“How badly do some people wish for this evil to be turned into a new national backdrop?”
Last January we published an op-ed about the Breivik massacre by Ole Gjems-Onstad, a professor of tax law at the Norwegian School of Management, the University of Oslo, and the University of Stavanger. Below is a new opinion piece by the same author, from yesterday’s DN.no.
Many thanks to our Norwegian correspondent The Observer for the translation.
Trial without limits
by Ole Gjems-Onstad
We are so kind here in this country, so good, so full of love, such obvious favourites in the World Championship of boundless good intentions. Where all the other countries probably would be more resolute, we are afraid to even make the slightest mistake. By not setting limits, we reduce the risk of criticism. We give megalomaniac evil the utmost reward: The nation’s new mega-celebrity.
It is pointless to resist the forces that have been unleashed here. The mass murderer has become a money-making machine for tabloid newspapers, police (overtime) and an army of lawyers. Soon we’ll see the arrival of cash registers belonging to authors, publishers, theatre and film producers. Many share a common interest with the youth-butcher: Never forget his murders.
Norwegian ideologies have contributed to the killer’s receiving an unnecessarily expensive treatment. Early on the Prime Minister stated that Norway would meet violence with love. The message has been reiterated by others. We are going to be better than the murderer, show that we are not brutal.
The cry for love in the face of a vicious serial killer seems like confusing censorship. One is not allowed to retaliate. He shall have three prison cells and is not be subjected to any treatment that could reek of retribution. The greatest evil is to be shown respect. Then we are better than him. What kind of national inferiority complex is in any doubt about that? The Norwegian Church has not provided any help as to how adults should encounter cruel malice. The Church teaches children’s morals and turn the other cheek as opposed to setting limits, which July 22 and the trial are lacking.
The police, who failed fatally on July 22, are using unreal resources on protecting the mass murderer. He is escorted to court hearings as if he were the king of his dreams. Thousands of people on their way to work are delayed because the intersection that the murderer will be driven through is blocked off. On July 22 young people died because the police decided to protect themselves first. Now they can’t seem to use enough resources to protect the serial killer. The monster will not be thrown to the dogs. His self-inflicted risk is obviously entitled to more resources than that of potential rape victims.
The prosecution and the press are literally running after the killer in order to fulfil his dreams of the status the killings should give him. He is given a week or more to explain himself. A district attorney has said that the accused according to the law has the right to explain himself freely. But a free explanation does not mean an unrestricted right to speak about matters that are criminally irrelevant. Nor are the judges supposed to write a third forensic psychiatric report about which key professionals staffs will disagree after an extensive observation.
The case is without any extenuating circumstances. No opinions justify the executions of innocent youths. For the strongest punishment in Norway two of the icy killings are sufficient.
The urgent witness list from the defence should have been reduced. The attempt to convert evil into politics is a diversion. Stein Lillevolden was commendably concise. If the court is giving in to a mass murderer’s media circus, I respectfully decline. I’m not going to testify. This is a response that other witnesses should also have the courage to give the Oslo District Court.
Many of the bereft want their children to be part of the criminal charge. That is easy to understand. But the price can be high for the families with the trial being taken beyond all boundaries. In a visual world, they will never get a safe haven in the future. Many have claimed that it is censorship not to broadcast the trial on normal TV. How badly do some people wish for this evil to be turned into a new national backdrop?
The army of legal aid is an uncontrolled hole in the taxpayers’ funds. The bad conscience of the leadership of the Labour Party may have contributed to the hundreds of lawyers submitting their invoices. In the future the rules need to be addressed.
Norwegian forensic psychiatry was probably a victim at Utøya. A welcome result may be to remove the unwise rule that a psychosis automatically exempts guilt.
Paradoxically, forced psychiatric treatment may be the most degrading punishment for the mass murderer: You are not a great knight, but a sick weakling. The endless interviews and media coverage could have been rejected. Patients must be protected against overexposure. Inmates in prisons have a completely different access to microphones in the nation of rights which is Norway.
Regardless, this evil murderer will never be allowed out. July 22 has shown us that ministers from the Labour Party almost never have to take responsibility. But even a minister from the Labour Party will not remain in his position for many hours if this mass murderer were ever to be let loose or granted leave.