Liam Neeson – High-Horse Hypocrite

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hollywood hypocrisy

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Let’s face it, Schindler’s List would not have been the same calibre movie with say, Kevin Costner in the lead role.  Liam Neeson is a commanding presence and a great actor. But I’m not feelin’ it for Mr. Neeson any longer, and don’t see myself watching any more of his movies.  Truthfully, I think he’s a bit of a doofus.

The_Grey_PosterNeeson fell out of favour with me starting with his role preparation for the movie “The Grey,” filmed in Canada with British Columbia subbing in for Alaska.  While other actors may prepare for a role in harsh climate or conditions by showering every day for 10 minutes in a cold shower, Neeson prepped for role immersion by eating the meat of a trapped wolf.  At a press conference to promote the movie, Neeson, who was born in County Antrim, said that while some cast members had been sick after eating the wolf meat, he was not fazed by the experience. “I’m Irish, so I’m used to odd stews,” was his attempt at explanation.

In January 2012, British Columbia’s The Province featured an article about the movie’s buying four wolf carcasses from a local trapper, two for props for the movie and two wolves for the cast to eat. Naturally, this act angered environmentalists and animal activists, who were already irate that the movie depicted wolves in a negative light, specifically at a time when gray wolves had recently been removed from the Endangered Species Act in many western American states.  But Sarah Palin gives it five stars! Both the film’s director and Neeson knew, or should have known, that leghold traps are one of the worst ways to kill an animal.  Most animals caught in these traps end up chewing, or nearly chewing off their ensnared limbs in order to escape. Miscellaneous species of animals,  caught in traps intended for fur-bearing targets are killed and then discarded because of their lack of value.  I think leghold traps should be illegal everywhere due to the suffering inflicted, so the ensuing criticism that was heaped on both men was perfectly valid, IMO.

Fast forward to 2014, Neeson has become the unofficial and much vaunted (hat tip to Glen) spokesperson for the NYC carriage trade, whose existence is threatened by Mayor DeBlasio’s edict to remove the carriage operators from New York City.  His ad-hoc discussion of the urban carriage trade wasn’t exactly endorsed by Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show,  where Neeson appeared earlier this week.  Interjecting the issue of the carriage horses was a risk that didn’t quite pay off for Neeson since Stewart rejected his position.

In case the video goes away, here’s a transcript:

NEESON: He wants to close this horse and carriage industry in New York. And there was a poll last week, over 60 percent of New Yorkers want to keep the horse carriage industry in Central Park.

STEWART: Maybe if they put it in the park. I feel bad – we actually live right next door to them. And I always feel bad for them on the streets. It seems like they and a lot of the van traffic don’t get along. The horses –

NEESON: The horse carriage industry, they made the roads in New York. I just want that to rest there.

STEWART: They made the roads? What, are the roads made out of horse (bleep)? What do you mean they made the roads? Construction made the roads. What if they moved it into the park, so the horses wouldn’t have to walk the streets? Maybe that would be the –

trapped horse dies in Ireland

SPCA workers in Offaly spent around eight hours trying to save a horse that became trapped in a drain. The horse was rescued from the water but was extemely weak and suffered from hypothermia. ISPCA fought to save the horse, which initially looked as though it could be successful. Veterinary first aid was given and the horse was dried off and kept warm, even eating some food. While the animal made attempts to get to her feet, she soon weakened and was euthanized.

STEWART: If DYFS – if the Division of Youth and Family Services ever found out that they are keeping their children in 60 square foot stalls and feeding them twice a day buckets of grain, that is not good parenting as far as I’m concerned. No, you feel passionate about this. But it’s – I think there probably is – I think the two sides do not trust each other at all. And unfortunately the horses –

NEESON: He won’t even take a meeting with the horse carriage industry. He is supposed to be representing the New York people.

STEWART: You’re –

NEESON: Dammit!

(Laughter)

STEWART: Is this a job you’ve done? Have you been in that industry before?

NEESON: I know a couple of the guys. I’ve been in the stables quite a few times eating.

(Laughter)

Sulky horse death and abandonment

Irish horse racing is typically done by the “travellers.” They have no licences and no insurance and this type of activity, done on the main commuter roads between Cork and Dublin, is a public liability. It compromises the safety of drivers, pedestrians, and animal welfare. Five men were jailed for racing horses through commuter traffic on one of Ireland’s busiest roads in May 2012. Why don’t we ask Jon Katz, author of the Bedlamfarm blog, to find out if these horses “love their jobs?”

NEESON: It is, Jon. It is a fulfilling life.

