Saturday 23 July 2011


What happened yesterday in Norway defies description and is beyond belief.

Information on the massacres is, of course, changing all the time but the last time I heard the news (having sat through three quarters of an hour of speculation, yes speculation, that Amy Winehouse was dead), was that 92 people had died and there were many still missing.

The apparent perpetrator of the crimes is Anders Behring Breivik, who is described by police as a 'Christian fundamentalist with extreme right-wing views', which just goes to prove, yet again, that regardless of which particular religion or political affiliation, the words ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘extremist’ should fill us with grave concern.

Those he murdered were kids; good kids who were spending time at a summer camp, talking politics, listening to senior international statesmen and women, of which Norway has a number disproportionate to its size, and discussing their views. They came from towns and villages all over the country, a small country like our own. There is hardly a family in the country which hasn’t been touched, by knowing someone, or knowing someone who knows someone, who was directly involved.

I have no idea what it must have been like on that island, or indeed in the political centre of Oslo. Nor can I begin to imagine how it must feel to be one of the parents, friends, relatives of a dead or missing teenager, or of a traumatised kid who has seen hell and lost friends in the most awful way. There’s no use me trying. You can’t unless you’ve been through something like this yourself.

I just know that it haunts me.

And I know too, that no one would have expected it to happen in beautiful, rich, sleepy, reputedly rather dull Norway. Rather like no one would expect it to happen in Scotland.

But it could.

Inadequate though it is, my thoughts are with the people of Norway who have lost or who have been hurt in some other way by this outrage.


  1. There are still a lot of unanswered questions.
    1. This guy couldnt have been any more “Aryan” if he wanted to be, looks like an actor selected for a job.
    2. Hes a “right wing extremist” with anti Muslim views, yet he didnt attack any Muslims, he slaughtered his own people only. He could just have easily walked into a Mosque.
    3. If, as we are told, the Prime Minister was due at the Island that day, why was the place not crawling with security as you just KNOW it would be days before any such visit.
    4. How come he set up a Facebook account only 3 days before just to spout a bit of support for the English Defence League and to say he was a Christian fundamentalist? He supposedly talked about setting up an Norwegian Defence League but there already is one and has been for months. He obviously didn't know that. Also the contacts I have with the EDL have confirmed that until yesterday they'd never heard of the guy.

  2. Indeed there are certainly unanswered questions, as you would expect only 36 hours after the attack.

    But my post was not primarily, or even secondarily, about putting the blame on any particular brand of religious fanatic, QM.

    They are all quite the same to me. Mad. I've read a lot of the Bible and a bit of the Koran and I've found nothing in either that would support anything like the behaviour which comes from the mad mullahs or crazy clerics.

    I quote from the post: "...which just goes to prove, yet again, that regardless of which particular religion or political affiliation, the words ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘extremist’ should fill us with grave concern...."

    For those that want to try to pin this on Muslims, I'm sure there are plenty of posts all over the net that will do that; for those that want to gloat that it was a Christian that did it, likewise.

    Maybe he did kill Muslims. Strangely the Norwegians haven't mentioned the ethnicity of the victims. Maybe he was a foreigner who hates Norwegians and every man jack that is dead is Norwegian and white and Christian, as well as being left wing. Who knows at this stage? Either way, if Breivik judges people by their nationality he's a low life moron, in my opinion.

    The main thrust of my post was to express my horror, disgust and utter dismay that whoever did it for what ever motive could possibly have done it. And otherwise to express my solidarity, inadequate though that will sound, with Norway and Norwegians of whatever ethnicity.

  3. An evil act: terroristic and hubristic (it would seem).

    Evil, co-ordinated acts of conscious evil - if the early reportage is accurate.

    It seems unlikely that it was only him involved (a possibility, of course); but, it seems likely that there were others acting in support of him (quarter-mastering, logistics, etc).

    If this supposition is true, who was he acting for and why? Or is he a genuinely, random outlier with specific "gifts" and obsessions?

