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Sheen’s Argument

Charlie Sheen demands (and deserves) an apology from the ADL

Dan Klein
March 01, 2011

Update:Commentator “Z” (see after the jump) found the rest of the Chuck Lorre essay quoted by Charlie Sheen. The extract from Sheen’s letter indeed has a completely different connotation in context, and I stand corrected.

Earlier this week, Charlie Sheen said in a radio interview, “I violently hate Chaim Levine”—a reference to the Hebrew name of Chuck Lorre, the director and creator of sitcom Two and a Half Men on which Sheen stars.

Warning bells! The show was canceled and Abe Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League leapt into action. They accused Sheen of “borderline anti-Semitism” and then, presumably exhausted from all that intolerance fighting, took a long nap, content in the knowledge that when they woke there would be an unconvincing apology waiting for them from which they could derive nourishment.

Nothing happening. Sheen, in his usually calm and collected manner, flipped his wig, and sent his lawyers along with an open letter demanding the ADL retract their statement. Now the surprise: Sheen is right. He may be crazy as a hungry honey badger, and should have been fired years ago for his repeated alleged abuses of women, but what he’s not is an anti-Semite.

That’s not to say this kind of name game doesn’t have the potential for prejudice. When someone insists on emphasizing Barack Obama’s middle name, but not Bill Clinton’s, you can assume they have an ugly axe to grind. But Sheen seems to have produced a trump—a ‘vanity card’, one of the trademark small essays that appear at the end of episodes Lorre’s series, on which Lorre wrote,

…why have I spent a lifetime moving away from that group [Jews]? How did Chaim become Chuck? How did Levine become Lorre? When I was a little boy… the rabbis regularly told us that were the chosen people… I went home, observed my family and… thought to myself, “bull$##!

Sheen argues that he called Lorre “Chaim Levine” not because Sheen dislikes Jews, but because Lorre does—and if Lorre had talked about rejecting the name Snuffleupagus, Sheen would have used that to get under his skin, too. Sheen, filled with chutzpah after presenting his case, does go a bit too far in the letter—he dares the ADL to go after Lorre for mocking chosenness—but he probably deserves that apology. He’ll finally be able to mosey off into the sunset with a spotless reputation, never to get in trouble again.