Liam Neeson’s recent interview in which he admitted trying to seek revenge for the rape of a close friend many years ago has understandably gone viral but for the wrong reasons. Most of the commentary is about racist this and racist that which, in my opinion, is not the case. This story is about rape and not race. Rape and the effects it can have on the survivors loved ones. The emotional anguish that can be understandably directed into anger and a need for revenge and retribution for the devastating physical and mental hurt and pain caused to that loved one.
Neeson didn’t start that story with the intention of telling the world that he hated black people. He hated the person who had raped his close friend who happened to be black. And at the mere mention of this ethnicity, the racist flags were hoisted up to full mast. As it is, it can be difficult to get us men to admit anything emotionally about our feelings. So when you get a scenario like this when genuine feelings of shame, guilt, horror, revenge, violent intent, sorrow and regret are being openly admitted and expressed and are consequently, at the same time being rapidly shot down. Who could blame us for ‘keeping a lid on it’ and pushing them deep into that dark place feelings and emotions go.
We live in an ever increasing politically-correct world that is so censoring of anything less than impeccable intentions and a perfect history. I am sure artificial intelligence will have to, at some point, take over all human interviews, award presentations(Oscars!!) and maybe all round communications due to the lack of anyone who hasn’t put a ‘foot out of place’ for their entire lives.
Neeson talked openly and honestly about that primal feeling, that is not always positive, when a loved one is hurt under criminal conditions. These desires for revenge after a sexual assault would not be uncommon. There can be a shock factor followed by a shame of not being able to prevent the attack, what could have been done differently followed by a contemplation of retribution. Men are conditioned in society to be the ‘protectors’ and may feel powerless in circumstances like this one which in turn triggers a desire for control and wanting to harm the person who inflicted such pain on to the loved one. Ironically, just like the survivors of sexual assault, the ones closest might also need support in dealing with the emotions that arise. He talked about how horrible those violent feelings and intentions were, how ashamed he was of them and how counterproductive they are in solving anything. Neeson’s story was rape-related and not race related, and it is a pity that this has generally been overlooked.
If you can imagine Neeson’s loved one sitting him down and telling him the story of her being raped by this man. If you think about it for a moment. A story of a woman going about her daily business and routine. Then there is this man who rapes her. A horrendous physical and mental assault that may never leave her the same again. She may never feel the same, think the same, trust the same. Can you see her telling her story? Can you hear her? Broken and dejected, possibly feeling like she is left to die inside. Can you picture the scene? Now imagine she is your wife. Your mother. Your daughter. Your sister. Your niece. How would you feel? How would you react? Would it be in the same way as Neeson, would you want to hurt that man or even kill him for what he did and inflicted on your loved one? You would probably want to know who did it, what he looked like and right or wrong, go after him. So, it was a black man, ok, as Neeson puts it “I’m going to find that ‘black bastard’ and kill him”. It might have been an Indian man, ok, I’m going to find that ‘Indian bastard’ and kill him. Alternatively, it might have been a Spanish man, ok, I’m going to find that ‘Spanish bastard’ and kill him. And it might have been a white man, no problem, I’m going to find that ‘white bastard’ and kill him.
I don’t think Liam Neeson was after this man because of his colour. He was after him because he raped his friend. This man is the villain of this story. Neeson was after what he thought at the time was justice, a righteous revenge, an eye for an eye. Whether he was right or wrong, well that is an opinion that is up to you.