Anders Breivik has announced from his Norwegian jail cell that he will be going on hunger strike, to end what he refers to as “the torture” committed against him by prison authorities.
Breivik claims that the Playstation 2 games console, that which he has been using, is an out of date system, and he requested access to an updated Playstation 3.
The mass murderer also feels his choice of video games to be unfair, as they are not designed for adults. Another reason for this drastic decision to starve is his fury over the denial of the warden to double his weekly allowance of 300 Norwegian crowns (36 euro), to help pay for postage stamps.
The final contributing reason that Breivik has declared an act of cruelty against him, is the fact that he has been forced to use an outdated typewriter, instead of a modern PC.
Let’s just remind ourselves what this 35 year old man has done, in order for him to
have found himself in a position, self-described as “hell”.
In 2011, Anders Behring Breivik detonated a bomb in central Oslo, killing 8 people. That same day, a following 69 people, mostly teenagers, died at the hands of Breivik’s gun on the nearby island of Utøya. The island was a place of annual visit by members of the Worker’s Youth League, a group affiliated with Norway’s Labor Party.
In an extensive manifesto, Breivik blamed such organisations of supporting the supposed Islamification of Europe. The shocking mass killing was feebly justified by Breivik as an act of defiance against a perceived growth of European fundamentalist Islam. After being found guilty, he was sentenced to the maximum jail time in Norway of 21 years.
The idea that a man who has committed such grotesque deeds would be complaining about what games console he uses, while serving just 21 years for murdering 77 people, is troubling to many. Online journalists, such as the successful American Youtube video group, The Young Turks, have expressed disgust at the leniency of his time behind bars. Do some of the prison systems of Europe need to be brought into question in this regard?
In Ireland, there was public outcry upon the release of convicted rapist Larry Murphy after he served just seven years of a 15 year sentence in August 2010. From the perspective of the American judicial system, there is a significant difference in terms of how long your punishment is and how hard it is going to be for you when found guilty of a serious criminal act.
In 32 American states, including California, Texas and Utah, capital punishment technically still exists in law. Since 2007, Texas has averaged 21 executions per year. This makes it the harshest state to be in if you are known to have murdered someone. Famous American mass murderers and serial killers, such as Ted Bundy, have traditionally been executed upon their convictions.
Taking this into account, along with the magnitude of deeds Anders Breivik exerted in 2011, the Norwegian prisoner’s 21 year sentence behind bars really can’t be that bad. So are we in Western Europe, who are outraged at vicious criminals getting easy sentences, prepared to embrace a strict American stance of Judeo-Christian punishment?
Amnesty International are among the many organisations who strive to end the death penalty worldwide. In 2012, they recorded 682 people were officially executed across 21 countries, the USA being in the top 5 list. As Western society is becoming increasingly liberal, which is evident from elements such as the growing success of LGBT rights, it is reasonable to suggest that capital punishment is not the answer people are looking for in Europe.
A recent clash between the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and Britain has raised the discussion of ‘whole-life’ prison sentences for serious offenders. The British Government has decided to continue with this policy regardless of the controversy surrounding it. Prime Minister David Cameron has stated that “life should mean life” and the BBC have described this approach as in the style of the USA.
Is this the fairest sentence for someone like Anders Breivik in a civilized democracy? Clearly, he is an exceptional and extreme example, however his outlandish demands have perhaps illuminated the issue better than any politician ever could. If European governments can work alongside organisations such as Amnesty International and the ECHR, a rational consensus may be possible in terms of how we can deal with serious offenders in a humane but mature manner.
The repeated public outrage that occurs when someone like Larry Murphy is allowed out of prison, indicates that a strong ethical concern is in place within the people of a democratic nation and this tells us that a desire for harsher punishments does exist. Hopefully, a logical decision can be eventually made across the board in Europe that will both punish and protect the basic humanity of serious criminals.
Hey, at least Breivik isn’t asking for a PS4! Feel free to comment and let us know what you think