Norway's foreign minister on why Breivik didn't have a special, secret trial

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37 Responses to “Norway's foreign minister on why Breivik didn't have a special, secret trial”

  1. GawainLavers says:

    Nice to see at least one nation on this planet confront tragedy with courage and honor.

  2. ctgreybeard says:

    The knee-jerk reaction would be to treat him as “something special” (in a bad way) and, thus, validate his actions.  It takes courage to treat him, even in the light of his horrific actions, as the common criminal that he is.  By trivializing [need a better word!] his beliefs we defuse his intended statement.

  3. digi_owl says:

    Al-Qaeda is basically right wing, The only difference between them and the typical right wingers of Europa and North America are the peculiarities of the values they claim to defend. Everything else is cookie cutter.

    Adam Curtis covers it nicely here: http://archive.org/details/ThePowerOfNightmares

  4. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Oh, please.  He absolutely received special treatment.  How many defendants get a specially constructed courtroom for their audience and press?  They made him a media star.

    • Xof says:

      Yesbut.

      The point is that the standard Norwegian justice system could handle the case, rather than having to create a military tribunal or some other wart on the side of their jurisprudence.

      • Brainspore says:

        It wasn’t really all that long ago that the U.S. felt the same way about scumbags like Timothy McVeigh. Maybe the prospect of taking away due process doesn’t seem as appealing when the perpetrator looks like a regular white dude.

        • ChicagoD says:

          The U.S. regularly tries people charged with heinous, mass crimes in the regular court system. In fact, the only exception has been people captured abroad. The Colorado shooter, for instance, will certainly be processed through a normal Colorado state court. Zacarias Moussaoui was tried in a normal Federal court as well.

          I don’t know where else the Norwegians would try a man captured in Norway for crimes in Norway. The U.S. would try him in a normal court as well.

    • ookluh says:

      Wow, I think that you should go back and reread that article, because you really missed the point in an epic way.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        If by ‘missed the point’, you mean disagreed with the point.  It’s not like Mr. Breivik was in any danger of being disappeared into a secret star chamber in Norway.  It would have been quite possible to give him a standard trial without turning it into a media circus.

        • Stig Norland says:

          If Mr Breivik wasn’t separated from other inmates, he would have been killed by them, quite certainly. As to him having a “penthouse”, giving him 2 rom cell with training facilities, was a practical way of solving his rights, while also protecting him from other inmates.

          With regards to the media circus, the press really behaves in a immature way, and have been granted too much access the that bastard. However we have laws and persons persecuted have rights, and his reasons for doing what he did, have some informational value. I hope he will be locked up forever and forgotten by history.

          • Lemoutan says:

            If Mr Breivik wasn’t separated from other inmates, he would have been killed by them, quite certainly.

            Really? You’d don’t appear to have much confidence in the internal safety systems of the Norwegian prison system. Obviously I can imagine what you say happening in the UK and the USA – and I can see that maybe you’ve picked that up from TV and film drama – but in that nice civilised Norway country thing?

        • Colin Curry says:

          Is the judicial system to blame for making it a media circus though? Media was granted access sure, but I suspect the media is given access to most Norwegian criminal proceedings. Restricting their access would have amounted to special treatment, which is exactly what Norwegians wanted to avoid.

    • starfish and coffee says:

        Not sure how ‘special’ the courtroom was. A bit of fiddling with the logistical and safety aspects perhaps. What else was ‘special’ about it?

    • Tore Sinding Bekkedal says:

      Your problem is with the architecture?

      This was a big trial. So big that we needed a bigger courtroom. The court decided which parts could be broadcast and which could not, as they do with other trials. Put in a nerdy way: The algorithm stayed the same, just that most of the variables were so much larger.

      The media made him a media star. Do you really expect the media to ignore this? Would it be a good thing if they did?

      Considering that all this media attention is showered on him which is not going away, wasn’t it best to create a press room so that journalists could do their job in an orderly fashion without being a pain to everyone?

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        This was a big trial.

        If one trial is bigger than another, then you’ve already lost the idea of equal justice. It was staged like a reality show.

