When a man confesses to having previously harboured feelings of which he is now thoroughly ashamed, then he should be applauded for his honesty and courage, not vilified and punished. Liam Neeson did not attempt to justify his reaction to the rape of a close friend but sought counselling, fully realising that his behaviour was irrational and dangerous ("Neeson's murderous rape rage shouldn't kill his career).

Human beings are social animals and as such share the many instinctive characteristics commonly found in other social species. Where we readily feel love, loyalty and acceptance for those in our own group we, unfortunately, too readily, tend to hate, loathe and distrust those outside our group. If you are abused in the street by a thug, then he is just a thug. Put a Celtic scarf or a Rangers scarf on your abuser and he becomes a Fenian thug or an Orange thug, at one stroke condemning not just your assailant but his whole community. This is the absurdity of sectarianism and racism.

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Some people are more emotional than others and may be more prone to such irrationality but few of us are totally immune. That Neeson was wrong in his initial response to his friend’s rape is not disputed but the accusation that he is racist is absurd. He said in the same interview that, had the rapist been a Scotsman or a Lithuanian, rather than a black man, then he would have been seeking a man from either of those nationalities on which to wreak his vengeance. Wrong of course, but hardly racist.

Jim Meikle,

41 Lampson Road, Killearn.