Sunday, April 15, 2012

No vengeance hour


Is it at all allowed to talk about revenge in a constitutional state in which the golden principle is to remove the revenge motive for punishment?

This is the principle, but what about our emotions?
If we were to feel the need for revenge, there will never be an outlet for it in this case. The sentence most people want to see Breivik get, is the same as he wants himself now.
Most of us want him to be declared sane. It is the same as he wishes. So what kind of settlement can we get then, but a more brutal, detailed repetition of the horrors?
We want to see his inner suffering, a troubled conscience. It is so far no evidence to suggest that we will see this.
We are going to be confronted with a man with no remorse. But not without a touch of fear.

Breivik's self on the line
He is afraid that he will not appear as an ideological commander. He has looked forward to this great moment where he can pass on his ideas to the world. This is what is at stake for Breivik. Will the court let him talk ideology?
He is not concerned about what he should be held accountable for, the senseless killings of 77 people.
It can be seen as a violation that he is not concerned with our pain. He will try to divert attention by making it an ideological matter. We must not let him do that. Then he will get the hang of us.
The last expert report states that he has psychopathic tendencies. That gives him the ability to catch people in his pattern of thinking. Therefore, those who watch him in prison have been told to not talk cause or ideology with him. Which is something Breivik allegedly is trying to all the time.

The only way we can affect Breivik, is to void his ideology.

If we mobilize a hatred for his ideology, he succeeds in turning the attention away from what he really stands for. Pure crime. The only problem using the word crime is that his crime is so incomprehensible severe that the word becomes too small.
Is that why we call it terrorism? When we call it terrorism, we give the crime an ideological dimension, because terrorism always goes along with ideology.

Witnesses reflect Breivik´s image of reality
We will see that the defense will present a number of witnesses who can confirm Breivik's ideological base. Famous names from the polarized debate about Islam and Norway.
Despite the fact that they have very different points of view, they will in various ways reflect his reality. The more you believe in his reality, the more will the court recognize him as sane. This is probably defense lawyer Geir Lippestads strategy.

Shall we accept this premise? No, says the famous left wing activist, Stein Lillevolden, who is called in as a witness. He will not show, and he is willing to go to jail for it.

It is going to be tough to return to what happened on July 22. And in addition, we will hear more detailed and horrible information about what happened than ever. No one can avoid to empathize with the victims and their families and friends when this is being washed up again.

We must also remember the many injured, who will testify in court. Those who will live on, not only with terror as a memory, but also as scars on their bodies.
How can people feel that justice can be done in a case like this? The death penalty? Although most people are against the death penalty in Norway, polls show that there are Norwegians who want it in extreme cases.
But probably not in this case. He would get away too easily.
Let's face it, we are confused about what we want and what we can get at the end of this painful process.
Sane, insane, ability of guilt, imprisonment versus treatment, and so on. What is the general feeling of justice in this matter? A wish to forget him? May the right response be to forget Breivik? It would stand in stark contrast to what is common to say for crimes against humanity, "We shall never forget!"
But what are we to remember?
We should remember the youth on Utøya and we should remember the words from one of them: "If one man can show so much hate, imagine how much love we can all show together."
The love we are talking about here is a love that must be activated, it does not come by itself.

A slightly grotesque aspect of this trial is that the media turnout is so vast that it resembles a media event, almost like the Olympics. Perhaps that is why a foreign journalist almost threw himself over me when I was on a tour of the courthouse on Friday, and asked, "Are you kin"?
I was bewildered by his directness and insensitivity, and answered no. I should have answered him, "No, but I'm affected. I am a Norwegian citizen. "
We must be prepared for members of a foreign press corps that do not realize how deeply affected all of us Norwegians are.

An international terrorist universe
Another uncomfortable feeling we enter the trial with, is that the perpetrator was one of us, a Norwegian. Terror experts call it "homegrown terrorism", but Breivik operated in an international universe.
He calls himself a solider of the "Knights Templar" in England. He is inspired by Israeli warfare in the Middle East, and even by militant Islamist tactics on the battlefield. He ordered chemicals and miscellaneous equipment from abroad. And his aim is the defence of Europe as a whole. Although this kind of terror must have a local arena, it is internationally linked in our time. Those who recruit people to violence on the Internet, where do they live? The answer is "everywhere".
So what do we feel on Tuesday, when Breivik occupies the witness box?
Let us not consider him a monster. There is a man standing there, and that's what this painful and complicated trial tells us.
That we live in a humanistic and democratic society where the rule of law and rights of the individual are unwavering.
It is not vengeance hour.

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