rant Caught On Tape - Tells Oksana She Would Get 'Raped By N***ers', we're told that Mr. Gibson is heard to tell his ex-girlfriend that, well, she would get "raped by n***ers."
In one of the most explosive, racist and vile outbursts by a celebrity ever caught on tape, Mel Gibson told the mother of his love child that the way she was dressed would get her "raped by a pack of n***ers," has learned exclusively.

It's a shocking and blockbuster development in the couple's bitter legal battle, and Mel's disgusting words are on audio tape. His racist, misogynist statement is one of the secrets lurking in his war with his former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. has heard the tape, which also includes Mel telling Oksana he will burn down her home.
RadarOnline has heard the tape, and is reporting on its contents, yet we do not get to hear the tape ourselves.

Radar online's next World Exclusive, entitled, WORLD EXCLUSIVE: MORE Mel Gibson Rants Caught On Tape -- Calls Oksana A "Psycho C***", reveals that Mr. Gibson apparently called his ex-girlfriend a "psycho c***."
In another taped rant, which has heard, the Oscar-winning actor calls Oksana Grigorieva a “psycho c***”.

Oksana and Mel have a eight-month-old daughter.

Gibson apparently left this hate-filled message on Oksana’s voice mail. The actor says: “This is my last message. I might be the father... Well, f** you... You psycho c***... Because I don’t care.”
Again, we don't get to hear the tape ourselves, having to rely on Radar online's analysis. We don't even get to see the full words "f**," "c***," or "n***er." I don't have a problem with that -- those are foul words and Radar online might not want to pollute their site by printing them in full.

But check out what Radar online went with today, July 8. Another "World Exclusive," this one featuring another (alleged) Gibson racial slur, caught on tape, entitled, WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Another Mel Gibson Slur Caught On Tape - Calls Latinos "Wetbacks". In this story, well, Mr. Gibson apparently calls Latinos "w*tbacks."
Mel Gibson has been caught on tape making ANOTHER bigoted remark, this time against Latinos, is reporting exclusively.

The Oscar-winning director/actor is heard referring to one of his staffers as a “wetback” during a recorded argument with Oksana Grigorieva, the mother of his love child. has heard the tape in which Mel tells Oksana: “I will report her to the f**king people that take f**king money from the wetbacks.”

He is referring to turning a worker into immigration authorities, has been told.

'Wetbacks' is a disparaging slang term for those of Latino heritage, especially Mexican illegal immigrants in the United States.

The slur stems from the fact that illegal Mexicans would sometimes swim
to cross into other countries.
Why does Radar online feel the need to redact the ugly word "n***er," but "w*tback" is left intact? Are they not both despicable racist words? Are they suggesting that because the slur refers to swimming that it's okay to print it in full?

I am really at a loss as to explain how Radar online is handling this entire "Mel Gibson tapes" story. They are apparently the only ones who've actually heard any tapes at all (and apparently most of the revelations are coming from the same tape -- are they only listening to a few minutes a day, because that's all they can stand to hear, and writing about it as they hear it, or are they cynically dragging the story out over a period of more than a week?), and are bringing these stories out a little at a time, with one more shocking revelation after another.

And yet...

Radar online will not play the tape(s) for us, nor will they tell us whey they're not releasing them. Is there some legal reason for holding it back?

It could be, actually. If Ms. Grigorieva did not specifically get Mr. Gibson's consent to be recorded, she might have been in violation of California law.
California makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation. See Cal. Penal Code § 632. The statute applies to "confidential communications" -- i.e., conversations in which one of the parties has an objectively reasonable expectation that no one is listening in or overhearing the conversation. ...

If you are recording someone without their knowledge in a public or semi-public place like a street or restaurant, the person whom you're recording may or may not have "an objectively reasonable expectation that no one is listening in or overhearing the conversation," and the reasonableness of the expectation would depend on the particular factual circumstances. Therefore, you cannot necessarily assume that you are in the clear simply because you are in a public place.

If you are operating in California, you should always get the consent of all parties before recording any conversation that common sense tells you might be "private" or "confidential." In addition to subjecting you to criminal prosecution, violating the California wiretapping law can expose you to a civil lawsuit for damages by an injured party. See Cal. Penal Code § 637.2.
So it could be that Mr. Gibson really did say all that nasty stuff to Ms. Grigorieva, but she would be the one facing jail time, unless she is heard to ask him, at some point, "Do you mind if I record this tirade?"

But if that is the case (I'm not a lawyer), and the tapes were made illegally, then why can Radar online report on the contents?

The second tape is apparently of a recording left on Ms. Grigorieva's voice mail, so that probably further muddies the legal issues. Do you have a reasonable right to expect the insane tirade you left on your ex-girlfriend's voice mail won't be recorded and exposed to the public?

More questions for Radar online:

In another World Exclusive entitled WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Mel Gibson Caught On Tape Admitting He Hit Oksana -- "You F**king Deserved It" in which, apparently, Mel Gibson is caught on tape admitting that he hit his ex-girlfriend, and that she "f**king deserved it."
Mel Gibson is caught on tape admitting that he hit the mother of his love child, is reporting exclusively.

It’s another bombshell development, following our world exclusive when we revealed that Mel was taped spewing a vile, racist rant, telling Oksana Grigorieva, "You look like a f***ing pig in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of n***ers, it will be your fault."

Now, is revealing even more content from the tape and this time Mel admits to hitting Oksana twice in the face while she was holding their baby daughter Lucia.
This sounds like the worst one of all. I mean, calling someone vituperative names and using racist epithets is awful, but actually hitting someone who is holding your daughter is much worse.

But watch what Radar online does here. They say that Mr. Gibson admits to hitting Ms. Grigorieva twice in the face while she was holding their baby daughter Lucia. I boldened that part of the story, for emphasis. That is a startling statement.

