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Stunned by Norse code of honour.

Byline: John Niven

In the ongoing horrors of the trial of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, I came across a detail that actually caused my jaw to drop and my heart to fill with a great love for Norway.

It was a tiny thing, nothing to do with the descriptions of death and carnage or with Breivik's horrific testimony about his state of mind as he carried out the killings on the island of Utoya last summer.

(And just look at Breivik in the courtroom, uncomfortable in his suit, with that stupid beard. He looks pathetic and infantile, like a teenage heavy metal fan forced to attend a wedding.) Anyway, I read a quote from Thomas Hylland Eriksen, a professor of social anthropology at Oslo University.

In an interview with the Norwegian media, Eriksen had described Breivik as being a little "podgy".

But, he said,there had been letters of complaint, adding: "People were saying, 'You shouldn't say that about his appearance - he has a mother. We have to treat him with respect'.'' Imagine that for a moment. Even Breivik expressed surprise at "how controlled" people have been, surprise there had been "no shouting" in the courtroom.

But as campaigner Trond Henry Blattman said last week: "This is the Norwegian way. We need to carry this out in a dignified manner. If people were shouting and screaming, this would be a circus, not a trial." '' At the WI, said That is fairly extraordinary when roughly one in four Norwegians knew someone killed in Breivik's massacre. is It is even more extraordinary when you realise that one of the people killed on Utoya was Blattman's 17-year-old son.

Yet some would argue that Breivik's trial is already a circus - that he should not be allowed to perform for the cameras, to speak in such detail and at such length about his views and feelings.

The opposite is true, of course. What Norway is doing in allowing Breivik his platform is the very essence of civilisation - let us hear your views, however repellent and obscene and painful they may be, then you can, to some degree, be understood, debated and defeated.

So put the odious BNP buffoon Nick Griffin on Question Time. Let us hear his ideology and laugh it down. Publish Mein Kampf again, as a Bavarian publisher announced last week, and let a new generation look at Hitler's "masterwork" and see it for the dreck it is.

As Norwegian journalist Erik Dale eloquently wrote last week: "Extremism of any creed is not fuelled by those who speak in public but by those who feel that no one speaks for them."

At the root of the Norwegian reaction to Breivik, there seems to be a desire to try to understand him before punishing him to the fullest extent allowed by the law, rather than the fever of a mob out for revenge.

end of Orwell Because, as George Orwell wrote at the end of the Second World War: "Revenge is sour."

revenge sour He was in Alliedoccupied Europe as an observer, where he witnessed the atrocities perpetrated on Nazi war criminals being held captive. He described a man beating a captured SS man and how he did not seem to be enjoying the experience as much as he imagined he would have during the long years of the war when an SS uniform was the ultimate symbol of oppression.

Because, Orwell concluded: "Properly speaking, there is no such thing as revenge. Revenge is an act you want to commit when you are powerless and because you are powerless.

"As soon as the sense of impotence is removed, the desire evaporates also."

You become, in other words, not an avenger but a sadist.

Every day, in a Norwegian courtroom, we are seeing the other way.

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TRIAL Mass murderer Breivik
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 29, 2012
Words:638
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