Oslo killer: sane or not?

One is struck by the pictures of the Oslo killer. In some he seems expressionless, but not blank - more as though he felt no need to express himself to others. In other views he provided, we see him absurdly posturing in a range of bogus uniforms and action-man outfits. In the few pictures released of him after the massacre, he looks calm, but oh so smug and satisfied: the cat who really has enjoyed the cream.

I'm working through a copy of his enormous 1500-page Manifesto, and will report on my analysis of it, later. In it, he complains of "the rise of cultural Marxism/multiculturalism" and "Islamic colonisation and Islamisation of Western Europe."  But he doesn't seem to see the inherent contradictions in these terms. Marxism and Islam are hardly compatible partners.

He offers "advanced ideological, practical, tactical, organisational and rhetorical solutions and strategies for all patriotic-minded individuals/movements," and rather many of those are violent. That nobody seems to have asked for his opinions seems irrelevant to him, but in a way he found a method to draw attention to his rambling thoughts. He writes in the name of Andrew Berwick, apparently an Anglicisation of his name.

His lack of political and social sophistication would suggest more of a diet of Spongebob Squarepants and Powerpuff Girls than serious political philosophy. Personally, I think Marxism has a lot to do with the fact that Marx suffered from chronic severe boils on his bottom, and reputedly had to write most of Das Kapital standing up! Yes, there is over-valuation of Breivik's banal comments. But then the delusion that the world is, and should be, fascinated by all his opinions and actions is widely shared by Tweeters and Facebook addicts.

He is, perhaps, more thoughtful about practical aspects of being a secretive revolutionary. To avoid "suspicion from relatives, neighbours and friends," he recommends telling them you're getting involved in World of Warcraft or similar MMO games, and will be focusing on this, rather than on them for the next months or year. It will "justify isolation and people will understand somewhat why you are not answering your phone over long periods."

He comments that he bought "Modern Warfare 2, the game", describing it as "probably the best military simulator out there and it’s one of the hottest games this year", and "more as a part of my training-simulation than anything else." He adds "You can more or less completely simulate actual operations."  Though using traditional military and similar training facilities is important, he thinks these games can provide training for longer periods at less risk.

The trial: a monster in waiting
He took care to stop shooting and surrender as soon as the police approached, apparently not prepared to force them to shoot him as some other killers do, but wanting to enjoy his time in court.

The court will need to be cautious to avoid providing him with opportunities to grandstand and proclaim his message, which he may imagine will enable him to vindicate himself and attract converts. While people are more likely to be revolted or confused by his message, there's no point in providing him with that satisfaction. Beware of suggesting to other monsters-in-waiting, who have a message they feel sure would prove much more attractive and effective than his, that at least this is a great way to get a global audience.

The Norwegian Court has already shown great wisdom in having the first hearing in a closed court, and keeping him isolated from society and the media. It wouldn't hurt, though, to provide him with some information about how massive has been the social support for his victims, and how absent has been any support for him - or he may think he is being kept incommunicado because there's some massive swelling of support for his incoherent views.

He's now trying to drag his theories and beliefs into court, by admitting to everything he did (so the trial won't need much evidence to prove that), but denying that it was a crime for him to do so, because it was an unfortunate necessity to enable him to achieve his larger goals, which will eternally benefit Europe. The details of his rants will not in fact be relevant to the case, only the issue of whether any political viewpoint could ever justify or even excuse such horrific acts.

The argument has many major flaws. While he may feel confident that he does not deserve punishment for what he did, I doubt he'd agree that a Muslim or Marxist terrorist who did exactly the same acts, should go unpunished. It's a very personal exemption he is claiming.

He runs the risk, if he insists on ranting in a manner others see as daft, that the harangues would seem to support an insanity plea. But I doubt very much that he would want to be found insane (unlike Mr Dewani who seems devoted to achieving that end ) because that would convert his long years of work and pseudo-philosophy officially into the ravings of a madman rather than the sober and vitally important political manifesto he wants us to take seriously.

(Professor M.A. Simpson, Health24 August 2011)

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