Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s the latest dispatch from the crossroads of faith and culture:

So, here’s what Liam Neeson actually said while promoting Cold Pursuit, a movie about a guy bent on revenge against drug dealers he blames for the death of his son (as reported by Clémence Michallon for The Independent: “There’s something primal – God forbid you’ve ever had a member of your family hurt under criminal conditions,” …“I’ll tell you a story. This is true.”

(He goes on to recount how an unnamed friend told him of her brutal rape.) “She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson says. “But my immediate reaction was…” There’s a pause. “I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.

“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 [Neeson gestures air quotes with his fingers] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could,” another pause, “kill him.”

 Neeson clearly knows what he’s saying, and how shocking it is, how appalling. “It took me a week, maybe a week and a half, to go through that. She would say, ‘Where are you going?’ and I would say, ‘I’m just going out for a walk.’ You know? ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘No no, nothing’s wrong.’”…
“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that,” he says. “And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.”…

“I come from a society – I grew up in Northern Ireland in the Troubles – and, you know, I knew a couple of guys that died on hunger strike, and I had acquaintances who were very caught up in the Troubles, and I understand that need for revenge, but it just leads to more revenge, to more killing and more killing, and Northern Ireland’s proof of that. All this stuff that’s happening in the world, the violence, is proof of that, you know. But that primal need, I understand.”

Now, to me, I’m hearing a guy who, thankfully, didn’t actually carry out the inclinations he is clearly ashamed of ever having. How are we ever going to have that “honest conversation about race” we’re told we should be having when we set out to destroy the career of someone who is remorsefully honest.  Honest conversations require at least some degree of understanding and mercy. Has it not been said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”


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