Norway does justice right

(via Boing Boing) The New York Times reports on the Norwegian government's decision to treat the trial of Anders Breivik, the terrorist who orchestrated multiple violent attacks in July 2011:

One year ago Sunday, Norway experienced one of the worst extremist attacks Western Europe has witnessed since World War II when Anders Behring Breivik systematically killed 77 people and injured hundreds of others.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s reaction was unequivocal. He declared that Norway’s strongest weapon in responding to this was to employ more openness and more democracy.

Norwegians took up his call. Neither politicians nor the media turned it into a partisan political issue. The public reacted with grief but did not call for extraordinary measures. And the state chose to prosecute Brevik in an ordinary public court with full media coverage.

[...]

Virtually all modern forms of extremism accuse liberal Western democratic systems of being hypocritical and, ultimately, weak. Al Qaeda portrays the West as anti-Islamic imperialists masquerading as promoters of democracy. Right wing extremism suggests the West is committing cultural suicide through its lax judicial system and naïve multiculturalism.

Both have committed horrific acts designed to bait us into betraying our values and making them martyrs. In fact, it is remarkable to see the many similarities between these two sorts of extremism in their disdain for diversity and their indiscriminate violence against civilians.

In this context, it is a mistake to treat crimes committed by extremists as exceptions, subject to special processes. They must be held accountable in accordance with and to the full extent of the law. Hiding suspects from public view merely dehumanizes the perpetrators and undermines any moral or judicial lessons.

By contrast, prosecuting extremists who have committed crimes in a public courtroom makes it all the more shockingly clear that their horrific acts were undertaken by human beings, and that all of us must work every day to combat the ideas of extremism.

The whole article is amazing -- a beautiful outline of the ways in which a country ought to handle tragedy, ways radically in opposition to the way we handle it in the US.  I couldn't help thinking, while I was reading the post, "Wouldn't it be great to live in one of the grown-up countries like Norway?"

Here's a link to the article.