Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is Anders Behring Breivik Really Insane?

Is Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian shooter, really insane, as many people have said? I think there is a very fine line between insanity and right wing ideological militarism. But the line is clearly crossed when you start pulling the trigger and killing innocent unarmed people, whether they are Muslim or Christian. That's what separates Anders from a right wing militarist like Mark Stein, for example. Mark Stein will write about killing (or is it "culling") people, while Anders Breivik goes out and does it. One is sane and paid big bucks to write in MacLean's Magazine, the other is insane and goes to jail.

However, Anders sincerely believed that the killing needed to be done. According to his manifesto, it was to stop the liberals in Europe from letting the Muslims take over. Furthermore, he believed that he needed to kill a lot of people in order to have his message be effective. I saw on the news that Anders was a bit disappointed when the number of kills reported by the press started to decrease. (It turned out that the police had double counted some bodies in the original carnage scene.)

So I have devised a thought experiment, kind of unorthodox, to see how insane Anders really is. Here is what you do. Ask Anders how many children he needed to kill to make his message known. Let's say his answer is 90 kills. Tell him that he only managed to kill 85, but that in the interest of supporting his cause of Norwegian Independence, you will give him a chance to kill 5 more to make sure everybody gets his message. Then give him back his gun, secretly loaded with blanks, and take him up to a room with five children tied to posts and give him the opportunity to shoot them. Would he try to shoot them or would he admit that killing more people is not going to help his cause?


  1. Sorry Bob, but I just don't know which answer proves what in your thought experiment?

    Wouldn't the sane person kill the 5 to achieve his goal? Or is it insane to think killing those 5 would do anything? (just more insanity piled the original insanity)

    I think the act itself is proof of his insanity...

  2. Like you, I think he is insane. My title is, I guess, a bit too ambiguous. I probably should have titled it "Anders Behring Breivik is really Insane" instead of making it a question.

    The thought experiment is merely to find out how insane he is (or the type of mental malfunction), and to see how his mind works in a slightly different situation.

    Either way, he needs to be put away for the rest of his life, but by learning more about how his mind works, we may eventually be able to head off some of these slaughters.