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Why Did Mark Wahlberg Commit Hate Crimes In His Youth?

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Is Mark Wahlberg racist? Is he a bully? Well, one thing is certain, he was both of these things in the mid-1980s when he was a teenager, even with the mentoring of his Catholic priest.[1] Back then he committed multiple racist hate crimes in which he called his victims racial slurs and attacked them physically, doing permanent damage to one of his victims.

Here I'd like to explore not only what he did, his response in terms of dealing with these past crimes now, but, also, why he committed these acts of violence. I have a few ideas as to why these incidents happened.

It happened when he was a kid. He was in his mid-teens, in a rough neighborhood, confused, and also on drugs.[2]

Let's explore.

Mark Wahlberg
Credit: David Torcivia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Incidents

It was back in 1986, when Wahlberg was 15. Mark and his gang were chasing a group of Black children who were on their way home from the beach, telling them they didn’t want Black N-Words in the area. The next day the Wahlberg gang caught up with one of their prey who was on a field trip with his class. They stalked the boy and yelled out racial slurs. They threw rocks at the group, hitting a couple of the children. The gang left when the ambulance arrived.

Mark was all so very sorry, and his Catholic priest mentor stayed by his side through thick and thin, even watched him cry in front of the judge.

But two years after he attacked the Black schoolchildren, Mark crept on a middle-aged Vietnamese man who was carrying groceries to his home, and hit him in the head with a heavy stick, calling him a “Vietnamese fu–ing sh-t”. He hit him so hard, it knocked the man out and broke the stick. He fled the scene, approached another Vietnamese man and punched him in the face, causing the man to lose an eye.[3] When the police caught Mark, he admitted, in his own words, to attacking the “slant-eyed g–ks”.[4]

It becomes clear, and it is well-documented, that Mark committed extreme acts of brutality fueled by raging hatred.

60 Minutes Piece Including Interview With Mark's Priest

Why Did It Happen?

Machismo And Manliness

Men are tough, they are soldiers, they are dangerous, they are the bread-winners. Certainly Mark, like all men, was affected by these cultural standards and expectations of what it means to be a man. He was, maybe is, the epitome of all this: He used to drop his pants on stage and show off his abs in Calvin Klein commercials. He is still not above bragging.[5]

The 1980s Era

It was the era of greed and insensitivity; hatred of the poor and blatant racism. It might explain why he got away with it. One has to consider who he is and who his victims were to understand why he was barely punished, considering his crimes. He received 45 days in jail for brutalizing the two Vietnamese men. This was the era of openly stereotyping Asians in movies[6], the decade of Reaganomics and Dirty Harry using inner-city youth as target practice.


Mark was raised by a single mother in a rough Boston neighborhood. He was mostly unsupervised and he and his gang of friends were basically drug using criminals[7]. It’s hard to argue all of that would not have an effect on behavior.

Mark Wahlberg, Star Of Film And Former Underwear Model And Rapper
Credit: By Eva Rinaldi (Mark Wahlberg) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

How Has He Answered All Of This?

Well, first off, he claims to have found religion. That might be a good escape, but it’s no answer. He says he’s going to church. He talks about right and wrong in the strangest ideological terms, including the typical sexually repressive way of his religion.[8] Though, what’s noticeable, is that he can’t quite take responsibility for the things he says.[9] His old priest friend is still his buddy and he donates to the neighborhood church; but these supposed good turns in Mark’s life don’t tell us anything about what he thinks about the cruel things he has done. It doesn’t do much for the Vietnamese guy who lost an eye either.

His priest-mentor admits Mark used to manipulate him and was never much remorseful in court when he put on the tears. Problem is his mischief was dangerous and damaging. Who knows what it took for his victims to get rid of the alienation and injuries they suffered. Mark hasn’t answered for that. Not even with his month and a half in jail when he was 16. And that’s part of the problem: The most Mark says is that he didn’t want to continue that lifestyle because jail wasn’t really for him. He never says what he did was wrong. I think maybe because he doesn’t think it was wrong. He just didn’t like jail. It’s still just all about you, isn’t it, Mark?

And now, when he’s on David Letterman he brushes it off and jokes about his past crimes. He’s really not serious. Which means he really doesn’t care.

He donated money to his priest’s church, but I wonder if he’s done anything for the family of the man he brutalized and maimed permanently or if he’s helped the people who, when they were children, he caused alienation and confusion. Well, not that I know of.

This is not so much indicative of Mark, it’s a statement about us. We are alright with someone who fulfills the image, the manly man, the superstar; no matter how lowly his victims are in our eyes, their lives still, also, count.

This is the question then: What if it hadn’t been Mark? What if it was a Vietnamese man attacking a white woman. Look at how outraged we are with Ariel Castro[10] and Jodi Arias.[11] Notice who the victims are, who the perpetrators are, and what the reaction is. It’s all quite obvious.

Everyone’s life is valuable.

Mark On Letterman Joking About His Past Crimes



Aug 20, 2014 5:54am
Hi Nate, I didn't know this about Mark, but I'm suspecting he had a serious conversion later in life. He was a misguided youth, and the priest, being human, might have been swept along.

People can change. The dramatic story of St. Paul's conversion is one example.

However, I do hope he also made restitution to the victims and their families.
Aug 20, 2014 7:22am
Definitely, ologsinquito. People can change drastically, even within the blink of an eye. Glad you stopped by.
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  1. "Mark Wahlberg: Daily Communicant." Catholic Vote. 27/06/2014 <Web >
  2. "Rogue Star." Vanity Fair. 27/06/2014 <Web >
  3. "Back In The Day: Marky Mark's Rap Sheet." The Smoking Gun. 27/06/2014 <Web >
  4. "Mark Wahlberg's Turning Point." Model Minority (Via Internet Archive). 27/06/2014 <Web >
  5. "Mark Wahlberg Is Off His Rocker Again, Maybe Because He Never Masturbates." Gawker. 27/06/2014 <Web >
  6. "Long Duk Dong: Last Of The Hollywood Stereotypes." NPR. 27/06/2014 <Web >
  7. "Changing Room." Forbes. 27/06/2014 <Web >
  8. "Catholic Priest Advised Wahlberg To Turn Down?." Advocate. 27/06/2014 <Web >
  9. "Mark Wahlberg On 9/11 Comments: "I Am Not An Actor, I'm A Real Guy From The Streets"." Celebitchy. 27/06/2014 <Web >
  10. "So Brave, Ariel Castro's Kidnap Victims Held Captive For A Decade." Express. 27/06/2014 <Web >
  11. "Jodi Arias Could Join Husband Killer, Vigilante Murderer On Death Row." ABC News. 27/06/2014 <Web >

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