Why some religious terrorists are psychotic and some aren’t

Today we have a juicy example of institutional bigotry and hypocrisy in the west, and not only in the west, but in the court room in one of the world’s most atheistic countries. A prosecutor in Norway wants to give the most horrifying terrorist of the decade a more lenient punishment than other terrorists… because he’s a christian terrorist and not an islamist terrorist.

I’ll argue the connection after this summary from Sydney Morning Herald:

The trial of Anders Behring Breivik has ended with an unusual reversal of roles, as defence lawyers insisted that he was sane when he killed 77 people last year and should be sentenced to prison, and prosecutors arguing that he was mentally ill and thus not criminally responsible, and should be hospitalised instead.

Apparently it is Breivik himself that seems to care less about getting off easily, and more about being treated as sane and fully accountable, even if that would send him straight into the slammer:

Breivik has admitted to the killings but said they were committed in self-defence to combat what he has called the ”Islamic colonisation” of Europe. He has argued an insanity judgment would detract from his cause.

The panel of judges plan to deliver their verdict on August 24.

So at this point, it is pretty clear that Breivik’s motive were, at least in part, religious. The manifesto he left confirms, in his own words, that he sees himself as a holy warrior on a crusade for Christianity.

As some kind of surreal reward, the prosecutor wants to give him a more lenient punishment than the defence.

Here’s the hypocrisy:

Consider the same act of terrorism, but committed by an islamist terrorist bomber, claiming a similar religious mission. Would a western prosecutor slap a “psychotic” label on that terrorist and let him avoid jail?

Not in this galaxy.

Instead, a western prosecutor would probably reason: Islamist bombers are just low-life criminals, I don’t care if they heard a voice from some middle-eastern god in their heads. But Christianity is different! Christianity is a nice religion that would never drive people to commit horrific acts. Therefore, the Christian terrorist must be mentally insane and deserves more lenient punishment.

So deeply institutionalized is religious bigotry, even in one of the world’s most secularized countries.

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One Response to Why some religious terrorists are psychotic and some aren’t

  1. tteclod says:

    Actually, the finding of competence would be more lenient since it would permit Breivik to exit the prison a free man after serving time in prison. A finding that he was insane would probably lead to an effective life sentence unless he convincingly recanted his current opinions and demonstrated “sane” behavior, whatever that is.

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