The trial of bomber and mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik has been rolling throughout the week, with online newspapers reporting the word-for-word questioning of the man, gruesome details included. Breivik has been retelling the story of what he did on that fateful day last summer, including details of how he shot some of his young victims several times in their heads, because he “saw that they were playing possum”. Relatives, friends and even court psychiatrists have at times left the courtroom during his tales, due to the gruesome nature of his actions and the details that emerge.
News coverage have been strange, in some cases. For a while, one of the two largest newspapers in Norway, Dagbladet, seemed to try and distance itself from the whole thing, focusing on minor details existing in the courtroom, such as their article on how Breivik was using a “prison pen” to take notes in the two days leading up to his examination. “Breivik uses special penin court”, was their headline for that little nugget. By the way, that pen is a common type of “writing implement” used in prisons, holding areas, and where people aren’t all that right in the head (read “psych wards”), so its use in the trial shouldn’t really surprise anyone.
There have also been some strange decisions made by the media, on behalf of the public, it seems, to censor some parts of the trial. Amongst the censored parts were Breivik’s amateurish Youtube propaganda movie, featuring dubious historical claims and depictions of templar knights, with a backdrop consisting of strange chanting. The media decided to “blackstrip” the movie, fearing, apparently, its effect on other “crazies” out there. Which is something the media should never, never do. Someone hasn’t read their history, and have missed that censorship is, in every sense of the word, an abomination.
Counterpointing the censorship, newspapers have been referencing Breivik’s explanation of his reasoning, reasons and actions verbatim, to the horror of every feeling human being who have read it all. It is, perhaps, telling that even the court psychiatrist has decided not to follow it all anymore, and Breivik’s defense council tells the public to “turn off your TV, for God’s sake” if the story becomes too much to handle.
With a bewildering degree of accuracy, media coverage of Breivik has become exactly what he predicted. A “character murder“, where news papers and tv focus on the apparent errors he is making, centering on dubious and complicated terms in psychology, history and political ideology and Breivik’s use of them to discredit and ridicule his answers in court. This is done instead of examining his answers as a “lay person” would percieve them, relying rather on experts in a wide variety of professions in order to be able to call the man a “liar” and a fraud – a stupid and uneducated such, at that. However, to most people, it is clear that the mass murderer isn’t stupid or uneducated. The fact that he misplaces some of his more complicated turns of phrase doesn’t do him as much discredit as one would think, and his explanations to the “government attorney” (the term for a prosecutor in Norway) and his own defense lawyers will surely strike a chord among those who share his beliefs. Counter to the media’s agenda, their ridicule is also working against its purpose on some levels, as it appears that they are simply and mindlessly doing what the mass murderer predicted they would do. It seems, incredibly, that they have all forgotten about it – or, they are counting on everyone else having done just that.
In any case, we’re not going to comment much more on the case, save for the security measures surrounding the ordeal, which have been, and will remain, exceptional for a court proceeding in Norway.