August 04, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT

Mel Gibson’s tsuris isn’t just a personal crisis or an occasion for Hollywood soul-searching; it’s also an opportunity for parasites and pranksters to cash in. On a perverse level, you have to admire the speed and ingenuity with which folks like the sellers of these T-shirts have rushed their product into the marketplace. Or the chutzpah with which half-Jewish actor Rob Schneider turned Gibson’s anti-Semitic rant into an attention-getting ploy for himself, taking out a trade ad vowing never to work with Gibson (like there was any danger of that happening). And some late-night TV jokester deserves credit for this photo-op that manages to poke fun at Gibson while being nearly as offensive. Props for most outrageous and gratuitous cash-in, however, goes to the folks who turned Gibson’s rant into a ringtone — because who wouldn’t want to announce their own bigotry and sexism to everyone within earshot of their ringing phone? Congrats to you all, and we’ll see you in hell.

The lone upside is that these folks may have defied Mencken’s maxim and may actually be underestimating the taste of the American public. Unscientific online polling by Access Hollywood suggests that most people are already sick of this scandal. They won’t mind making Mel $10 richer when his next movie comes out, and they don’t believe he’s an anti-Semite. So maybe this will all blow over, some entrepreneurs will be left with warehouses full of remaindered ”Sugar T–s” T-shirts, and we can all get back to tut-tutting over Lindsay Lohan’s work ethic.

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