STEWART: Well, we don’t know.

NEESON: They are. They’re trained for this.

STEWART: Unless it’s Mr. Ed, you really don’t know. They may look at you and say “neigh.”

Smithfield Horse Market

The Smithfield Horse market is extremely controversial. City council and various animal welfare organizations have campaigned tirelessly to shut the market down for abuses to animals. Traders and buyers have continued using the cobbled area once a month to sell their animals and prices as low as 10 Euros – around seven dollars.An ancient by-law giving traders the right to use the market means that there is little police or council officials can do to remove the horses.

STEWART: Well, they could be trained to sit in a field and eat fermented oats

“The guys,” as Neeson puts it, are the drivers, many of them transplanted Irishmen like himself.  This includes Colm McKeever, a native of County Meath and a friend of Liam’s, who met the actor when McKeever’s wife served as midwife in the birth of the actor’s first son.

They’ll die, you know, darlin,’ says Liam,  of the NYC carriage horses. “The horses are incredibly well-treated. They’re regulated up the wazoo. They get five weeks’ holiday every year.  Tourists love them.”   Along with former Mayor Bloomberg, Neeson also perpetuates the opinion that they’ll all be slaughtered too, and it’ll be the fault of meddling big city liberals, according to him.

I hope Neeson will somehow find a way to highlight the fate of horses in Ireland and elsewhere in Great Britain, where it’s popular to race horses on the commuter highways and evade the garda (police), often crashing the horses and abandoning them, injured.  Ireland also has an ongoing problem with fly-grazing, where horses are illegally grazed on private property without the knowledge or consent of the owners of the property.  I realize that the incidents of cruelty depicted here can and do happen everywhere,  but Ireland,  which has the highest horse population per capita in the whole of Europe, has a huge crisis of horses, with up to 20,000 of the animals currently needing immediate intervention by authorities for abuse and cruelty.  Unlike Neeson,  the horses are not actors and can’t walk away from these situations.

Every animal welfare charity in the country would probably say that Ireland is unique in terms of the volume of abandoned horses all over the country. Although there are no official figures, animal charities estimate that up to 20,000 horses could be owner-less and fending for themselves. So it’s a good litmus test of what’s happening elsewhere in the EU, especially as concerns large, expensive-to-keep animals such as horses, who might be the most disadvantaged four-legged victims of Ireland’s recession.  Bought as trophy-pets during the Celtic Tiger boom years, homeless horses now run wild in their thousands across the Republic, most abandoned by owners who have no money for their upkeep.    A total of 2,969 stray animals were seized in 2012 of which 72% were euthanised. In contrast, 2,936 horses were seized in 2011 and 54% were slaughtered. There are reportedly 3,000 horses in Dublin alone who need urgent care.

horse+death

The horse was one of eight being unloaded into a field (probably for flygrazing) when she refused to co-operate. After repeatedly trying to coax the mare out of the box, a group of men got extremely violent with her, said a spokeswoman for the Irish Horse and Welfare Trust. She said: “When it refused to get out, the car drove off which sent the horse shooting out the back and it collapsed on the road. They then beat it to get up and it was beaten quite badly because it was so distressed it wasn’t able to get up.” Here the poor foal stands over its mother, his or her own fate looking very bleak.

So why is Neeson seemingly unconcerned about these horses being abused, neglected, and slaughtered?  Does he do anything at all to expose this crisis? Sure, he’s not obligated to do so,  but it’s not like the horse industry couldn’t use his help as a spokesperson. Canadian singer/songwriter Jann Arden is speaking out on behalf of Canada’s wild horses.  The Irish Farmers’ Association has been calling on the Government to introduce a scheme to provide financial assistance to horse owners to tackle the growing problem of unwanted horses. Maybe Neeson should advocating on behalf of these horses?  I imagine someone his stature could lend a credible voice to these concerns,  as Jann Arden is trying to do for Canadian horses.

So why does he speak up for horses who, according to the industry, are loved and would never be slaughtered, whilst ignoring horses who ARE being slaughtered in his native country? A potential explanation turned up on the Tuesday’s Horse blog, the official blog of the Horse Fund.

Vivian Farrell commented on her own blog post:

“This is not about the horses with Neeson. It’s like the Hispanics who scream when you try to ban their cruel horse tripping events that it is a personal attack on them and their rights to be in the US, blah, blah, blah. I was married to a very mild-mannered Irishman who worked with horses all his life; gentle soul. Yet he said during the troubles that he would hide IRA members even if they had killed children because no true Irishman would turn against his brother . . . I was stunned. So no surprise here about Neeson.”

