Norway, Hate Crimes and Insanity Defense

Michael Medved

7/25/2011 4:47:05 PM - Michael Medved

The Norway mass murders bear no apparent connection to Islamic terrorism, but that doesn’t make them less horrifying or evil. Had these killings occurred as part of an international movement it might have raised the chilling prospect of follow-up attacks, but the fact that they were the work of a single perpetrator doesn’t change their essential depravity.


This incident highlights warped thinking behind hate-crimes laws. If a killer is motivated by bigotry, religious fanaticism, or just rage at the world it doesn’t make his murders any more—or less—immoral or deserving of punishment.


This case also exposes the foolishness of the insanity defense: the killer’s acts may classify as legally insane, but that doesn’t make them more excusable. Hitler and Stalin would have been perfect candidates for insanity defenses— they didn’t know right from wrong, and made countless lunatic decisions, but their derangement hardly moderates their incomparable evil.