In an interview on Ireland’s The Late Late Show, Liam Neeson described the Me Too Movement as “a bit of a witch hunt ” and, in the spirit of actual witch hunts, Twitter wants to dunk him in a pond and see if he floats.
When asked by the show’s host, Ryan Tubridy, to elaborate on his depiction of the movement devoted to helping survivors of sexual violence, the actor cited Garrison Keillor’s recent dismissal from Minnesota Public Radio as an example of someone unfairly affected by women coming together to name names. “There are some famous people being suddenly accused of touching some girl’s knee, or something, and then suddenly they’ve been dropped from their program,” Neeson said. Keillor has been accused of inappropriate behavior by someone who worked with him. He approached an Associated Press reporter hours before MPR announced their plans to fire him, not only breaking the news but defending himself. His accusations are unique because neither MPR nor the woman mentioned have shared specifics about the multiple allegations which leaves only one side of the story being told – his own.
Neeson then commented on the accusations against Dustin Hoffman, specifically those made by actress Kathryn Rossetter, who said that Hoffman groped her during “almost every show” in the 1984 Broadway production of Death By a Salesman. That is not the only accusation levied against the actor. He has also been accused of exposing himself to a minor, sexual harassment, and sexually assaulting three women.
Neeson’s retelling of both of the men’s accusations diminishes the issue at hand. He praises their work and, in the case of Keillor, leaves no room for the other side of the story. When speaking about Hoffman, he said, “When you’re doing a play and you’re with your family, other actors, you do silly things.” Neeson makes a passing assumption that Hoffman might have continued the behavior out of a theater tradition of “superstition.” Silly things? Women have had their experiences and opinions reduced or placated by the word “silly” for too long. Assault is not silly. Groping is not silly. Unprofessional behavior of any kind is not silly. He then minimized the inappropriate behavior, calling it “childhood stuff.”
Neeson’s confirmation bias was, unsurprisingly, not well received.
Without skipping a beat, Twitter made it clear that the movement was anything but a witch hunt.
The #MeToo movement isn’t a witch hunt. At best, it’s a public warlock tagging program.
— Jennifer Wright (@JenAshleyWright) January 13, 2018
One commentor pointed out that many of the men accused were subjected to far lighter consequences for their actions, if they face consequences at all. “Woody Allen is still making movies, Dustin Hoffman is still making movies, Harvey Winestein isn’t in jail, James Franco just won a Critics Choice Award,” they wrote. The tweet continues by illustrating that the ramifications for women, whether they came forward or not, outweigh the effects the accusations have had on men. “What’s a witch hunt is women who lost their jobs, opportunities, housing, and lives for not letting men cop a feel.”
Woody Allen is still making movies, Dustin Hoffman is still making movies, Harvey Weinstein isn’t in jail, James Franco just won a critics choice award.
What’s a witch hunt is women who lost their jobs, opportunities, housing, and lives for not letting a man cop a feel.
— Jade (@JadeBurnam) January 13, 2018
Writer and political commentator Keith Olbermann made a very good point. Neeson’s retelling of Garrison Keillor’s story was only acknowledging the perspective of Keillor.
“A bit of a witch hunt” – and worse, his stand was for Garrison Keillor, whose story he told in great detail without ever mentioning (or perhaps knowing) that version was only the one Keillor told.
Also stop making the same damn movie every year. https://t.co/PEqT7d45nT
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) January 13, 2018
Twitter was all too quick to jokingly comment on the lack of similarities between the Me Too movement and the witch hunts that actually occurred in European and early American history. If no one gets dunked in a pond, is it really a witch hunt?
Whenever the #metoo campaign is described as a ‘witch hunt’ I’m like: YOU USED TO DUNK US IN WATER TO SEE IF WE HAD MAGICAL WITCHY POWERS AND IF WE FLOATED THEN YOU KILLED US ANYWAY BECAUSE WE WERE FEMALES WHO OWNED CATS AND CRIED ONCE. YOU WANT A WITCH HUNT?! IT CAN BE ARRANGED
— Nicola Thorp (@nicolathorp_) January 13, 2018
all these men saying it’s a “witch hunt” and yet we haven’t been allowed to throw any of them in a pond
— Abby Tomlinson (@twcuddleston) January 13, 2018
Also, there is this humorous technicality:
It’s not a witch hunt because boy witches are called warlocks
— 🍷 Byx ☕️ (@MissByx) January 13, 2018
Now that movements like Me Too and Time’s Up have gained significant momentum, people have been trying to discredit them and those who have come forward. If there is doubt, then the magnitude of the problem can be questioned rather than addressed.
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