On days like today, thank the lord for the Today programme – always there for us, rumbling Radio Fourly through the issues, white men letting other white men off the hook, through thick and thin, in perpetuity.
Newspaper enthusiasts may have noticed the front pages this morning, dominated by the story about Liam Neeson admitting that in his past he went around with a cosh, looking for a “black bastard” to kill, because he was angry a woman he knew had been raped.
He felt ashamed of his former behaviour, which was his reason for mentioning it in an interview, but that isn’t really enough to wash away the shocking racist language and, erm, intent to kill:
Luckily though, with the tone of measured level-headedness so often reserved for white privilege, the Today programme brought on a psychotherapist known as an “agony uncle”, Phillip Hodson – a man who has a book called Men: An Investigation into the Emotional Male – to explain Neeson’s story.
“As he himself admits, his emotion got the better of him,” was presenter John Humphrys’ inevitable opening comment. That pesky emotional thirst for violence against other races, eh? Those hysterical, highly-strung men! Time of the month is it, love?
Hodson informed us of “an attitude towards grief that traditional males exhibit, which is their way of dealing with loss and pain”.
“So it need not have been race,” Humphrys was quick to respond. “It just happens in this case to be about race.”
Phew! It’s not actually about race, guys. An urge to attack and kill someone because of their skin colour, despite them having done nothing wrong, is NOT about race, gottit?
Luckily, the poet and former young person’s Laureate for London Caleb Femi cut through the entirely unnecessary psychological analysis about “fear of the feminine in men” that ensued:
“I think, first of all, the fact that he was ready to take any black lives over the individual actions of one particular black person shows how meaningless and inconsequential black lives are to many people in society,” he said. “Especially the fact that we as black men are collectively responsible for the misdeeds of somebody else.”
But Humphrys was clearly still keen to find a motive other than racism:
“But he does say that this happened many years ago, he is deeply ashamed of it. It’s quite interesting that he has actually spoken about it. He’s got a film coming out and maybe that’s what it is, but maybe it’s more profound than that.”
Again, it was down to Femi to point out that “the fact that he’s able to tell his story in such a way demonstrates the privilege he has and also a sense of feeling safe enough that there wouldn’t be repercussions”.
Femi said Neeson is “in a place where he’s cushioned and applauded for having such a realisation”.
“Ok well, I don’t know about applaud,” came Humphrys’ characteristically dismissive conclusion.
Glad we cleared that one up then, guys. Same time tomorrow.