        The media made him a media star…Considering that all this media attention is showered on him which is not going away, wasn’t it best to create a press room so that journalists could do their job in an orderly fashion without being a pain to everyone?

        You can’t argue that the media did this and then turn around and argue in favor of the government creating special facilities to accommodate the media doing it.

        • Tore Sinding Bekkedal says:

          If one trial is bigger than another, then you’ve already lost the idea of equal justice. It was staged like a reality show.

          Sorry, what? So you’re saying that unless car theft with a single defendant and a single witness – and 77 murders (with hundreds of defendants and 15 television-linked courtrooms to defendants around the country, tens of witnesses and experts, and over 100 accredited journalists) are equally costly trials – they are not equally fair? How on Earth do you suggest that would work?

          And what gives with the use of the word «staged»? Are you suggesting the trial isn’t fair, or are you suggesting that trials should not be staged but rather grow organically by grass-roots movements? 

          You can’t argue that the media did this and then turn around and argue in favor of the government creating special facilities to accommodate the media doing it.

          What on earth are you ranting on about? The media would have to cover this in a free society. Suggesting anything else is an absurdity. You can argue the editorial decisions made by the press (and I have done so frequently) but that is not the same as saying that their job should be made as difficult as possible.

          There was a press room, and the press had court-censored access to the CCTV feed used to allow victims from around the country to follow the trial in their home county.

  5. Mordicai says:

    Norway’s Foreign Minister: Good at His Job.

  6. Schmorgluck says:

    Honestly, at no point did I expect any less from Norwegians.

  7. Boris Bartlog says:

    It’s good that they haven’t thrown out the judicial process in dealing with him. They’re still playing games by trying to declare him insane, though. 

    • nyrge says:

      Norway pioneered that whole thing where a psychiatric expert declares you insane. In my opinion, it never worked as intended, and the trial has put the credibility of the entire field of court psychiatry into question in the mind of the public. I’m expecting to see some aftershocks there. However, if it comes to a criminal law reform now, chances of an improvement do not look good.

    • scav says:

      But he clearly is. There is an obvious and indisputable disconnect between his beliefs and reality, and within his delusional belief system it was OK to murder children to make some kind of political statement.

      IMO it’s slightly insane to pretend that certain kinds of action create a bright dividing line between mental illness and crime. If he’d consulted a doctor before carrying out his attack, he’d be in a mental hospital now. Why is he *less* crazy because he acted on his hate-filled delusion instead of getting help about it?The biggest danger of letting the court find a defendant “insane” is that it could bypass due process and allow someone to be imprisoned indefinitely without all the troublesome effort of proving beyond reasonable doubt that they committed criminal actions. That is *so* not the case here.

      • Tore Sinding Bekkedal says:

        There is a disconnect between beliefs and reality. This disconnect is called “being right-wing” and it’s a fairly common thing. Seriously, there’s barely any difference between his rhetoric and the Norwegian Progress Party.

        Do you want to start using mental institutions to diagnose away people with political views strongly differing from those of the society at large? That’s Soviet Union stuff. We’re not going to do that in Norway. Besides, his views are mainstream; that’s what worries me.

        You also fail to understand the legal practice around insanity in Norway. You have to have evidence establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt in the first place to achieve a conviction, or a court-ordered treatment. The consideration of sanity is done by medical experts, and reviewed every three years. If you haven’t proven guilt, then the court can’t sentence you to anything.

        he medical nature of the consideration is kind-of the problem here; the field of psychiatry in Norway is simply not prepared to deal with political extremism and thus the relevant institution basically seems to have interpreted many aspects of his behavior as evidence of psychosis when they are so entirely rational in an extraordinary situation. One example is interpreting a fear of detection from the police as a sign of paranoia – I’d claim fearing the police is 100% rational when you’re producing a bomb…

        • Buddy Ogilvy says:

          “There is a disconnect between beliefs and reality. This disconnect is called “being right-wing” and it’s a fairly common thing. Seriously, there’s barely any difference between his rhetoric and the Norwegian Progress Party.”

          You seem to have quite a disconnect between beliefs and reality yourself, comparing ABB with the Progress Party.  Godwin’s law in action, modifyed to fit the typical rhetoric of the norwegian Workers Party.

