You probably heard yesterday that Liam Neeson decided to reveal that he once walked around for a few days searching for a ‘black bastard’ to get into a ruckus with and kill in order to get revenge for the rape of a close friend.
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Obviously these comments are completely abhorrent in 2019 – you can’t just go around saying you want to kill a black person (or any type of person for that matter) because someone of a similar ilk raped you friend – but the context of the situation Neeson had found himself in was lost in the majority of articles about the comments. Many of them chose to just focus on the comments themselves and not really focus on the fact that they were made about forty years ago and Neeson was disgusted with himself now because of them.
Given the media furore, Neeson needed to do something to set the world at ease, and he chose to do this at the earliest possible opportunity, appearing on Good Morning America and saying the following:
The topic of our film is revenge. The lady journalist was asking me ‘how do you tap into that’ and I remembered an incident nearly 40 years ago where a very dear friend of mine was brutally raped. I was out of the country and when I came back she told me about this and she handled the situation herself and her rapist incredibly bravely I have to say that but I had never felt this feeling before which was a primal urge to lash out. I asked her ‘did you know the person’. It was a man. ‘His race’, she said ‘it was a black man’. I thought ok and after that there were some nights I went out deliberately into black areas looking to be set upon so that I could unleash physical violence. And I did it maybe four or five times until it caught myself on and it really shocked me. It shocked me and it hurt me. I did seek help, I went to a priest, I was reared Catholic. Believe it or not, power-walking, two hours every day to get rid of this. I’m not racist. This was nearly 40 years ago. I was brought up in the north of Ireland and brought up in the troubles, the 60s, 70s and early 80s. There was a war going on in the north of Ireland and I had acquaintances that were involved in the troubles. A catholic would be killed and the next day a protestant would be killed. I grew up surrounded by that but I was never part of it. If she’d have said an Irish, a Scot, A Brit, a Lithuanian, I know it would have had the same effect. I was trying to show honour, stand up for my dear friend in this terrible medieval fashion and I’m a fairly intelligent guy and that’s why it shocked me when I came down to Earth after having these horrible feelings. Luckily no violence occurred, ever. It’s a learning curve. We all pretend we’re all politically correct, I mean in this country and my own country too, sometimes you just scratch the surface. You discover this racism and bigotry and it’s there.
Damn, I haven’t seen this interview but all reviews of it say that it’s very weird and awkward, but I think Neeson comes out of it slightly better than he did yesterday. I mean everyone is going to focus on the fact he wandered around looking for a black man to beat up and kill, but when he explains the rage that he felt and that he would have thought it about any subsection of society it kind of makes it more relatable and not the racist attack that it was originally hyped up to be. The fact he seems visibly disgusted and shook about his behaviour forty years ago – when the world was a very different place – should count in his favour as well, although thousands of people probably won’t see it that way, but even though his original behaviour is very worrying, I think he’s owned it and explained it with this statement. Unfortunately his comments will probably be used by at least one person to justify a racist attack and as a celebrity he should probably know better than to be saying stuff like this because of the obvious connotations. Should do better. For more Liam Neeson, here’s a video of him staring at you for ten hours. Just what you needed after that story.