The trial of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik is, in the words of a perceptive Norwegian reporter-blogger, a “media circus.” The killer is being allowed to spout his extremist views on a wide variety of subjects, and although he murdered 77 people with no apparent provocation, he is being permitted by the court to plead self-defense.
And amazingly, the trial began with the presiding judge and the prosecutors advancing to the defendant’s box and shaking Breivik’s hand–a mass murderer who admits his crimes and expresses no remorse.
Plainly, there is something wrong with such a “non-adversarial” criminal trial, and with the politeness-obsessed, conflict-averse Norwegian society that has created such a criminal justice system. Other aspects of the trial are equally non-adversarial. While in an American courtroom the defendant’s lawyer would argue that his client is not guilty by reason of insanity–the only plausible defense for a murderer who freely admits his guilt and expresses pride in his crimes–Breivik’s lawyer is allowing his client to argue that he is sane. In his remarks to the court and the press, the lawyer freely admits that he finds it distasteful to represent his client, and he doesn’t make any serious effort to defend or even excuse him. “I feel I have lost my soul as a result of this case,” he told reporters.
On the other hand, while the defense attorney shows little interest in defending, the prosecution seems equally uninterested in prosecuting. It has not argued that the defendant is sane–which it must do in order to obtain a conviction–and is instead leaning toward the view that Breivik is insane. In other words, the prosecutors are on the whole more helpful to the defendant than his own lawyer.
But whether he is convicted or found “not guilty by reason of insanity,” Breivik will live a comfortable life under some form of detention, with numerous rights and privileges that in Norway’s ultra-humane correctional system are granted to all criminals. On the other hand, he will be detained indefinitely in either case–until and unless he can persuade his “guardians” that he is no longer a threat to society. In Norway’s permissive, soft-hearted and soft-headed society, he might just succeed in doing that some day.
Why then, hold a trial at all?
In an American courtroom, a defendant pleading self-defense after killing 77 unarmed, unresisting people would be required to produce evidence that he actually was under attack and needed to use deadly force to protect his life. Any other “evidence” offered by the defendant would be disallowed by the judge as irrelevant, incompetent and immaterial. Instead, the Norwegian court is allowing Breivik to mount a “political” defense that his atrocities were necessary to protect his society from multiculturalism, socialism and an Islamic takeover. This makes for a prolonged, extremely painful trial for the relatives of the victims, who must sit there listening to a remorseless killer boast of the dreadful things he did to their deceased loved ones, and attempt to justify, even glorify, his crimes. Since none of this “testimony” has any real bearing on the question of Breivik’s guilt or innocence, allowing it in court serves only Breivik’s twisted purposes–and perhaps those of others who seek to exploit his atrocities, and the horror they have inspired, to advance their own political agendas.
Some of these “others” who are seeking to make political capital out of the Breivik massacre are commentators for the “mainstream media” (MSM) who seek to blame Breivik’s atrocities on conservative politicians and bloggers. Their rhetorical trope is guilt-by-association– but they provide no evidence of any association between the people whom they blame for the murders and Breivik, who committed them.
Typical of this MSM blame-game response to the Breivik massacre is New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, who claims that nearly everyone on two continents who has warned of the danger to Western civilization posed by militant Islamism, even those who have made no criticism of Islam as such, are “enablers of terrorism” and responsible for Breivik’s vicious deeds. According to Cohen, Breivik’s “many ideological fellow travelers on both sides of the Atlantic” include such conservative politicians as “Geert Wilders in the Netherlands,” “the surging Marine Le Pen in France,” and “Republicans like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Representative Peter King,” as well as “far-rightist parties in Sweden and Denmark and Britain,” and “U.S. church pastors using their bully pulpits week after week to say America is a Christian nation under imminent threat from Islam.”
Cohen leaves out one small detail: none of these people have ever advocated violence against Muslims, or much less indigenous Norwegian Christians, who formed the overwhelming majority of Behring’s victims.
On the other hand, New York Times op-ed columnist Thomas Hegghammer, a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment in Oslo and co-author of “Al-Qaida in Its Own Words,” prefers to link Breivik to “counterjihad” bloggers:
While Mr. Breivik’s violent acts are exceptional, his anti-Islamic views are not. Much, though not all, of Mr. Breivik’s manifesto is inspired by a relatively new right-wing intellectual current often referred to as counterjihad. The movement’s main home is the Internet, where blogs like Jihad Watch, Atlas Shrugs and Gates of Vienna publish essays by writers like Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Bat Ye’or and Fjordman, the pseudonym for a Norwegian blogger. Mr. Breivik’s manifesto is replete with citations of counterjihad writers, strongly suggesting that he was inspired by them.
However, Hegghammer concedes that “the leading counterjihad writers have virtually never advocated violence, and several of them have condemned Mr. Breivik’s actions” and that “the more belligerent part of Mr. Breivik’s ideology has less in common with counterjihad than with its archenemy, Al Qaeda.”
Pages: 1 2