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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Sunday, August 26, 2012

An interesting circumstance here..
Anders Breveik, the young man who shot and killed 77 people in a park outside Oslo was found guilty of murder, and given a 21 year sentence for his actions. Mind you, it's unlikely he'll ever see the day he walks free again, simply for the fact he'll be continually thought to be a danger to the public.
But, here's the interesting part. Breveik claimed throughout his trial that he was sane.. that his 'demonstration' was political in nature. Yet the prosecution throughout, questioned whether the man was in his right mind. To all appearances, the PF's office was acting as de facto defense..
A verdict of guilt and a prison sentence, however, were not foregone conclusions. Although there was no doubt that Breivik had committed the murders, the question of his sanity dominated the trial. Successful insanity defenses are rare, especially for heinous crimes, but when insanity is claimed, it is almost always the defendant who raises the issue...
Makes sense..
However, Breivik’s trial offered the unusual spectacle – apparently without precedent in Norway – of a defendant who insisted that he was sane, while the prosecution argued for a finding of insanity. Two teams of psychiatric experts hired by the court reached differing conclusions as to whether he had been psychotic at the time of the crime. In essence, the prosecution was attempting to have an insanity verdict imposed over the objections of the defendant, in the face of conflicting evidence about Breivik’s state of mind..
How does one wrap one's mind about such a scenario..?
For legal systems like Norway’s that allow findings of insanity even against the wishes of a defendant, the motivation is clear. People suffering from severe mental illnesses often deny that there is anything wrong with them and hence may reject a defense of insanity. Courts would be faced with the prospect of punishing seriously ill persons whose behaviour was driven by psychosis, rather than sending them to a psychiatric hospital for treatment... Most people share the intuition that it is unfair to punish someone who did not understand the wrongfulness of their actions, and imposing an insanity verdict avoids having to do so..
Breivik’s case shows why that is idiotic.
As horrifying as was his behaviour, he had an overtly political end in mind. Concerned about what he called the “Islamic colonization” of Europe, he sought to kill young leaders of the Norwegian Labour Party, whose policies he believed encouraged Muslim immigration, at their summer retreat on an island in a lake near Oslo. Breivik thought his actions were justified by the legal doctrine of “necessity” to call attention to a situation that threatened the future of his country and of Europe..
This was, obviously, nothing short of an act of terrorism, and it begs the question, 'how far are we willing to excuse the actions of a man bent on political disruption, by labelling them insane, simply because such actions are outside the box'... so to speak..
Political correctness runs amok..

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