A PART of me says it is a mistake to write anything about Anders Behring Breivik.
The type is too familiar. Whatever their racial fantasies, their denials, their persecution complexes, their psychotic responses to historical truth, they all want the same thing. Above all, they want to be taken seriously.
This tribe doesn't care if you respond to an argument. It doesn't matter, not to them, whether some sap can be talked into believing that the Auschwitz ovens could not – they have diagrams – have coped with the corpses. It's not important whether you believe that the House of Windsor is part of a Jewish conspiracy, or whether the Vatican is run by Masons, or whether the Rothschild family are the latest Elders of Zion.
They'll get to that. They cannot get to that, though, if no-one will listen. Among Adolf's brood there is a desperate need to be accepted as just another strand of opinion. What they cannot stand – you can keep the irony – is to be beyond the pale. The biggest prize is to be part of mainstream discourse, available for Question Time, discussed in respectable newspapers, treated as an acceptable school of eccentric thought. Above all, to be on TV.
Breivik murdered 77 people just to get a hearing. He has made no bones about it. Nazis, he contends, are people, too. Is that the case?
I read his online prose just after the bomb and the shootings on Utoya. It was the usual stuff, with a couple of post-9/11 variants, born of the idea that a mighty struggle is in train against another dark-skinned threat. Breivik defined himself as a hero when the rest of Norway knew him as a pitiful nonentity. For the sake of Christian Europe – but actually for the sake of pasty-faced Anders Behring Breivik – this was intolerable.
Some people, we know, will do anything to get on TV. Some will tolerate Alan Sugar, or Simon Cowell. It's not illogical: millions tune in for those displays. Some among the millions even care, for a while, about this apprentice, or that talent show hopeful. So is this how it works? Slaughter dozens of teenagers and catch the world's attention for the speech you prepared earlier?
Anders Behring Breivik has been blunt about that. The government of Norway has responded with the assertion that it will uphold the law. The diagnosed schizophrenic will retain all the rights of any citizen accused of a crime. But he won't get to make speeches on TV. He will not be allowed to present himself as the voice of a minority – if bloody, if callous, if immune to human responses – just to get an audience.
Why should a hearing matter? A large part of this species now seems to believe that no-one exists who isn't on the telly. Ideas have no credence if they have not been broadcast. Emotions don't count if there is no footage. Anders Behring Breivik got all the free coverage his verminous fellow travellers could desire, and now he wants more.
So here we are, occupying a paradox, writing about Breivik's demands for attention and satisfying his demand for attention. If I now say that a mass murderer is not entitled to global TV coverage, all the scrofulous fascist internet groups will light up with denunciations of "so-called democracy" and "the mainstream media". They will mention hypocrisy, and double standards. The disease is opportunistic.
"No platform for fascists," we used to say. I tend to cleave to the idea still. In Norway, there has been a lot of debate over the decision to forbid broadcasters the chance – the right? – to transmit anything Breivik might wish to mouth. Some say the rights of a free press have been infringed. So do the point-blank executions of dozens of teenagers count as an audition?
No-one has said that Breivik is being denied a fair trial. No-one alleges that his statements are not being reported. It is not suggested that he has been inhibited or gagged. Only his access to broadcast media and YouTube fascist mashups is being hindered. This, though, is contentious. Supposedly we – not he – have the right to know what Anders believes.
The point is, apparently, that Breivik should be at liberty to condemn himself from his own mouth. Then we will all better understand – won't we? – why someone could destroy 77 lives in "self defence". If only we could witness the speeches of a psychopath capable of shooting teenagers in the head – did I mention that he denies nothing at all? – we would "understand" better. Such is the democratic function of a live feed.
Spending time in the company of people liable to advocate murder for a political purpose is salutary. You wind up with a childish urge to ask them to redefine simple terms, terms like "human" and "understand". Then you wonder how to make your excuses and leave. Part of you thinks these individuals are infinitely subtle, with a grasp of history. Then you realise that they just enjoy hideous transgressions. They mistake those for power.
Anders Behring Breivik asks a question. If he is not granted free, unfettered access to every broadcast medium going, why should the rest of us whimper on about free speech? Nazis have been pulling that one for 90 years. Censor them and you are not free. Censor them and you are not democratic. Censor them and all your vaunted liberties are a sham. So hand over the microphone. Let's talk about Muslims, Jews, and the swamping of Christian Europe ...
I see no need for cameras even in a Scottish court: open justice should not be redefined just because TV wants free entertainment. But why should Anders Behring Breivik not also have his days in court? The easy answer: because he has admitted each and every killing. He's done; everything else is a detail.
The remaining arguments, then, are over extenuation and the right to rhetoric in a multi-media world that ranks crime by the quantities of dead. Breivik has no defence that will stand. His right to talk about his reasons endlessly seems to me to be trivial. The right of TV to daily broadcast his comedy fascist salutes is not, I think, an issue of press freedom.
We need to think harder about what technology has achieved. Nazis love the internet. They can speak their tiny minds to their non-existent hearts' content. They rely on democratic suckers to call this free speech, and to protect them while they seek to destroy the rest of us. Such is the paradox of liberty: you wind up protecting scum. Must you therefore protect Anders Behring Breivik? I don't think so.
Life is not a TV show. The arguments are not made simply because the cameras are running. We seem to be at risk of forgetting the fact, not least because of Breivik and his kind. He murdered those children just to get on television. Are there liberal geniuses who would wish to reward him for all that blood? I would happily contest the fate of Christian Europe with Anders Behring Breivik. No cameras, mind.
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