Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday morning sadness

I woke up to the news that a bomb exploded in downtown Oslo – where the Nobel Peace Prize originates, ironically – and at least 80 people were mowed down shortly thereafter at a children’s camp on the Norwegian island of Utoya, 20 miles northwest of Oslo. The same piece of sh*t is suspected in both attacks.

I feel compelled to write about this. I’ve already written about how we kill our kids and I doubt I can come up with anything new to convey about the carnage in Norway. But I feel like I should mark the horrible occasion somehow. To let anyone who stumbles upon my blog know that there’s a middle-aged white guy in a suburb of Lansing, Michigan, who is sorry for what happened 3,900 miles away and who doesn’t understand and who feels your pain, as the Big Dog would say, and who can’t think of anything else right now.

Both attacks were allegedly carried out by a lone 32-year-old nutcase, a blond-haired, blue-eyed Christian who hates Muslims named Anders Behring Breivik. One report said he was dressed like a policeman and when he yelled at young campers to come closer so he could protect them from the gunshots they heard, they ran to him, only to be taken out like targets at a shooting range.

Some of the kids tried to save themselves by diving into the water and swimming for it or pretending to be dead. It took as long as 30 minutes for a SWAT team to arrive.

An official was quoted as saying the downtown attack "is probably more Norway's Oklahoma City than it is Norway's World Trade Center." I wonder how the patriotic yahoos who wave the American flag at the drop of a hat and listen to Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood and watch Faux “News” feel about the fact that this country is always referenced when others experience madness and mayhem. Terror in Brazil and Germany and Spain and India and England is always compared to our terror, our violence, our loss of innocent life. Finally! Something at which we’re still Number One!

I assumed the murderer would be convicted and sentenced to death but I read that the toughest penalty he can receive is 21 years in prison. A Norwegian reporter said, “That means he is out after 16 years. He might be out after 14 years. And then he will be a free man. And he killed so many.”

Brisenia Flores
There are times when my opposition to capital punishment fades and I’m left with the desire to pull the switch or administer the lethal injection myself. The 2009 killing of nine-year-old Brisenia Flores in Arizona, who was shot twice in the face as she begged for her life, is one of those times. Thinking of how those young campers on the island must have felt when they ran toward Breivik and saw him pull out his gun is another.

I’m sure we’ll hear more about this in the hours and days ahead. The death toll will rise and new laws will be proposed and people will wring their hands and denounce the violence which happens in Phoenix and Oklahoma City and Wichita and Columbine and all over the United States but not in the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Norway is a peaceful nation; this is its worst violence since World War II.

No one is safe anywhere anymore.

Sources: Anchorage Daily News, Huffington Post, NPR.

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