Horse beaten and mowed down

This horse was mown down by a quad bike and reportedly beaten to death with a wooden plank in a council estate. The garda tried to intervene, but were deterred by locals throwing bottles at them. Anyone else think the garda are the most ineffective police force anywhere? How bad can it be for animals who live here when the police are too afraid to intervene on their behalf?

But her comment was met with disdain when urban carriage supporters retaliated by questioning the status of the charity behind the blog by asking about the status of The Horse Fund’s 990s.  Of course, this is a common tactic of Humanwatchers and their ilk, when someone writes something they don’t like – they set about attacking the credentials or status of their charity. They start poking through Guidestar and see if they can dig up any dirt on the person making the “inflammatory” post.  And Ms. Farrell no sooner wrote those words making a comparison to Mexican rodeos than the quintessential horse tripper himself, Randy Janssen made an appearance to support urban carriages,   denounce the ASPCA, and promote horse tripping on a different site.  Ms. Farrell is not only wise, but she’s psychic! And that about rounds out the support for the NYC urban carriages –  Humanewatchers, the Cavalry Group,  United Horsemen,  and now eaters of wolves and charreadors!

I try not to take offence at the politics in movies, and I don’t really care that much whether James T. Kirk was inspired by John F. Kennedy or whether Zero Dark Thirty fails to point out that torture is immoral.  I don’t think we need political correctness in movies or television, because they often portray periods where societal attitudes or government policy were controversial.  So, it doesn’t bother me that Neeson has taken a stance in favour of urban NYC Carriages, only that while doing so, he has seemingly ignored the chaos in the country of his birth.  He apparently does so out of allegiance to the Irish, rather than casting a critical lens on the industry.  Would he speak out if the drivers were predominately Serbian or Italian?  I don’t know, but I rather doubt it.  But the next time he’s in town and hanging with his buddies on 59th street, perhaps he can get in-character by eating some oats that have been spilled out into the street amongst the pigeon droppings, just for authenticity’s sake of course.

And next time Neeson comes to Canada, instead of eating an inhumanely trapped wild animal, I hope he would speak out for them instead.

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About heatherclemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out http://boinc.berkeley.edu/ if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic (but not crazy) vegetarian, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - http://iwl.me/ Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

17 responses »

  1. Never was a fan…absolutely no chance of it now. It was so unnecessary to eat a wolf…he is a bully with no imagination. He can not imagine what it is like for those horses working in that traffic all their lives…someone needs to ask him how much he would like to be stuck in traffic in all kinds of weather every day. …..for someones else’s pleasure.

  2. Reblogged this on Comedyflyer's Blog and commented:
    Never was a fan…absolutely no chance of it now. It was so unnecessary to eat a wolf…he is a bully with no imagination. He can not imagine what it is like for those horses working in that traffic all their lives…someone needs to ask him how much he would like to be stuck in traffic in all kinds of weather every day. …..for someones else’s pleasure.

  3. Perhaps, if Liam were at home with the blokes, he’d be a horse-beater too. Being a movie star with so many eyes upon him, he doesn’t have the opportunity to test his manhood by getting physical with the boys. Perhaps, he did a little animal abuse in his younger years. He may miss the thrill of it, so, next best thing, defend others right to do so.

  4. I must have been living under a rock because I did not know about Neeson eating wolf meat. I had no interest in the movie because of how they were portraying wolves but I had no idea about how far they actually went. That’s awful! I had respect for Neeson given how devoted he seemed to his wife, and how “unusual” that is in Hollywood. But no longer. I saw his interview about carriage horses and read more of his comments on the same subject. It’s a shame that he would rather defend an industry he obviously knows little about rather than educating himself or finding out the facts. Thank you Heather, for another wonderful and enlightening blog.

  5. Um, Liam Neeson LIVES in NYC.

    Unlike you.

    Neeson is speaking out about something happening in the place where he lives.

    Unlike you.

    Neeson is speaking out about something he has firsthand information about, as he has been in our stables.

    Unlike you.

    Did you hurt yourself with that reach, trying to cobble together a theme for this dumb entry to match the Hollywood graphics you were eager to use?

    People should only comment on things from the country they hail from?

    Wouldn’t that then mean that you should stick to issues in Canada?

    • Chakras out-of-sorts today? I’m waving a crystal in your direction to restore harmony. You write to me as if you think I care. Why does it matter where either Neeson or I live? But if only people from NYC proper can weigh-in on the carriage controversy, how many of your supporters would that eliminate? Why is it that the only suitable commentators can be those who’ve visited the stables personally?

