Anders Breivik killed 77 people, many of them kids, in carefully planned attacks on government buildings and a youth camp in Norway. Today he was determined to be sane, was found guilty of the mass murder — deemed “terrorist acts” under Norwegian law — and received the maximum sentence of 21 years in prison.
A man who kills 77 people is found to be legally sane? Sentenced to a mere 21 years in prison, as the maximum available penalty for the cold-blooded killing of dozens of people? And, according to the news article linked above, the “guilty verdict comes as welcome relief to victims and their families, who have been looking for closure 13 months after the tragic event”?
It is unimaginable that a disturbed mass murderer like Breivik, who is only 33 years old, could be walking the streets, a free man, in only two decades. What better indication could there be of the differences between the United States and Norway — their people, their criminal justice systems, and their concepts of just punishment — than this absurdly lenient sentence?
Many Americans applaud the European social model and decry the harshness of punishments meted out by American courts. Does anyone, however, seriously defend this grossly inadequate penalty and the notion that 21 years in prison is sufficient punishment for an unrepentant fanatic who gunned down 77 innocent people and now plans to write books about his attacks and his crazed political views?
Not many pieces of artwork become iconic. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa obviously is one; Michelangelo’s David is another. I would put Edvard Munch’s The Scream in that category.
Munch painted four versions of The Scream in 1895. Three are in museums in Norway, Munch’s native land. The fourth is being auctioned tonight. It is expected to be sold for at least $80 million, and if it fetches more than $106.5 million — the current record — before the auction is gavelled to a close, The Scream would become the most expensive painting ever sold.
It’s not hard to see why The Scream has become an instantly recognizable image in modern culture. The mindless horror evoked by the image of a screaming man on a bridge under a lurid sky can be used to capture our reaction to things as diverse as the futility of daily life, senseless crimes, and the Holocaust. I’m sure that more than one Norwegian dealing with the mass murder committed by home-grown madman Anders Breivik thought of The Scream when they read about Breivik’s unpardonable crimes.
It would be fitting if a painting that is so accessible, and so aptly related to modern life in so many respects, became the most expensive painting ever sold.
Anders Behring Breivik, the man who killed 77 people in Norway last summer, is on trial in Oslo. Although he has admitted to the killings, he has pleaded not guilty to charges of mass murder and terror.
Today Breivik got a chance to explain his actions and his twisted motivation. He bragged that he had carried out “the most spectacular and sophisticated attack on Europe since World War II.” He said his ruthless killing of unarmed people at a youth camp was an act of goodness, not evil, and explained that he acted to defend Norway against immigration and multi-culturalism. He thinks liberal ideas are ruining Norway — and apparently he thinks the appropriate response is to murder people in cold blood.
In short, Breivik is an evil lunatic. His existence in a beautiful, peaceful country like Norway just means that you can find madmen everywhere. I suppose it should be comforting, in a sense, that America doesn’t have a corner on crazed mass murderers — but it isn’t. How many disturbed, dangerous people like Breivik are out there?