Breivik versus human rights

Photo: Johannes Grødem / Wikimedia Commons Mourners gather at Oslo Cathedral on the day after Breivik’s attacks.

Photo: Johannes Grødem / Wikimedia Commons
Mourners gather at Oslo Cathedral on the day after Breivik’s attacks.

John Rogers III
Owensboro, Ky.

A recent news article reported the following:

“A court in Oslo ruled Wednesday that Norwegian authorities have violated the human rights of mass killer Anders Behring Breivik by holding him in solitary confinement in a three-cell complex where he can play video games, watch TV and exercise.

“After months of meticulous preparations, he set off a car bomb in 2011 outside the government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight people and wounding dozens. He then drove to Utøya, where he opened fire on the annual summer camp of the left-wing Labor Party’s youth wing. Sixty-nine people there were killed, most of them teenagers.”

The ones wounded will have to live with infirmities all their lives; many, like quadriplegics, have been handed an awful life. Others will have to spend much of their lives caring for the injured. Now, the perpetrator has fame and no remorse. When children see people getting away with serious criminal activity—no death sentence, just an overdose of video games—and get to speak to the world with arrogance, no one should be surprised when young people respond with their own versions of justice.

Successful people learn that discipline must be exercised every day. When adults are not sanctioned, not subject to the same penalties they created, it tramples children’s perception of fair play, thus creating bitterness and a warped sense of justice. Could this be avoided by society teaching and reiterating that there are serious consequences for violence? Yes, but only if society follows through with appropriate justice when laws are broken. If law is not followed as adults, why is a nation wasting time teaching discipline to children?

Breivik took the human rights of 77 people, forever. He treated people like garbage and should spend the rest of his life in a garbage can—a prison—tightly controlled and never given a forum to display a Nazi salute. What an insult to a populace to let him have access to a court to complain about his standard of living—which is good—or whine that he has frequent strip searches. He slaughtered 77 people. He must never be trusted.

How can a country realistically expect other citizens to remain non-murderous when this person is coddled? Prison is for punishment, not for slapping hands or rehabilitation. All he has gotten so far is restricted movement and a system saying “Naughty boy.”

Most people have enough dignity to avoid resorting to violence during times of economic difficulty, but the immoral would not stop to consider retribution for bank robbery and murder of security guards when they might be instantly rich, and at worst, if caught, get to live free on law-abiding citizens’ resources for life, further crippling the victims who have the audacity not to die.

For the rest of his life, Breivik will live rent-free in a three-room cell with free video games, no bills for TV, recreation, food, dental care, medical care, or counseling, and access to a free education if he wants it. He chose to kill. I would take away his toilet paper for a first lesson in humility.

In this system, the victims are punished instead of the victimizers. Do the human rights of non-murderous citizens matter less? What did they do wrong to get punished, to have their burdens increased? Under Norway’s system, anyone could kill as many as he liked and look forward to all the benefits listed above. It would be paradise! And new generations would learn that this lifestyle is acceptable.

Did Breivik suffer when deciding to kill? Did a voice deep in Breivik scream “I don’t know what to do”? Did he think of what he might face and decide it was worth it? Was lack of proper penalty an encouragement? I do not know. But he finally decided what to do, and plotted it for months: premeditated murder.

John Rogers, age 63, is retired and spends his time working in house and garden maintenance, home improvements, and small construction. He served in the United States Navy.

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 12, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Norwegian American Logo

The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.