It's disturbing how self-congratulatory humanitarians can be willing to endanger the lives of others in order to maintain their worldview.
In Norway, an insanity defense requires a defendant be psychotic -- so out of touch he cannot control his own actions -- while committing a crime. Somehow this week, two forensic psychiatrists determined that Anders Behring Breivik, 32, was insane when he methodically killed 77 people July 22.
Breivik has admitted that he set off a car bomb in Oslo, killing eight, and then gunned down 69 people, mostly teenagers, in an island summer camp. But he has refused to plead guilty on the grounds that his actions were "atrocious but necessary" in service to his crusade to "save" Europe from Marxism and a "Muslim invasion."
The maximum criminal sentence in Norway is 21 years -- although authorities can extend prison time for those deemed to be a danger to society. Thus, Breivik had reason to believe that disguised as a police officer, he could shoot up a camp full of teenagers, lay down his weapons and surrender -- and he still might go free in his 50s.
If the forensics board backs up the insanity finding, a court could commit Breivik to three years of psychiatric care. It's unlikely, but he could be out in his 30s.
In an email, University of Oslo psychology professor Svenn Torgersen explained, "At least every three years, he can be assessed. If he is non-psychotic, and in addition considered no threat to other people, he will be free, and no new court case. Yes, many psychiatrists and psychologists are surprised."
Prosecutor Svein Holden supported the "delusional" finding as he told reporters that Breivik's "thoughts and acts are governed by this universe." And: "He sees himself as chosen to decide who shall live and who shall die and that he is chosen to save what he calls his people."
Swedish forensic psychiatrist Anders Forsman, however, told The Associated Press: "It is difficult to see this as criminal insanity. He seems to have carried out the killings in a rational way. He is an efficient killing machine."
Consider these words from Breivik's terrorist manifesto: "Once you decide to strike, it is better to kill too many than not enough, or you risk reducing the desired ideological impact of the strike." For a man not in control of his thoughts or actions, he sure did what he wanted to do.
News accounts indicate that Norwegians could accept an insanity finding as long as Breivik spends the rest of his life in government custody. But Oslo deliberately prohibits life sentences, even for the most heinous crimes. Politicians boast about the nation's humane criminal justice system, with its commitment to redemption.
So why do I think Oslo's chosen experts have decided that Breivik was insane? They're so sublime that they don't know how to recognize evil.
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