          • Tore Sinding Bekkedal says:

            Wow. I didn’t know you read Boingboing. 

            Listen, I was in the courtroom the day when he read his opening statement. There was barely a single word there that would not merely be acceptable, but entirely natural in a speech by the leader of the Oslo Progress Party, Christian Tybring-Gjedde.

            I mean, fer crissakes, the leader of the party, Siv Jensen, herself coined the term «snikislamisering»; covert islamization of Norway – as if our Muslim population were a fifth column.
            I don’t give two shits that it’s politically incorrect to say this.  The political difference between ABB and elements of the Progress Party, such as Tybring-Gjedde, are small and easy to miss.

            The only difference between ABB and CTG is that ABB took the logical concequence of the rhetoric and formed a one-man resistance movement.

          • Buddy Ogilvy says:

            “There was barely a single word there that would not merely be acceptable, but entirely natural in a speech by the leader of the Oslo Progress Party, Christian Tybring-Gjedde.”

            So? That doesn’t prove anything but your lack of logic skills. Of course anyone can say something which overlaps with other people’s opinions. Remember the nazis? Their political program was in many ways shared by your own political party, e.g. the age and retirement pensions. But that doesn’t make you a nazi, does it?

            Look at the facts: ABB wanted breeding farms for whites, massive expulsion of muslims, executions of class A traitors, and make himself the emperor of Norway. Or was it Europe?

            If you still claim that these examples “minor differences” from Frp’s political program, then you yourself provide evidence for your own delutions.

          • Tore Sinding Bekkedal says:

            Yes, except the problem with the Nazis was their hatred of different people. Which is the same problem Breivik and Tybring-Gjedde have. Neither Hitler’s nor Breivik’s views on the retirement age are relevant or interesting.

            The problem is their rhetoric when they talk about Muslims – as if they are a group who not only will, but want to, subjugate the country they move to, under a totalitarian caliphate – and us socialists as if we are enablers who cheer them on as dolch-stossers. There’s the insanity, and his actions are fairly rational with that outset.

            I never mentioned FrPs political program – you’re making a straw-man argument. I’m talking about the rhetoric on the subject of immigration and Islam from prominent people, such as Christian Tybring-Gjedde, the leader of Oslo progress party.

            There’s a profound irony in a statement by the chief architect of the Progress Party – «Not all muslims are terrorists, but almost all terrorists are Muslim». Not only is that provably false, but all terrorists in Norwegian history have been right-wing and connected to his own political environment. Breivik was even elected leader of a local Progress Party Youth wing.

        • scav says:

          Extreme right-wing (or any other) beliefs *may* be at odds with reality on any particular point. They only become delusional when they are held without or in spite of conflicting evidence and with a refusal to engage at all with alternative viewpoints. I still wouldn’t recommend a psychiatric consultation for that unless the delusion includes an element of danger to the deluded person or those around them.

          It should be uncontroversial that someone who believes it’s OK to shoot children falls well within the usual criteria of being a danger to themselves and others, and needs psychiatric help.

          I don’t think that any amount of political expression in such a delusion gives the patient a magical “free speech” card that transforms their mental health problem into a form of political discourse to be taken seriously.

          • Tore Sinding Bekkedal says:

            The guards of the Nazi concentration camps sent children to their death by day and went home as caring family fathers. As Voltaire said – those who can make you believe an absurdity can make you commit atrocities.

            Whether or not some characteristic disqualifies a human from humanity is actually a very plastic idea, and politicians who cannot offer people a constructive set of ideas can use divide and conquer to gain power very easily. Look at slavery, antisemitism, and the Srebrenica massacre – there was never a need to resort to psychiatry to explain atrocities. Why depoliticise it now?

          • Buddy Ogilvy says:

            “The guards of the Nazi concentration camps sent children to their death by day and went home as caring family fathers. ”

            Probably not the guards, but the leading officers did. The guards didn’t have families residing with them in Auschwitz. But I get you point. The same point can of course be made for many others who didn’t even believe in any absurdity, for example english bomberplane pilots bombing civilian targets during WW2. Or the russian general Shukov advocating rape of millions of women. I’ll bet he slept well at night regardless of the fate of his victims.

