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Liam Neeson Claims There’s “A Bit of a Witch Hunt” Going on in Hollywood

Liam Neeson has tossed himself on the male-celebrity trash pile with some recent comments about Hollywood’s reckoning with pervasive sexual assault.

“There is a bit of a witch hunt happening, too,” he said on Ireland’s Late Late Show. “There’s some people, famous people, being suddenly accused of touching some girl’s knee or something, and suddenly they’re being dropped from their program or something.”

Neeson specifically mentioned Garrison Keillor, who was dismissed from his A Prairie Home Companion program on Minnesota Public Radio after allegations against him arose. According to Keillor, he was dismissed because he “put my hand on a woman’s bare back. I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it.” However, the alleged victim has not spoken to the press, and Minnesota Public Radio said in a statement that they received “a formal complaint from an individual that includes multiple allegations related to Garrison’s behavior.” So for the moment, we only have Keillor’s side of the story, but the mention of “multiple allegations” seems to suggest there’s more at play.

Neeson also mentioned the allegations against Dustin Hoffman. “The Dustin Hoffman thing, I’m on the fence about that,” Neeson continued. “Because when you’re doing a play and you’re with your family, other actors, technicians, you do silly things. You do silly things and it becomes kind of superstitious; if you don’t do it every night you think it’s going to jinx the show. I think Dustin Hoffman was … I’m not saying I’ve done similar things like what he did. Apparently, he touched another girl’s breast and stuff. But it’s childhood stuff what he was doing.”

However, Neeson also acknowledged, “There is a movement happening and it’s healthy and it’s across every industry. The focus seems to be on Hollywood at the minute, but it’s across every industry.”

As always with this sort of hand-wringing, Neeson seems to be confusing “being found chronically unable to behave professionally” with “being convicted of a crime.” Men who have allegedly repeatedly demonstrated their inability to behave professionally are now going to have trouble finding work. Employers are now saying that if you could not manage to treat all your colleagues as people, you’re not someone they want to hire. That’s not a witch hunt. That’s life.

This growing suggestion that sexual harassment is the one habitual unprofessionalism that should be tolerated is truly … telling. I don’t see anyone saying the same about throwing pencils at your coworkers, hurling verbal abuse at them, or being chronically late. “Treat your colleagues with respect or get fired” is just not that difficult an imposition.

While every allegation deserves to be examined individually, it is absurd to suggest that there there is some sort of “witch hunt” happening when Woody Allen and T.J. Miller are still finding work despite the allegations against them. Powerful men need to worry less about the “witch hunt” and more about the victim-blaming, victim-erasing culture they’ve been benefiting from.

(Via Entertainment Weekly; image: Shutterstock)

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