Is Anders Breivik Crazy? Does it Matter?

Very interesting piece about Breivik in Counterpunch.

Breivik reminds me a little of Timothy McVeigh, in that so many of the people around him refuse to acknowledge that he isn’t confused or contrite about what he did and why–right or wrong (wrong, obviously, lest there be any doubt about where I’m coming from), he is/was a true believer. I find it ironic and shameful that the people he admires the most (Robert Spencer, Fjordman, Pam Geller, et al) are falling all over themselves to repudiate him.

William Luther Pierce put the same distance between himself and McVeigh that Spencer and his anti-Jihadist allies have with Breivik. Pierce (the author of The Turner Diaries–which features the fertilizer bomb attack on FBI headquarters that inspired Oklahoma City) said that McVeigh’s act was wrong because it was premature–the race war hadn’t begun yet. But the whole point, in McVeigh’s mind and in Pierce’s thinking, was to bring things to a head.

If Islam is as evil and insidious as Spencer says it is, why shouldn’t we be fighting back–and not just against the Muslims, but against all the liberal/feminist/politically correct/multi-culturalist turncoats who are not so much enabling radical Islam as using it to accomplish their own agenda, which is the destruction of the West? Breivik laid out his case for action and then he acted.

I’m not prepared to attest for Breivik’s sanity myself, having read as much of his manifesto as I did, especially the psycho-sexual stuff. Frankly, I’m as dubious about Spencer’s and Geller’s sanity as I am about Breivik’s. But that’s a different story.

A McVeigh or a Breivik compels us to modify or perhaps discard the very idea of an insanity defense–at least one that literally turns on an incapacity to understand the difference between right and wrong. Insanity should be an argument for mitigation when it comes to punishment–some people clearly belong in hospitals rather than prisons. But when we start applying the categories of mental illness to revolutionary acts, we act a little like the Totalitarian regimes of the last century did with their dissidents, confining them to “hopspitals” for “treatment” and “reeducation.”

And why let Spencer and his ilk off the hook so easily? I’m not saying they are criminally liable, but when they call for principled violence (“we are the soldiers….it is up to us”) they have to carry their fair share of the moral onus when people take them seriously.

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8 thoughts on “Is Anders Breivik Crazy? Does it Matter?

  1. The idea that we can discern a person’s “sanity” or lack thereof when they had committed a particular act that is criminal in nature is nonsensical. It is no better than punditry. As far as I am concerned -whatever this man’s state was when he committed this crime -if you murder this many people then you forfeit the right to live in society. I am anti death penalty and I believe in rehabilitation but people like John Hinckley Jr and Andrea Yates should never be given total freedom. The nature of those acts-attempting to assasinate a president and drowning 5 children -even if it could be determinded that they were done in a state of psychosis -I think are so serious that these people should be monitered for the rest of their lives. The field of psychology has functional uses in many things-as was evidenced in being utilized to screen potential service people in WW2 for aptitude and since then-as well as teaching people to live nonaddicted or become better functional. Psychiatry is largely still relevant mostly because these are doctors who can prescribe medications however I think the whole thing is leading more into neurolgy as a lot of what psychology consists is hardly scientific or are particularily sucessful treatment tools.

  2. My favorite was when Beck was dismissing Breivik as crazy but casually commented that the students at a political retreat sounded like Hitler’s Youth, which was kind of why Breivik killed them: because Breivik thought they were being brainwashed into being party of the liberal/Muslim war on white European christians.

  3. “…lest there be any doubt about where I’m coming from), he is/was a true believer.”

    But a true believer in what exactly? He’s pro-Israel and was, at least for a time, a Freemason. Not a recipe for good mental health there! The mainstream media tried hard to paint Breivik as a neo-Nazi, but Breivik expressed hostility toward any Nazi or White Nationalist political ideologies. He’d fit in better with the ziocons, who lied the United States into the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The only difference between Breivik and other ziocons is that he did his own dirty work, instead of sending soldiers out to kill and maim innocent civilians.

  4. The article is quite correct. “far right” is the label attached by the left to anyone who disagrees with their pronouncements. Was always so. In the UK the BNP is classed as “far right”. I totally agree with Lord Tebbit that the BNP is in fact a very far left party. The one thing that the left find “far right” about the BNP is their opposition to immigration. The “anti-fascist” UAF? Mmmm. They are the ones who wear masks and use classic Fascist tactics of intimidation and violence to promote their far left views. Their name “Unite Against Fascism” is a misnomer if ever there was one. Then again of course the label “Far – left or right” is a function of the beliefs of the person applying the label. The other side’s beliefs are always wrong of course but nothing in reality is as clear cut as that.

  5. I am reading you excellent book and the post above
    reminded me of another excellent book “A Safeway In Arizona”
    concerning the context of the Giffords shootings.

    The author, who knew
    Giffords and is a local, speaks with assassination experts
    from U of Az and asks the question about how to classify
    someone like Loughner who researched American assassins
    and terrorists before him. Someone who plans their
    legacy assuming they won’t be alive to see it. Who
    lists the books he (supposedly) read divided between
    right and left with the seeming intention of manipulating
    the media after the act. Successfully as it turns out.
    IMO. he read about the media parsing booklists associated with other
    terrorists/ assassins and planned accordingly.

    Without adding to the crazy:
    I occasionally try to keep up with the fringe groups on YT
    like Zeitgeist and right wing political fringe stuff. I also
    engage some of them commentwise.

    A day or two before the Giffords shootings I know I received a message
    from a YouTube channel that contained (on the channel) an
    animated pic of a metallic symbol or medallion or shield…
    along with the same music (bodies on the floor or some such)
    that Laughner used on the site that everyone associates with him…along with
    an inscription underneath the shield, “I Am God”.
    Typically simple minded or grand scale schizophrenic, and or,
    if from someone planning a mass killing, an implied declaration
    of intention.

    I deleated the message and later tried to recover the channel, of course,
    without success. It was on one of my personal channels that I rarely
    use and I didn’t remember which one it was on. I’m guessing it was
    from JL, not directed at me in particular but a group of channels
    or comments he was responding to.

    1. The Jerry blog seemingly doesn’t exist (maybe there’s a typo in the url). The book he refers to, by Tom Zoellner, does. Zoellner is a friend of Griffiths and a field organizer of one of her campaigns.

  6. I read trhe Zoellner book and it is an excellent book. In America for sure -we have seem to lost have many of the components of civilization. As Zoellner points out we truly have a broken mental health system. Coupled with this we have media ranters who appeal to people with fear and bigotry. You can convince a lot of people of a lot of nonsense if they are vulnerable and not well informed. Hence this is one of reasons people are getting more and more guns and it is very easy for many people to get guns including people with mental health issues. Then you have the scenario in Arizona -but hardly limited to that instance-regularly we see people with mental health issues getting weapons and being involved in mass kilings-We saw it at Virginia Tech, Columbine and other schools and even at places like Fort Hood.

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