    I am part Norwegian myself - which gives me a tangential sense of immediate blood connection - but more profound is the universal, human one - regardless of ethnic and clan sources and affiliations.

    I suspect, and only that, that he cropped up in someone's radar before, but was, perhaps, overlooked or dismissed or "let run", or, maybe, not. Perhaps a Dunblane reprise writ larger and "more" wicked?

    Whatever, evil (in a movie star package some would have swooned to (and still may do)).

    One can only try to grieve with those affected and try to understand what happened and why.


  4. Theses sort of outrages happen everywhere. It did happen in Scotland in Dunblane in March 1996, where another nutcase murdered sixteen primary school children (mostly 5 or 6 years old). They are horrific but most of all they are unexpected and I for one am not quite sure what it is we can do to prevent it. Nobody should have access to guns at all for whatever reason and for a start it should be discontinued as an Olympic sport!

  5. David: I find it incredible that he could have done all of this himself. Early reports from Oslo when the BBC, and others, were attributing it to Islamic terrorists were suggesting that it was so well organised, the bomb so powerful, the whole operation so "professionally executed" that it must be the work of a large organisation such as Al Qaeda.

    If so Breivik's co-conspirators must be found and punished along with him. If not, then, and I hate to say it, he must be one hell of a clever madman.

    I wonder how much effect Hollywood and its ilk in other places, or indeed violent computer games, have on this kind of mind.

    Anyway, I suppose the word I was looking for, and you found, is "grieve". That's what we are doing with the people of Norway, including yourself. It surely touches us all.

  6. Munguin: I don't think there is any police force or security service anywhere that can possibly hope to foresee every single possible outrage in advance.

    And in a liberal democracy, they probably shouldn't be able to, if you understand what I mean.

    One of the important things that I heard the foreign minister of Norway say, was that Norway would continue to be the same country afterwards. This man would not be allowed to change the way that Norwegians live. I think the English authorities said something similar after the tube and bus bombing of July 7.

    As you say Scotland has had its own gun outrage in recent years, and yes, maybe if there had been a tighter regime, that could have been avoided (certainly in that case there were many questions to answer), but with all the strictures on life that there are in a country like Saudi Arabia (and who would want to live under that kind of regime), there have still been terrorist incidents.

    I've never seen a reason for having a gun, or the joy in shooting as a sport, and I have no idea why it is an Olympic sport, or why people call shooting animals sport. (There was certainly no shooting in the original Olympics.)

    I'd like to see a ban on guns, but most of the damage that is done by them is done by illegally held weapons, and farmers need guns, to dispatch pests so banning them is probably not practicable, and it probably wouldn't be that effective. After all this man managed to make a bomb (or bombs)... and that is illegal.

    There is no easy solution, otherwise sensible countries would have found it.

  7. Children and government ministers dead.

    This is a haunting example of political terrorism. And people say the death penalty isn't acceptable in a civilised society?

    Aristotle once expounded the concept of 'Just Violence', Mills 'consequentialism' and Kants 'retributivism'.

    If there is ever a time to listen to the philosophical arguments in favour of the death penality for the worst criminals, surely now is that time? For this man should be hung for doing this to bright, young, politically aware children.

    My dad knows a couple in Norway, lovely people (who can drink with the best of them) -- and they know neighbours affected by this. This isn't isolated to one community or another. All Norway reels from this rank criminality. Tris is right on that point, everyone in Norway is somehow personally affected...

  8. I'm not convinced that the death penalty is any kind of deterrent to a crazed religious or political fanatic, Dean. It may even in a perverse way be an incentive. And martyrdom is always a possibility.

    I can certainly understand the desire for a consequence, for retribution and the temptation to have an eye for an eye. And in cases of such a nature, the desire to do some damage to the perpetrator, especially as, if he is found guilty, as seems that he's going to plead on Monday, he will have to be kept, for the rest of his life, at huge expense to the Norwegian taxpayer.

    But, unless you are afraid of death in itself, surely it is a far more appealing sentence than languishing for 70 years in prison, probably always in solitary confinement.

    I know which I would prefer.