      To get an idea of the ridiculousness of your suggestion let’s draw an analogy between the ability to critique what goes on in the urban carriage industry in NYC and any other subject matter. For instance, can you quote the Koran? If not, your opinions on Islam are invalid. Can you quote Karl Marx? If not, then you have no right to critique liberalism. How about Stan Lee? If you can’t speak eloquently about comics, perhaps your opinion should not be heard. I’ve also never been to war, nor have I met Sarah Palin, but I have very definite opinions on both of those topics.

      Perhaps you should reconsider being part of a “coalition” that seeks to harass people who disagree with you? Maybe you should just mind your own business in NYC and avoid involvement in issues that you cannot personally validate outside of New York?

      I am not seeking your approval. This is my electronic home, therefore, be forewarned that blog comments are my property. I’m in charge of the remote. Neeson can advocate for anything he likes from anywhere in the world. As can I. Most of the 100+ blog posts on this site are strictly Canadian content. Not that I’d expect you to know this, since sniping on a blog post is the most effort one can expect from you.

  6. I gather you are moderating the replies so as to only show the ones that agree with or are favorable to you? That’s OK, but don’t try to pretend to be objective or open to any other valid points of view, of which there are many but are merely wasted typing time if you delete them. In any case the word you are looking for in the first sentence of paragraph four is vaunted not vaulted. I am sure there are more, but I would rather have a burger than read the rest of your screed.

    • Thank you for your critique Glen, I appreciate the correction! I do my best editing after I hit the Publish button. I shall get it changed up next time I’m in WordPress. Cheers. Oh and be a dear and proof the rest for me? Muah!

  7. This article is nothing but anti Irish bias by a conservative loyalist Canadian who knows nothing of the Carriage industry in New York. The author’s juxtaposition of animal abuse in Ireland by Travellers is unmitigated racism and hatred for Liam Neeson. America should invade Canada and use it for storage space. Canada eh, where everybody is in bed by 9pm except on the weekends when they stay up late till 9.30pm.

    • Ah c’mon now, the Brits luv Canadians! The reason I know this is because my dad is from the UK. But to be honest, I’m bored of your toxically thick, hackneyed clichés and your class structure. And your contribution here sounds like something that would have been said in the 70’s on that old Britcom, “Are You Being Served.” Furthermore, I am not a member of the Canadian Tea Party nor am I subject to any conservative leanings whatsoever. Regarding your claim that I am racist against any group – all ideas and behaviours MUST be open to criticism – which includes the Travellers or Roma. Any group that believes it has some sort of insulation against critique is guilty of “ethnic narcisscism.”

  8. I believe that for Neeson, this is an exercise is garnering personal publicity. I don’t see anything about his utterings that indicate he gives the slightest care for horses. He certainly doesn’t seem to know much about them. I’ve come across people who like to hang out with the horse abusing travellers, drinking. It’s a great social interaction for some people. It doesn’t take long for such a person to start believing that they know the issues (and think they know about horses) Peer pressure can be mighty to accept the values of the group you are socialising with. I think he sees himself as some hip dude who is down with the carriage drivers and so cool he can hang with tough travellers. Reeks of desperation to me and also mid life crisis.

    Someone really ought to tell him to either educate himself fully about the issues or just keep quiet, for the sake of his own embarrassment.

    We have a traveller site locally to us, I drive past it every day, I see horses tethered on the side of the road with nothing to eat or drink. I regularly see them out in their trotting rigs on main roads and the police and the RSPCA do nothing. I have given up reporting them to the RSPCA for the state of the horses in the fields around our village. I’ve taken horses hay and hauled buckets of water over fences in high summer, when these poor animals had nothing to eat or drink.

    I have known these travellers for over 20 years, and I have never seen even one animal in their care be treated with kindness or cared for in an acceptable way that meets even basic welfare standards. The travellers on this site also breed dogs and cats and turn up at horse sales selling the other animals from the car park. These animals are usually in the most appalling condition, sick, malnourished, deformed, full of parasites internal and external. Again, the RSPCA who attend these sales are scared (like the police) to tackle these people, because history shows that every time they are brought to account, they claim they are being victimised because they are “Irish”

    It’s nothing to do with racism or the persecution of minorities, it’s about the responsible stewardship of animals.

    We have a small charity in the UK who monitors horse sales here. Equine Market Watch UK (won’t put link as not sure that you allow it in comments. They are on Facebook and Twitter and are worth a look-see, they do very good and much needed work. Their accounts of some sales they have attended are very harrowing.

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