Here is how Radar online follows it up:
On tape, a teary Oksana is heard asking Mel, “What kind of a man is that who would hit a woman when she is holding a child in her hands, hitting her twice in the face?

“What kind of a man is that?” the Russian musician repeats.

The Braveheart star responds: “You know what — you f**cking deserved it.”
Which, not to make too fine a point, does not look an admission to me. He is saying that she deserved something ("it"), not saying that he caused that something to happen.

This actually makes me wonder about all of Radar online's reporting on this matter. I'll admit that when I saw the first story, I was ready to believe the worst about Mr. Gibson. After all, this is a guy who has admitted to (and "apologized" for) making anti-Semitic comments during his DUI arrest in 2006.
"There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge.

"I am a public person, and when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. As a result, I must assume personal responsibility for my words and apologize directly to those who have been hurt and offended by those words.

"The tenets of what I profess to believe necessitate that I exercise charity and tolerance as a way of life. Every human being is God's child, and if I wish to honor my God I have to honor his children. But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.

But it has occurred to me that we are relying solely on the word of Radar online, and Radar online hasn't necessarily shown that it can be trusted. But Mr. Gibson has already said that he believes that every human being is God's child, and hatred of any kind goes against his faith.

Which means that he couldn't have said those terrible things Radar online is alleging.

Moreover, how do we know that the tape wasn't doctored in some way? He might have been responding to something else, and his line dropped into the recording. For that matter, someone might have gone through his old movies and taken lines from those movies, and put them into a recording.

Yes, that doesn't sound likely to me, either. But my point is, the tapes have not yet been made public.

So until we see/hear the tape, or at least get a look at the alleged photo of Ms. Grigorieva's battered face, we can't make a judgment on the case.

Which means I just wasted about half an hour of my life writing a blog entry about something completely vile and disgusting that might or might not be accurate. For now, I will just have to content myself with disliking Mr. Gibson for all the reasons I disliked him previously.

UPDATE @ 2:54 PM PST: The LA County Sheriff's Department is now on the case:
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department listed the actor-director as a potential suspect in the alleged attack on Russian singer Oksana Grigorieva at an undisclosed location in Malibu.

The two have been involved in a nasty custody dispute over their infant daughter—the subject of a confidential court case.
Really? It's a "confidential court case"? Haven't we already heard all about it?

Anyway, with the LA County Sheriff's Department handling things, they're sure to get to the bottom of it!

UPDATE JULY 9 2010 @ 9:00 PM PST

Here's some of the recording of Mel Gibson's racist hatred. Very NSFW, very disgusting:

Well, there you go. Mel Gibson is a scumbag. And he was fired by his agency.
I'm told wme-new-logo-final smallerwhat happened is that the news media reported last week there was a tape of Mel Gibson making a racial slur. And last Friday, WME board member Ari Emanuel "woke up at 3 AM and emailed his partner Patrick Whitesell that 'we can't represent a guy who said the N-word'." So the agency dumped Mel Gibson on July 2nd, and the next day, on July 3rd, his agent Limato died. Today the 2-minute recording was released by the celebrity website which initially broke the news that on it Mel Gibson allegedly uses a racial epithet during a fight with Oksana Grigorieva, the mother of his child: "You're an embarrassment to me. You look like a f***ing bitch in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of n***ers, it will be your fault." Just now, the Drudge Report headlined both stories, "Mel In Hell".

The question now is, did Oksana Grigorieva violate California law when she recorded Mel Gibson's rants? That's almost exactly the same question I asked in my original headline, but I removed the parenthetical "alleged." I think that was pretty safe to do.

Ah, well. He'll always be the star of one of the greatest movies of all time, The Road Warrior:


A.Jaye said...

Comparing the 'n'-word to 'wetbacks'? You're being argumentative right?

Then again you are in a position to be theoretical about it.

shampoo said...

this is a weird thing all the way around. but, it is probably better for oksana she has these tapes whether or not they can be used in court. it's too depressing for me to read every foul thing he said.. i have the point: mel was very, very mean to oksana. he doesn't seem to like anyone.

Ricky Sprague said...

A.Jaye, my question is more to do with Radar online's editorial policy/decisions. They altered "the n-word," "the c-word," and "the f-word," but not "the w-word." I wouldn't try to list them in order of hateful- or hurtfulness as I am hardly qualified to do so, but the word "w*tback" is also hateful and I am not sure why Radar felt comfortable running the word unaltered, while it felt compelled to alter the other ones.

shampoo, yes, this is a depressing story but I am thinking perhaps there might be a sort of silver lining in it for Mr. Gibson -- perhaps he can take up with Michelle "Bombshell" McGee, Jesse James's ex?

A.Jaye said...

I too am in no position to quantify the effect of the term 'wetback' however I do applaud Radar's editorial policy in that the n-word is the most shameful spoken construct in the histry of mankind and a perpetual disgrace to the white race.

Let it be known that I continue to respect/admire your point of view though not always agree with it.

For example I don't think Megan Goode is cute at all.

shampoo said...

the various words being censored or not... some software does this automatically. maybe the uncensored word hasn't been entered into the program because it is very close to a term used in a non-offensive way for people who may be swimming. some of the other words censored don't have any non-offensive meaning.

of course, a dilemma occurs when quoting someone like mel who will sprinkle his speech with all sorts of mean things. because few posts radar ever does require any of these words to be used except possibly the one if they ever cover swimming. so, maybe on a normal day they just try not to say any of those things in the first place so there's no need for ** because the words aren't there.

i have seen some sites that censored so many words that some of them i didn't know what they were supposed to be. or censoring software that censor words that are somewhat close in spelling to bad words, but have no bad meaning whatsoever (assistant, for example).