Good point, bro

Last night, my brother and I were talking about the domestic terrorist attack in Norway. My brother is not perhaps your "average American" in terms of his knowledge of Scandinavia, since he has been to Iceland of course and pays attention to happenings in that part of the world. But compared to most of my friends and colleagues, who are completely obsessed with all things Scandinavian, I offer my brother as a more reliable witness to what most Americans thought about the events of yesterday.

He mentioned something I had not thought of at all. He said to me, "You know what surprises me? Norway has mandatory military service for all young men. They all learn how to shoot. They are all given sidearms. In that country, people are armed. How could it be then that not one of those kids out there camping on that island, had a gun? How is it that that guy got out of there alive?"

I of course admire the sentiment of the Norwegian prime minister, calling for greater democracy and understanding after the events of yesterday. But I also do find it hard to imagine that the local police near that island just carefully and respectfully brought him in for questioning. And I wonder, what is the maximum punishment he will be given? 10 years in prison with full access to TV and internet and everything else?

Comments

Skúli Páls said…
Herskylda í Noregi þýðir ekki að allir eigi byssu. Í eyjunni var friðsamleg samkoma ungs fólks. Auðvitað var enginn með byssu!
Lissy said…
Ég skil það vel, en nefni það sem broðir min sagði af því 1) han helt að Norveg var svona mikið fyrir byssu og 2) Anders Behring Brevik á ekki rétt að vera enþá lifindi.
Lissy said…
Norway has banned sentences of life in prison http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_imprisonment so Anders will get to live a life outside of prison again later in his life, unlike all of his victims.
ABB has every right to be alive Lissy. If we allow ourselves to think that he doesn't, a very real and significant and dangerous part of ourselves is just like him. It was an absolute lack of empathy towards his fellow man that made it possible for him to do the things he did. Let ourselves not make that same error of judgment.

(Fyrirgefðu að ég skuli skrifa þetta á íslensku. Mér finnst þetta bara of mikilvægt til að einskorðast við þá lesendur þína sem skilja hana.)
Lissy said…
Thanks Hjorvar and I agree with the idea that a lack of fellow sympathy is indeed not helpful. But my sympathy goes to the families of the deceased, who have to endure on a daily basis the reality that he is not only alive, but will likely get out of prison in less than 2 decades a free man, allowed to rejoin society. I cannot imagine being a parents of one of those teenagers, and feeling in any way that sympathy abolishes the need for justice. I have heard the rumor there is a possibility in Norwegian law for the sentence to get extended to life in prison, and I certainly hope in this case that that is so. But thank you for your call for sympathy, it does indeed feel better than anger.
Thor Jonsson said…
I think this article sums up all your questions on this.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/magnus-nome/why-let-facts-ruin-story-norwegian-comments-on-us-coverage-of-norway-terror
Lissy said…
Exhibitions can be like the US media also, running with a narrative that ignores huge lines of evidence in order to present a clean, comprehensible whole. I prefer poking holes in narratives like that, myself.

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