Insane terrorists and others

Photo: Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen/Aftenposten/REUTERS/SCANPIX

This picture is all most Norwegians have seen of our worst terrorist since WW2. Not a lot to base a judgment on. But since when has that stopped any of us?

Norwegian public debate ran into an ice berg a couple days ago, when a psychiatric report concluded that Anders Behring Breivik, the supposedly right-wing terrorist who blew up government buildings and massacred teenagers at a political camp this summer, was actually insane. “Paranoid schizophrenia.”

Very few had expected this. Certainly not Behring Breivik.

The public reacts generally with disbelief and anger. The general opinion is that these experts don’t know what they are talking about. Their scientific report should be overruled by people who have never met Behring Breivik, much less actually talked with him for hours and hours on end, and who have not even begun to read his own “manifesto” even though it is freely available on the Net. After all, they have seen the news on TV. That is all you need to know everything in the world, and have absolutely infallible judgment.

Yes, I’m putting the irony on here. My respect for actual humans is, generally, extremely low. This may not be obvious because my respect for the human potential is enormous. We have the capacity to become, fairly precisely put, godlike. In practice however we pay little attention to the soul and so we live and die as a writhing mass of mind parasites, largely unaware of reality beyond what is necessary to survive and procreate. Sometimes we may also fall short of this.

Thus, public opinion about terrorists in Norway and bankers in the USA only matters because we have some degree of democracy. Luckily it is mostly “opiate of the masses”, giving people an illusion of having real power. Long may this last. When the masses awaken, mass murder is sure to follow, since approximately 5% of the population are utterly devoid of conscience, and the remaining 95% generally have no idea how to constrain this minority without the rule of law. That’s, you know, why we have the rule of law in the first place.

So chances are that despite the loud wailing, the court of law will listen to the extremely tiny minority who actually know what they are talking about, and ignore the overwhelming majority who don’t. This is as good as it gets. One day perhaps we will in great numbers realize our human potential. But until then, most live and die only a few steps from insanity, and some will fall off the edge.


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