Saturday, July 30, 2011

The face of evil... not always as ugly as we expect.

Over the past week I've been contemplating the criminal outrage Anders Breivik perpetrated against his own Norway.  Along with unwanted recollections of 9/11, it has dragged the Oklahoma City Bombing, Columbine, and Virginia Tech back into active memory.  Some described his brutal attacks as "Norway's 9/11," not because Islamic extremists were involved, but because 77 deaths in a country of 5 million is a higher casualty rate than the 3000 in 285 million suffered in 2001.  

If the aftermaths of 9/11 and Britain's 7/7 are instructive, then encouraging greater public awareness instead of fomenting nation-wide fear or tolerating reflexive over-reactions on the part of one's government protectors will be critical to a successful response to this tragedy.  More effective intelligence gathering, investigation, and information sharing will likely be more productive than massive expenditures attempting to harden public spaces and other soft targets.  Like American police after Columbine the police in Norway will have to adopt the concept of immediately going after active shooters rather than waiting for heavy weapons teams to arrive.

Breivik was the Black Swan who has proven that horrible crimes are indeed possible even in Norway.  He may be 1 in 5 millions or a once in several generations occurrence there but they will never again be able to say "it can't happen here."  Like the perpetrators of 9/11, Columbine, and Virginia Tech, Breivik took full advantage of the "rules of the game" with deliberate skill and has forever changed the "playing field" for an entire nation.

Could We Have Done Otherwise?

Haven't knocked this stuff around since my undergrad days...

Just what do people have in mind when they say we have free will?

Sure feels like we do, but we may have no choice about feeling that way.