The summer is all but gone and that means I have time to again sit in front of my computer and ponder about the peculiarities of this planet. So to both of my readers I say: do not despair, for I have not abandoned you.
A lot has happened in these past couple months during which this blog has remained in hibernation. One of the most tragic and horrifying events was the car bombing and Utoya massacre committed by Anders Brevik on 22nd of July. This act of lunacy and sheer violence eventually led to the deaths of 77 people on top of that 96 were injured. However, unlike most madmen that do this sort of stuff, Brevik did not commit suicide and he is not imprisoned and awaiting trial.
The upcoming trial (which likely will take place sometime next year) has caused much discussion in the media. Brevik himself has said he wishes the trial to be open to the public, but the norwegian police asked for it to be held with closed doors, citing fear of possible attacks inspired by Brevik’s possible public appearance as one of the reasons. At first the court decided to keep the trial public, but after a recent appeal the decision was overturned and now it seems the trial will be behind closed doors.
Are we (and by “we” I mean, people in general) really this afraid of one man? The way I see it, the courts played directly into Brevik’s hand by denying him publicity. Now he can appear as the silenced “hero”, “the victim” of censorship to those who adore him. And that, in my opinion, is far worse than anything that would’ve been caused if he was allowed to appear in public.
There are those who agree with the stance of the police, saying this had to be done to minimize the threat of new attacks. But Brevik himself is evidence of the fact that especially on this day and age where vast mountains of up to date information are available to those with a computer and an internet connection lunatics don’t need to rely on press and tv to seek inspiration. It goes even further than that; this case has demonstrated that these people don’t rely on information and facts. They live in a distorted reality where killing innocent civilians who happen to have “wrong” political or ethnic backgrounds is commendable and acceptable, and I think I’m not alone in thinking that one cannot obtain such a deluded picture of the surrounding world simply by watching the news.
Moreover, even if one would agree that publicizing the motives of Brevik was potentially harmful, it’s way too late. His nonsensical, apparently very badly written and largely copy-pasted “manifesto” has been online ever since the attacks, and has spread throughout the internet. Therefore anyone who wants to idolize and praise him already has all the material to do that and claiming that keeping the trial closed will somehow prevent or undo this is nothing but crying over spilt milk.
“Oh but the families of the victims need to be respected”, is the last defense of those who praise this as the right choice. To which I can only reply: the purpose of the justice system is not – and has never been – to cater to the personal feelings or need for revenge of the victims and relatives of the victims. The purpose of the justice system is to make sure that justice is served, and transparency of the legal process is an important part of that mission.
Of course there are occasions on which trials need to be closed to protect the private lives of ordinary people caught up in tragedies like brutal murder. But what Brevik did was not just 77 counts and 97 attempts of murder. It was mass murder. Genocide. An attack on not only the people of Norway, but on the whole of humanity. That has invoked fear in people and it is more than understandable in this situation but people should not succumb to it. The first reaction to fear is always running and that’s what this decision is all about. Running and hiding. The courts seemed to think that ignoring the harsh realities will somehow change them and that by silencing the idiot behind all this people will forget him and his deeds.
That is a short-term solution. The only way to get rid of fear is through facing and then conquering it.
That’s what the social democratic youth organisation in Norway is doing by holding their summer camp at the same location next year, that’s what we have done in the past with people like Martin Bormann, Hermann Göring and Saddam Hussein – whose acts are several orders of magnitude more systematic and devastating than Brevik’s – and that’s what the Norwegian courts should do in this situation. We must not cower in fear like children after dark on their beds. We must hit the lights, knock the bed over and let the whole world see that there is no boogeyman. That despite all of our emotional responses, Anders Brevik is not the incarnation of the forces of darkness. To show that beneath all the hatred and anger he is still just a man, a weak, sick, deluded man who needs to be locked away. We need put an end to fear.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain