Sunday, April 29, 2012

Foreign Encounters: Part 1

Foreign Encounters:  Part 1

The other night, I was in a British-style pub (complete with doubledecker London style bus monument just outside) talking with a Norwegian guy. 

The trial of the mass murderer Anders Breivik has been covered here extensively.  For those who don't know who he is?  Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:
Anders Behring Breivik (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈɑnːəʃ ˈbeːɾɪŋ ˈbɾæɪʋiːk]; born 13 February 1979)[1] is a Norwegian accused mass murderer[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] and the confessed perpetrator[13][14] of the 2011 attacks in Norway. On 22 July 2011, Breivik bombed the government buildings in Oslo, which resulted in eight deaths. He then carried out a mass shooting at a camp of the Workers' Youth League (AUF) of the Labour Party on the island of Utøya where he killed 69 people, mostly teenagers.[15][16][17]

I asked this Norwegian friend about the trial.  The discussion turned to the maximum sentence he could receive.  The news had reported the maximum sentence would be 21 years in prison. 

As an American, this short short sentence was shocking.  We then talked about how depending upon what state (in the USA) the mass murder was committed in, Breivik might face the death penalty.  No European nation imposes the death penalty.  Although I have since found out that Austrian murderers could possibly be sentenced to life in prison. 

This Norwegian friend mentioned that new research states the death penalty is not an effective deterrent to murder as its proponents claim.  One argument, for example, is that criminals do not have enough knowledge about the different capital punishment laws in different states. 

I then went on to state that, in all likelihood, even if he was convicted in a non-capital punishment state, he would likely receive back to back life sentences amounting to several hundred years. 

A follow up conversation about this topic yesterday with an Austrian journalist revealed the following:
Quite recently, there have been peaceful demonstrations in Oslo against Breivik.  The Prime Minister, their head politician, has actually gone on the record to tell the Norwegian people that this must be a time of tolerance. 

Here is an AP article regarding demonstrators singing songs as a sign of solidarity.

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