Monday, April 16, 2012


If I may be serious for a moment....

There was a great deal in the news, today, concerning the start of the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, the man who killed 77 people in Norway last year.  And I'm sure I have nothing to add to the news coverage, save a few of my personal impressions.

The image of Breivik on the TV screen reminded me, in a weird way, of Trenton Oldfield, the guy who disrupted the Oxford-Cambridge boat race a little while back.  Not, of course, that there is any comparison between the things they did...  but there was something about both their expressions, that little, smug, "now everyone's looking at me" look....  I imagine quite a few evil people have worn that particular smirk.  Evil is, after all, banal, in the end.  People like these destroy because destruction is so much easier than creation; creation takes talent, and vision, and effort, qualities in which people of this kind are sadly deficient.  Make the world a better place?  Too much like hard work; so much easier to pick up a gun and make a "statement" with that....

But never mind Breivik himself.  The courts, and the people, of Norway, are doing a hard job now, and they deserve respect for it.  In a time when we are told that the threat of terror justifies all kinds of suspensions of civil liberties, Norway has a genuine terrorist on its hands... and it is treating him like any other criminal; humanely, decently, with regard to justice and his human rights.  They are giving him a fair trial in an open court, and (I have no doubt) a just verdict and a just sentence at the end of the process.  They are giving him all the respect and human decency that he denied to his victims.  And that must be a terribly, terribly hard thing to do.

There are people - and I should think Breivik is one of them - who would see this as a sign of weakness, of woolly-minded liberalism lacking the will to fight its enemies.  I would disagree.  I think it is a sign of strength - the strength to hold to ideals in bad times as well as good.  In treating Breivik with justice, the Norwegians are showing they are strong - too strong, in fact, to be bullied out of their convictions by one horrid little man with a gun.


  1. Would that my own government had the Norwegians' strength of character.