"But my immediate reaction was... I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they?
I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody – I’m ashamed to say that – and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know?
So that I could, kill him.”
For any celebrity to admit ever feeling this way, behaving this way - is un-remarkably uncommon. Liam Neeson’s admission, in which he acknowledge his behaviour was ‘awful, terrible’ and that he learned from it, was met with a tide of pro-active misunderstanding and grandstanding from Twitter, and less surprisingly, Piers Morgan.
Piers Morgan is known for taking deeply controversial views like gun violence is bad and ‘Viva la Vida’ is a great song. So the absence of empathy there was not a surprise.
But the reaction on twitter is much more discouraging. Considering how ‘Woke’ we are as a society, there is a depressingly regressive streak in an era of otherwise progressive trends. In an age when diversity and inclusion is on the mast-head for every organisation going, we’re still struggling as an online society to give a space for baby boomers to admit the error of their ways (when they want to) as Mr Neeson very much did here.
Instead we’re still insisting on criticising and shaming an older generation, many of whom react without Neeson’s honesty or candidness, but by further entrenching in their views.
Particularly tone-deaf responses included criticising Liam Neeson for his racism and sexism.
Given his comments the race charge is impossible to dispute, but given he made them willingly, candidly and as evidence of his unhinged reaction to violence against a relative (where no justice was served), it feels like many have missed the point, He appears to have been was acknowledging his own flaws as a human being as well as the impact of violence on a person and their family.
One jaw droppingly tone-deaf response also criticised Neeson for his behaviour through the lens of sexism and patriarchal dominance:
‘ It’s also haunted by patriarchy in the way he turned his friend’s sexual assault into a platform for his own need to prove his male dominance’’
The intellectual balletic leaps required to get there are worth their own article, but they speak of a trend where people increasingly apply the filter they wish to a situation, allowing them to distort and criticise a very human moment.
One problem, that the left needs to find a way to address - is that a huge proportion of the population, riding on the wave of positive progressive energy (epitomised by MeToo), now sees themselves as Hammers. They are determined to continue smashing up the patriarchy and racial inequality one tweet at a time. . but Hammers are imprecise tools and on their best day, tend to see everything as nail.
Liam Neeson, like a great many others, may just be a broken shelf that needed careful fixing, rather than something needing torn down.