Saturday, 14 April 2012

Anders Breivik Declared Sane

The article here: Anders Sane

So in the news today a second pyschiatric evalutation has declared the notoriously murderous Anders Breivik sane. I applaud this decision. Having read much of his manifesto 2083: A European Declaration of Independence as I felt able to stomach, I have found that he is much to reasonable in his writings to be considered insane. Indeed in reading his works I didn't feel like I was reading something by the Unibomber or Charles Manson. It was not a rambling text of hate a virtrol, nor a grim and self-important piece like Mein Kampf but it was unfortunately the reasoning of a political extremist. It struck me as a more detailed and in depth manifesto that one might find from the 30's or 20's back in the day. It showed a man who was well aware of what he was doing, felt it was important, and more importantly was completely aware of his actions and their consequences at the time.

The way he carried out his attack was well planned, well thought out, and chillingly efficient. It did not bear the mark of a man who had suddenly snapped in a fit of violent rage, or delcared life hopeless and gone on a shooting rampage like the Columbine massacre, or other such events. It was a coldly caluclated political statement meant to be made to the world. Much like Timothy McVeigh and his Oklahoma bombing, Anders Breivik falls into the same category of political terrorist.

One man alone managed to kill and wound over 200 people personally. This is an insane number of people and not only has Breivik not expressed remorse but seems perfectly fine with the murder of young children. These do not make a man criminally insane as some have claimed, instead it is a personality that fits in with peoples and events we know well. Breivik is a man who in 1941 would most likely have joined the SS to go fight in the Soviet Union, or he may have willingly served as a camp guard and participated in the extermination of the Jews. He fits the profile of the sort of thug who is radical and violent in his ideals. The only way he knows how to express his frustrations at the percieved 'wrongness' in society is with violence.

Some people today of course would say 'but this is insane' and we have to ask them; is it? When countries at large go to war, or when men join the military, or even engage in violent fist fights for petty reasons is that insane? Is a country at war one which has lost all sensibilities and reached out to attack another, one which has fallen into temporary madness? Is a man joining the military to serve his country someone who see's violence as the only option? Or are two younths engaged in a physical altercation those who have lost all sense and fallen into a sudden state of insanity? Personally I can testify no to that. I have friends in the military and they are trained to commit acts of bodily harm upon your person, but they will not carry out those acts willy nilly, that would be against both their training and their sense of decency. Having personally been engaged in fist fights I can say there is nothing insane about them, I was fully aware of my mental facilities when I participated in them.

An act of mass violence does not automatically make a man insane. Indeed a man who is insane is most likely more dangerous to himself than others. But someone who is as clear and level headed as you or I is a much more present danger to society. He knows his limits, he knows his goals and motivations, and worse, he can calculate and plan for the maximum ammount of destruction and carnage time and time again if he gets away. In essence that man is a terrorist who seeks to accomplish a goal or make a point. Which is just what Anders Breivik set out to do.

Some members of society have the knee jerk reaction to call him mentally insane for doing so. That is just not true. All of us, every single one of us, has the capacity to plan and even do the exact same thing. Evil is not a mental illness that can be weeded out of mankind, it is a fact of life that we must constantly live with and be vigilant against. To simply declare someone 'mentally ill' for commiting an evil act is a dangerous thing to say. It presumes, for one, that people who commit these acts can somehow be 'cured' of their violent urges. Or that indeed these reactions are 'not natural' in people. The problem is that people do have these reactions and urges, and simply labeling them 'mentally ill' or 'insane' is not going to solve the problem.

Thus I am glad that in Norway they are facing the fact that Breivik is indeed a violent and highly unpleasant individual with a dark side that many of us would rather not face. I can only hope that he meets a tough sentence and is judged according to his deeds and punished appropriately.

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