            Believing in absurdities is not a prerequisite for commiting atrocities and are not proof of insanity. One man’s religion is another man’s absurdity, right?

            Also, both sane and insane persons can be responsible for the most horrendous acts. So in some cases, the perpetrator is sane. In other cases, he or she may be insane. The motive itself doesn’t tell us who’s insane and who isn’t.

            So noone tries to depoliticise anything. Some of us try to act in a rational way instead of trying to leverage a national tragedy into a political weapon.

          • Tore Sinding Bekkedal says:

            I guess it could be more precisely stated that absurdity can make threats where none exist, and also remove immorality from retaliating against the imagined threats.

            I’ll quote Heinrich Himmler:

            «I am now referring to the evacuation of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish people. It’s one of those things that is easily said: ‘The Jewish people are being exterminated’, says every party member, ‘this is very obvious, it’s in our program, elimination of the Jews, extermination, we’re doing it, hah, a small matter.’ [...] But of all those who talk this way, none had observed it, none had endured it. Most of you here know what it means when 100 corpses lie next to each other, when 500 lie there or when 1,000 are lined up. To have endured this and at the same time to have remained a decent person – with exceptions due to human weaknesses – had made us tough. This is a page of glory never mentioned and never to be mentioned. [...] We have the moral right, we had the duty to our people to do it, to kill this people who wanted to kill us.»

            I agree that his motives and his conduct do not determine the sanity. But I also believe that his sanity is fairly obvious, as well as the psychiatrists’ failure to interpret entirely rational decisions and patterns as anything else than pathology – such as when they interpreted his fear of Police surveillance as paranoia.

            Well – he was making a bomb and planning a massacre, after all. Being paranoid is entirely rational.

            And it does look to me like you are depoliticising this event. And your accusation that I am trying to «leverage» the death of my close friends as a «weapon» is beyond disgusting. What the fuck kind of person do you think I am? I have never sought to use Breivik as a sledgehammer against the Progress Party. I’m just pointing out that we need to snap out of the fantasy of a «constructive level of racism». When has Europe ever benefitted from making a big deal out of religion or race? Most social problems never exhibit more than at best, a moderate correlation. On the other hand, the example of where it has gone wrong are myriad – from «just» a few teens murdering a black person for being black, up to the complete collapse of the entire bloody continent in the period 1940-1945.

            Indeed, quite a few of the journalists with whom I spoke at the courthouse eagerly agreed with my assertion that his text was entirely at home in a Tybring-Gjedde speech. Of course, none of them had the guts to print it.

            Such is the new political correctness in Norway: You can stigmatise all you want – but you must never criticise those who stigmatise. ‘Cause that’s how, er, freedom works… or something.

    • digi_owl says:

      Thing is that there was a recent reform law passed regarding the topic, and during that they changed some of the labels. End result was that the media (one may wonder if it was deliberate) got the clinical insanity and criminal insanity mixed. If i got it straight, the former is what we usually talk about when saying insane. The latter is the issue of the person being able to consider legal from illegal leading to and during the events he stands accused for.

  8. Magnus Redin says:

    One of the first speeches at the one year rememberance ended with directions about where to drink coffee togeather.  I wonder if the US equivalent ended with never giving up the war on terrorism?

  9. Lemoutan says:

    Whilst the sentiment is (greatly) appreciated, I can’t help feeling that – within a few years – a movie about this bog-standard trial is going to turn up. It will even, pointedly or subtly, emphasise the bog-standardness of this chosen style of due process. And this film will thereby undermine the whole point of the ordinariness, the whole banality of evil schtick. I suppose that if it’s a clever enough film, that’ll be included. And this will further undermine the …. etc.

    • scav says:

      No problem. The film could lean heavily on the irrational nature of his beliefs. Use that quote “Whoever can make you believe an absurdity can make you commit an atrocity”.
      If it mixed in TV clips with a few of the things other haters and racists have been saying publicly, it could highlight the insanity inherent in all such beliefs, as well as how prevalent they are. Could be quite terrifying actually.

      [Edited slightly to hopefully sound less crazy to Lemoutan]

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