Dr. Dawg

Breivik "insane?"

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Breivik gets the joke.jpg

So claim the Norwegian prosecutors.

If Breivik is insane, what about Pam Geller? Pat Robertson? Debbie Schlussel? Glenn Beck? Ann Coulter?

More than a few people, in fact, believe exactly the same things as he does, see the world in the same way, and in that, at least, make common cause with him. We know his world-view all too well, both from his own lengthy ramblings and from similar commentary all over the Internet and the mass media.

Is that world-view insane? I might say so, if only in a purely polemical spirit. In any case, the only difference I can see between these off-the-wall Islamophobes and Anders Breivik is that he acted on his beliefs.

Did Breivik know that what he was doing was wrong, the classic insanity defence—which he himself has angrily rejected? He knew very well, by all accounts, that it wasn’t legal, nor in accordance with generally accepted morality, to set off bombs and shoot dozens of schoolkids. His massive attentat was meant to be a blow precisely against both law and accepted morality.

We feel a need, I think, to define the author of a monstrous act as a monster. By so doing we establish a safe distance between that person and a “normal” one—like you or I. But here I’m reminded of Leonard Cohen’s poem about another famous criminal:

All there is to know about Adolph Eichmann

EYES - Medium
HAIR - Medium
WEIGHT - Medium
HEIGHT - Medium
DISTINGUISHING FEATURES - None
NUMBER OF FINGERS - Ten
NUMBER OF TOES - Ten
INTELLIGENCE - Medium

What did you expect?
Talons?
Oversize incisors?
Green saliva?
Madness?

The only comfort I can draw from this is that Breivik himself will be mortified if actually found insane by the court. Such a ruling would administer a major wound to his hyper-righteous sense of self-esteem. Being ruled insane would be, in his own mind, a fundamental refusal to take him seriously. And—like many of those who share his loathsome views—being taken seriously is the only thing that counts.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on June 21, 2012 11:46 AM.

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