Friday, June 22, 2012

Does Anders Behring Breivik's Mass Murder Spree Equal Insanity?


Norwegian prosecutors are trying to be oh-so-civilized in their prosecution of mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik.  BBC reports:

Prosecutors in Norway have called for self-confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik to be considered insane in their closing argument at his trial. 
Prosecutor Svein Holden said there were still doubts about his insanity but he should be placed in psychiatric care, not sent to prison. 
Judges in the trial in Oslo are due to deliver their verdict in the trial in July or August. 
Breivik killed 77 people and injured 242 on 22 July of last year. 
He bombed government buildings in Oslo before shooting young Labour Party supporters at an island camp. 
Breivik, who insists he is sane, sought to justify his attacks by saying they were necessary to stop the "Islamisation" of Norway.
Is he "normal?"  No.  Does that make him insane?  Apparently in the eyes of the government.  But one has to wonder why the government would be so anxious to brand his actions as "insane" and send him off for "treatment" rather than prison.  Could there be another motive not related to "justice?"  Think about it.

Breivik is passionate, extremely, unreservedly anti-muslim and anti-government.  Does that make him insane?  His targets were supporters of a government that he felt was destroying Norway.  His actions were extreme... not the actions that "normal" people would take in their opposition.  He chose to treat the situation as a "war" and the response to the situation was killing those who supported his perception of destruction of the Norwegian culture.  Did that make him insane?

Or is he merely a sociopath?  Is he simply a person who believes any means is justified by the ends?  His actions are intolerable in any society.  Does that make him insane or merely without conscience and morals?

He knew what he was doing, just as a suicide bomber knows what he is doing.  We may want to call their actions "insane," but in reality they are simply abnormal.  He has his mental faculties.  He understands exactly what he did... without remorse.  He may be misguided in our estimation, but is he insane?  From his perspective, he undoubtedly sees himself as a "defender" of Norway... as a suicide bomber sees himself as a defender of Islam.  Our perspective says he is completely wrong and misguided in his thinking, but maybe we are misguided.  Is the majority always correct?

So, why the call by the prosecution for a judgment of insanity?  Two reasons perhaps:

  1. Breivik's maximum sentence for his crimes is 21 years.  That's a little over 3 months per person he killed.  An insanity conviction can put him in holding for his entire life.
  2. More importantly to the government, it throws a pall over anyone else who believes the government is contributing to the destruction of the Norwegian culture by allowing significant Muslim immigration.  It is a statement that says, "The government's policies are rational and humane and those who oppose such policies are irrational... insane."
Think about it.

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February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)