So Anders Behring Breivik is sane, according to Norwegian psychologists. Now we – and he – will get what we wanted.

A trial to determine his guilt for the bomb blast at government buildings and the massacre at Utoya.

Whatever happens there, Breivik will surely – hopefully – grow old under lock and key, either in a mental institution or in prison.

In allowing him to do so, rather than exact the kind of revenge that society sometimes feels entitled to, he will prove invaluable.

His would be no good to us at the end of a rope.

Instead, Breivik’s trial will drag his warped ideology out into the light and show it up for what it is.

The result will be that many of those who propagate the same hateful nonsense – the likes of the BNP and the Sweden Democrats – will be shown up for what they are.

Of all modern mass murderers, Breivik is perhaps the one we can learn most from.

Once the judgement falls and he is condemned to incarceration for a considerable period of time, we can go back to studying what made him carry out these appalling attacks. He has already told us much, and there is a lot more to learn.

He detailed his plans meticulously. His logic, his politics and his methods were recorded in minute detail.

In doing so, not only will they be used as evidence to stop him from ever committing such deeds again, they will hopefully ensure that we see the warning signs the next time someone starts down his path.

He will no doubt try – as he has already promised – to use his trial to ignite hatred and mistrust against muslims and foreigners. There is little evidence that he will succeed; in the months since his attacks, few voices have been raised in support.

Instead, the opposite has happened. Scandinavian parties of the far right are so scared of being identified with him that they have seemingly abandoned their arguments against multiculturalism, for the time being at least. They do not mention him by name, but nor do they mention radical Islam or muslims.

Breivik’s bomb and bullets have closed off that particular populist avenue to them, and it is now only in the darkest corners of internet message boards that they dare discuss it.

But were Norway’s laws otherwise, Breivik might have been condemned to die for his actions, and given the far right a richly-undeserved martyr to their cause.

The show trial of Saddam Hussein and his subsequent grisly execution might have been improved upon in Breivik’s case, but the end result would have been the same- the permanent removal of the one person who holds the answers to the questions civilised society now asks itself.

Instead, it looks like he will, in his arrogance, explain his reasoning entirely. It will make for hard listening for the families of the dead, and for the Norwegian people, but ultimately it will be a lesson for all of us about what happens when hate is allowed to go unchallenged and unchecked.

 

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